Know Before You Go: Caribbean Adventure: Dominican Republic | EF Ultimate Break
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Caribbean Adventure: Dominican Republic

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

Covid-19

Your health and safety will continue to be our top priority. Travel involves certain inherent risks related to the chance of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19.We want you to travel confidently, which is why we’re taking steps to make EF Ultimate Break the safest way to see the world. You can see all the steps we’re taking here.

Pre- tour
In addition to the safety precautions arranged for your tour, we want to stress your role in both your own and other travelers’ safety. As such we are requiring all travelers certify to comply with the requirements laid out in our COVID Safe Traveler Agreement . Requirements such as, but not limited to:

  • Being fully vaccinated by the time of my departure. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine.
  • Agreeing to take all reasonable efforts to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 within the two weeks prior to the tour’s departure. If made aware that they have been in close contact (as defined as within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period) with a person diagnosed within COVID-19 within 14 days of the tour’s departure date, they will notify EF Ultimate Break immediately.
  • Following all local regulations, restrictions and advisories related to COVID-19 for the tour. Travelers also agree to follow all rules, requests and requirements from their Tour Director or EF Ultimate Break staff for the health and well-being of themselves, their fellow travelers, and any suppliers.

Your COVID Safe Traveler Agreement will be released in your online account 14 days prior to departure and must be completed 72 hours prior to your tour’s departure to the Dominican.

On-tour
While on the road, you will be required to follow all local COVID safety regulations and requirements in the Dominican which currently include:

  • Face masks must be worn while in public in all indoor and outdoor settings except when eating, performing a water activity, while alone or in a private home; the use of masks is mandatory on all forms of transportation, including your tour bus.
  • Restaurant capacity may be limited, and many restaurants will require that groups are seated at separate tables, even in a private space.

In addition, we ask that while on tour you limit interactions to those within the group and refrain from meeting up with anyone outside the group.

Should any traveler be diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the Tour, the person diagnosed with COVID-19 will be required to isolate and the remainder of the tour group will be required to quarantine on-tour AND test for COVID-19, in accordance with local guidelines.

2021 Quarantine Coverage
If a traveler is either diagnosed with COVID-19 or required to quarantine on account of COVID-19 while on tour in 2021, EF will provide or arrange for the following, consistent with local requirements, at no additional expense to the traveler throughout the duration of any on-tour quarantine period:

  • Lodging and meals
  • EF representatives available to support the traveler and coordinate with local authorities on their behalf where necessary
  • Assistance connecting with local health care providers*
  • Translation services
  • Communication between the traveler and the traveler’s family back home
  • EF-arranged flights home, based on existing itinerary, once the traveler is cleared to return

*Travelers are responsible for their own medical costs; we highly encourage travelers to confirm their current health insurance includes coverage while traveling domestically or internationally or purchase trip protection that includes medical coverage through EF or another provider.

Returning from tour
In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control requirements to re-enter the United States, all travelers, must take a mandatory COVID-19 test (either PCR or antigen viral test) OR have documented proof of recovery from a medical professional, within 72 hours prior to their return flight to the US.

While EF Ultimate Break will assist travelers in scheduling with local testing facilities, you will be responsible for covering the cost of the COVID-19 test. We recommend budgeting $100.

Travel Documents & Tour Preparation

Travel Documents:

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
  • Visa: No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen. For citizens of other counties please check with the consulate in your area to verify the Visa entry requirements.
  • Travel Insurance: While Travel Insurance is not required to enter the DR, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.

Tour Preparation:

  • Talk with your doctor: Although there are no health entry requirements for US citizens visiting The Dominican, it is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
  • Travelling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
  • Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan so you can stay connected while on the road. While free Wi-Fi may be available it won’t be everywhere nor as strong as we are used to. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
  • Join the Facebook group: Your trips private Facebook group will open roughly 60 days prior to departure and is something you won’t want to miss. It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. You’ll receive an email inviting you to join. If you’re having trouble joining, give us a call at 800-766-2645.
  • Complete you pre-tour checklist: this can be found in your account!

Health & Safety

Staying Healthy while Traveling
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:

  • Sleep: Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Stay hydrated: In an adventurous and tropical climate, it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Do not drink the tap water on tour. Purchase bottled water when possible, and bring a refillable water bottle you can refill when safe to do so.
  • Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience.

