travel | how to safely solo travel to jamaica
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment.| how to safely solo travel to jamaica.
how was your christmas? i hope it was fab and i hope you are full of hard food and dessert and have started laughing from your belly again. i’m here offering you something to read as an alternative to christmas movies. here is the blog post i’ve been writing in my head for months – how to safely solo travel to jamaica.
if you followed the story on instagram you know that i really went to jamaica to be a river goddess and splash around in the people dem’s waterfalls. and drink red stripe like i never seen water. i definitely had the time of my life but there was a lot of prep and prayer that went into my trip. i’ve put together a list of things to put into preparation before your first solo travel to jamaica – or anywhere really.
solo travel to jamaica – how sis?
i’ve always loved solo travel. i actually took a solo travel trip to budapest at the start of the year. it was great and i put together some tips for anyone looking at the solo traveller mindset and my experience in europe. jamaica was different ofcourse. i did not originally intend to solo travel to jamaica but i’m more than grateful that i did. i had less time to prepare myself but managed quite beautifully in my opinion. i’m sharing these tips to make it less stressful for anyone planning.
there are two things to know first. always follow your intuition and pray about it. i didn’t follow my intuition which is how it ended up being a solo trip but i did pray. as everyone in my circle did. and i was certain that i was supposed to go alone. you should feel comfortable about your decision. listen to yourself and don’t book a solo travel trip prematurely, wait until it is all aligned for you to go. you’ll know.
things to do –
photo copy your passport. leave one copy with your family (maybe two?) and take two with you. keep one with you at all times during your trip and keep a back up in case you lose it. this is a useful precaution for any trip actually, solo or not. it means if you lose your passport or your passport is stolen you have a back up. i know many people keep their actual passports on them as they don’t trust hotel staff. i usually say leave it in your suitcase with the padlock on.
write down the locations of everywhere you are staying. i am very old school and have my notebook everywhere anyway. i work in social media and digital but tend to write everything down. it is good practice to learn the location by heart to. do this to avoid looking touristy and having to check your phone/notebook whenever a taxi driver asks where you’re going. also do this incase anything happens to your phone and then you’re left without knowledge of your actual accommodation address etc. you could also just print the bookings too.
arrange transfers with your accommodation. they will offer you a trustworthy driver affiliated with the hotel.
i was so nervous on my first walk alone through ocho rios town. i was fine but someone definitely called me out as english as soon as they saw me loool.
booking accommodation – on that note, i recommend staying in hotels when solo travelling. i feel that, in jamaica (or outside of europe) it is most sensible as it offers the most security. in some countries hostels can work but in jamaica it wasn’t recommended. air bnb and guest houses were ruled off my list entirely as i didn’t want to stay anywhere alone. you never know who is watching you and will notice that you’re staying alone and take advantage.
taxi drives – i was told that it is custom in jamaica to take pictures of the drivers license plate before getting in the car. i was also told to let the driver see you do this and that he wouldn’t be offended. maybe i am too british because i couldn’t do this. instead i took my time to memorise the license plate and quickly/discreetly put it in my phone and sent it to my mum. i’m glad i did that as i ended up using that driver through the whole trip. i’m not sure how it would have affected the relationship. he did look after me but i had made a note just in case.
get travel insurance. as you would really. print it and carry a copy with you.
apps to download – maps.me. this one is very useful as it allows you to use pre-downloaded maps without data. i used my driver to get around unless it was a short trip to the supermarket or coach station. but if you need to get somewhere use the map. again, don’t be obviously lost and depending on the map. i’d make a note of the roads to turn on etc so I was never navigating with the phone in my hand.
another useful app is family 24/7- it allows your family to see your location. there are other ‘find my friends’ apps that can be useful to note.
find out where your country’s embassy is – again, we pray you won’t need it but it is good to know before hand in case you lose your passport etc. in jamaica the british embassy is in kingston.
if travelling across the country in jamaica – use coach to get around. it is safer and much cheaper. i got from kingston to ocho rios using the knutsford express. this is the best coach service to go with, lots of local jamaicans trust it.
ATMS – my driver took me to a bank with secure doors that lock while you’re taking out your cash. that was a helpful precaution, look out for scotia bank ATM’s if you can. i went back on my own at times and made sure to keep an eye on my surroundings while walking out. i also made sure to hold money in two places (i.e. a purse and another random wallet) just for back-up. side note- if not using an ATM from the bank, collect your card and your money quick quick. apparently some ATMS in jamaica eat your card and money if you’re not fast enough.
solo travel habits –
always tell more than two people your day plan – tell two people where you are going. tell them when you are leaving the house and when you will be returning. my mum (superstar) also asked me to send pictures of my outfit before i left the house which is also a great precaution in case anyone needs to identify what you were last wearing (you’ll be fine amen).
when solo travelling remember to never post your live location/ hotel whereabouts to your social media. always post afterwards if you must.
invest in a mini first-aid kit. i know. but i actually needed it so you might.
some solo female travellers use a fake ring so they can appear to be married. annoying to have to take these precautions as a woman. but friends this will not work in jamaica.
jamaican men abide by the 3 p’s: patient, persistent and present. even when you’ve given hints they can leave loool. and in the words of a kingstonian elder who i met ‘see how dem mout sweet?’ i never had a bad experience but be prepared to be sweet-talked through your trip if you’re a solo female traveller. ignore if you want but if you do chat, you’ll have some interesting stories coming home. (travel stories post coming soon…)
judge it by ear. i needed to be as safe as possible and so sacrificed going out to clubs on my own and even being out after dark. i made myself be back in the hotel by 6pm each day. i would have loved to see what the night life was saying but i knew how vulnerable that could leave me. if you feel you can, go. if you make friends (you trust enough to drink with), go with them. if it is something you can put on your list for next time, do. all is balance.
those are all my tips for safe solo travel in jamaica. i hope they’re all helpful for your next travels loves. don’t let anything scare you out of seeing the world. comment below any tips to add!
thanks for reading what i write.