Caribbean Adventure: Dominican Republic
Know Before You Go
It's almost time to go abroad! Take a couple minutes to read up on the ins and outs of your trip before you leave. When it comes travel tricks of the trade, we're quite the experts. And with this guide, so are you.
Your flight information will slide into your DMs (AKA online account) 30 days before departure. This is usually when you get to choose your seat and have the age-old internal debate: window or aisle? Some airlines will make the selections for you, so be sure to talk with the gate agent at the airport if you have a preference. Like being ahead of the game? You can check in for your flight 24 hours prior to your trip using the confirmation number found in your online account. If you’re more of a “wait ‘til the last minute” kind of person, no worries. You can always check in at the airport upon arrival. Either way, we recommend arriving to the airport 2-3 hours before departure.
Note: All your ticket information is online (e-ticket), so you will not receive a physical paper ticket before you depart. You’re welcome, trees.
Checking a Bag
Your flight does not include a checked bag in your airfare, so we recommend limiting your luggage to a carry-on. You’ll find you have the best experience when traveling with a day-pack, and a larger carry-on like a small suitcase or duffel bag. Not only does this guarantee you won’t lose your luggage, but it’s easier to manage when traveling throughout the country!
After getting off the plane—and probably hitting up the airport bathroom—you’ll need to meet up with your Tour Director or EF Ultimate Break representative in the Arrival Hall. (They’ll be the one with the sign that says EF Ultimate Break.) They’ll bring you to your accommodations where you’ll have free time until everyone else arrives.
Note: If you’ve booked your own airfare or have a Special Travel arrangement at the beginning of your trip, airport transfers are not included.
For U.S. citizens, no visa is necessary (except of the credit card variety). All you need to bring is your passport. And not to sound like your grandma, but make sure you double check that it’s valid for six months after your expected return date. For non U.S. citizens, you should contact your embassy to find out what specific documentation is needed.
Outlets in the Dominican Republic are the same as in the United States. We recommend that you pack a 3 to 2 prong adapter, as the power socket types can vary from place to place.
Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers. Again, remember you’ll have to carry your luggage from city to city, so the lighter the better
You should bring the following:
- Light jacket or windbreaker / rain jacket
- Comfortable and closed-toed walking shoes
- Beach stuff: swimsuit, sunglasses, hat, towel, rash guard
- At least one pair of water-proof shoes (for white-water rafting)
- Water bottle
- Rain jacket/umbrella
- Small bag/backpack for day-to-day activities
On The Ground
The official currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso, and 1 USD currently equals approximately 50 Dominican Peso. We suggest budgeting $50-$60 per day for your meals, shopping, free time activities, tipping, and any Tour Director-suggested excursions. The best exchange rates can be found at ATMs, and machines are everywhere; be prepared for low maximum withdrawal limits, and limits on the amount of withdrawals you can take out per day. Some of the most reliable Banks in the DR include: Banco Popular, Banco Progresso, Ban Reservas, Banco Leon, and Scotiabank. Be sure to let your bank know ahead of time that you will be traveling abroad, and make sure your credit or debit card has an international chip.
Currencies used: Dominican Peso
Note: Credit and debit cards are increasingly more common in the DR and widely accepted by businesses. It’s normal to see a 16% surcharge on credit card purchases.
Phones & Internet
We recommend you get an international data package from your cell phone provider. This way you can use your phone to share Insta-worthy moments, pull up Google maps to navigate a new city, and stay in touch with your Tour Director and fellow travelers during free time. WiFi may be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars but a data package will be the best way to stay connected. Keep in mind that you will be traveling in more rural areas, so even with data you may have spotty service or go completely off the grid. When this happens, kick back and relax in your newfound state of “unplugged.”
Tour Director/Local Guides
Your full-time Tour Director, aka local rock star, will be with your group from start to finish. They’re an expert when it comes to this location, and your go-to person during the trip. From time to time, you might also have a local guide to show you around specific attractions. For both your Tour Director and local guides, it is customary to tip for a job well done.