Safety while Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi or Uber, and always have cash on hand. In most areas of Costa Rica, you’ll find both marked (legal, by the book) taxis and private cabs. For your safety, only take marked taxis. Throughout most of the country these are easy to identify, as they are red and have a yellow triangle painted on the doors.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone:  +1–617–619–1411

Money & Tipping

The local currency in the DR is the Dominican peso. However, because the DR is a popular destination for international tourism, many shops and companies may accept the US dollar. Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip:

  • When exchanging money for this trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but be wary of fees
  • Budget around $50-$70 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities

Tipping

  • Tipping is not customary abroad, but if you feel inclined it’s ok to leave 10% gratuity or a few pesos for exceptional service.
  • We recommend tipping your Tour Director $36- $54 at the end of the trip.
  • For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.

Packing

Your airline ticket does not include a checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us the lighter you pack, the better! We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See below for more packing tips:

Electronics: If traveling from the U.S., you don't need a power plug adapter in the Dominican Republic. Your power plugs fit. We recommend you to pack a 3 to 2 prong adapter in case type B sockets are not available. Your appliances with plug A and plug B fit.

Packing list:

  • 1 light wind/rain jacket
  • Comfortable walking/active shoes
  • Waterproof shoes or sandals
  • 1-2 pairs shorts
  • Longer active pants for walks and hikes
  • 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
    1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
  • 1-2 bathing suits
  • Beach – we love the Microfiber travel towel ($5-$20, Amazon.com)
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to it
  • Bug spray – in the tropics, you are guaranteed to encounter more than one bug
  • 1-2 bottles of travel-size sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash

Note: The DR is a tropical and sub-tropical climate. It has an average temperature of 70-80 F year-round, and has a rainy season September - November. There is no summer versus winter so bring plenty of layers including a rain jacket.

Also Note: Bring a smaller backpack to keep your clothes and items in during active days or when you’re at the beach. We recommend zip-lock bags to keep your phone and valuables dry.

Arrival Information & Transportation

Flight Preparation

Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.

  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
  • If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.

Arriving in Santo Domingo
Welcome to the Dominican Republic! Once you land, grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration.

Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group.

If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

Getting from A to B
All transfers between cities are via private bus and can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. Bring motion sickness medicine in case you’re prone to getting carsick; many of the roads in the DR are winding and up/downhill.

It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans Wi-Fi/ Cellular Data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time. Download the Latino Vibes playlists on Spotify to get in the mood!

Accommodations

While you are in the Dominican,  accommodations will be a combination of resorts, rustic lodges, and family-owned bungalow-style hotels. Be aware that tropical conditions make insects and other small animals (such as ants, mosquitoes, lizards, spiders, and frogs) more prevalent. This does not mean the accommodations are unclean; it is just a natural aspect of lodging in the Caribbean. Accommodation details will be posted in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

Unless you purchased a private room upgrade, standard rooming is 2-5 EF Ultimate Break travelers of the same gender per room. A few other things you can expect:

  • One private bathroom per room that you’ll share with your roommates
  • Limited Wi-Fi connection
  • Lower  water pressure and the amount of hot water can be limited, so be prepared for short showers.

If you have any questions about your rooming status or want to request a specific roommate you can do so in your online account up to 60 days prior to departure, by chatting in, or by giving us a call at 800-766-2645.

Language & Local Life

Speak the Language
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish, but most locals also speak English. Try your hand at some of the local language:

  • Hola: Hello
  • Adios: Goodbye
  • Gracias: Thank you
  • Buenos dias: Good morning
  • Buenas tardes: Good evening
  • Cómo estás?: How are you?
  • Estoy bien, Gracias!: I’m fine, thanks!
  • Lo siento, no entiendo: I’m sorry, I don’t understand
  • Donde esta ___: Where is ___

Note: Download Duolingo to practice your language skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!

Food, Drink & Free Time

You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.

  • Mangú: The breakfast staple is often served with eggs, fried Dominican salami and queso frito (fried cheese!) – also known as Los Tres Golpes (The Three Strikes). Yum.
  • Pastelitos: Pastelitos are small, stuffed pastries made with all kinds of fillings, like meat, cheese, vegetables and potatoes, and then fried
  • La Bandera Dominicana: Translating to “The Dominican Flag,” La Bandera Dominicana is the national standard lunchtime dish.
  • Tostónes: Twice-fried and then salted, tostónes are made from unripened plantains and most commonly served as a side dish
  • Tres Leches Cake: This three-milk cake is a sweet ending to any meal
  • Yaroa: This street food favorite is just the ticket. Made from mashed plantain or fries, yaroa is loaded with shredded meat and smothered with cheese and sauces.
  • Refrescos: In the land of fresh fruit, you must try the fresh fruit juices! Try cas (sour guava), maracuyá (passion fruit), tamarindo (tamarind), guanabana (soursop), piña (pineapple), sandia (watermelon), mora (blackberry), fresa (strawberry), and more!

Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. 
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account here for available add-ons.

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.

Bon voyage!

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