Recommended tipping amounts in USD are:
- $27 – $45 for the Tour Director (given at the end of the trip)
- $10 – $12 for your local bus driver (given after tour, or $1-$2 per day per bus driver)
- $1 – $2 for local guides (given at the end of the activity)
You’re traveling to Germany, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach. For the most part thYou’re traveling throughout the Dominican Republic (DR), and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each place. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach. Use this time to catch up on sleep, organize and find the perfect filter for your photos, read, chat it up with your friends, or invent a new bus game.
Note: You may find your bus winds through a number of back roads. If you’re prone to motion-sickness, we recommend you bring your friend Dramamine along for the ride.
We lay the groundwork for the must-see sights, but also include plenty of free time for you to do your own thing. Your Tour Director might also schedule some additional excursions during that free time (we 10/10 recommend), so check with them before making any reservations in case of a schedule change. The Dominican is a perfect blend of adventure of relaxation, so be sure to seize the adventurous moments in the jungle, and soak in the down time on the sandy beaches. This is YOUR trip, and we want to help you make the most of it!
Get ready to discover what a blend of African, Spanish, Taíno, and Middle Eastern Flavors really tastes like. During this trip you’ll have the chance to sample a variety of local dishes. Vegetarians shouldn’t have any problem finding something to eat. As for the water situation, do not drink the tap water, all Dominicans drink bottled water and it is readily available everywhere you go.
Check out these local foods to try:
- Guineos: Known in the U.S. as bananas, in the DR they serve guineos boiled, stewed, candied, and mashed. Try mangú, which is boiled and mashed plantains mixed with pork rinds!
- Dulce de coco: A mouth-watering coconut fudge experience
- Mofongo: A dish consisting of fried plantains mashed with salt, garlic, and oil in wooden pilon
When in the Dominican you’ll live like they do. That means you’ll stay in hotels and lodge-style accommodations that may be different than American rooms; some accommodations do not have amenities such as air conditioning or elevators. Since you’re staying in places along the beach and in the jungle, you should expect to fall asleep to the relaxing sounds of waves, bugs and birds chirping, and the occasional gecko may come to say hello. In standard rooming, you’ll share a room with anywhere between 1-5 other travelers of the same gender from your group. Roommates are assigned by your Tour Director and announced at the first accommodation. If there’s an issue, or you’d like to request a specific roommate at the next accommodation, talk to your Tour Director—that’s what they’re there for!
Keep In Mind
Hot, humid, and heavy doses of Vitamin D. Welcome to the Caribbean! On this trip, it will be important stay hydrated and reapply sunscreen. December through February are high (hot) season in the DR, with more tropical rain from March to July. Everything in-between just gets a bit cooler. We suggest adding the Dominican to your weather app so you can get the most recent information.
Useful Phrases and Expressions
Though many people in the Dominican Republic speak English, the national language is Spanish. Here are some basic phrases to brush up on before leaving. Most importantly: how to toast! And no, we don’t mean your bread. Say “salud!”
- Hello = Hola
- Goodbye = Adiós
- Good Morning = Buenos días
- Good Afternoon = Buenas tardes
- Good Night = Buenas noches
- Please = Por favor
- Thank You = Gracias
- Yes = Sí, No = No
- Where is ___? = Dónde está ____?
- How are you? = Cómo estás?
Here are some important “Rules of the Road” to think about while you’re traveling. We want you to have fun during your vacation, and most of all we want you to be safe—so here are some helpful tips to #playsafe while you’re abroad & especially when you’re out at night.
- Take care of your personal belongings. 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, and refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Don’t be a party of one. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at each hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use transportation options you trust like a licensed taxi or rideshare app such as Uber (where available.) Have cash on hand—splitting a taxi with your fellow travelers is a good way to save money too.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. You know the drill: 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. Pace yourself and know your limits. Take care of each other out there!
- You’re going to have a blast—day & night—on this trip, and we’re here for you around the clock if you ever need anything. Save our 24/7 number in your phone now: +1–617–619–1411.
If you’re bringing a waterproof camera or GoPro, make sure to bring proper straps and accessories. When it comes to free time, think about what your interests are and research what you want to do before your trip. That way you can maximize the time in each city you visit and check a lot of things off your list. Before leaving, speak to your primary physician about any recommended vaccinations/medications you may need.
You’re traveling to the Dominican Republic! Now is the time to be brave—try new foods, make new friends, and go outside your comfort zone.