With a series of recent tourist deaths frequently appearing on our news feeds, it is no surprise that vacationing in the Dominican Republic has many weary.
Just last week, the New York Post reported a 38-year-old New Yorker died at a Dominican Republic resort hours after falling ill with a mysterious stomach virus.
Tasked with the daunting decision of whether or not they should ditch their travel plans to the Caribbean destination, many are left indecisive. Yet, while some may be worried, TV/radio personality Big Tigger does not seem to be too concerned.
When asked by a fan if he still plans to throw his pool party in the Dominican Republic, he responded, “#ABSOLUTELY. Last year 2018, 21 people (visitors) died by July as compared to 8 this year. Media attention got y’all scary. I been 6 years. #StillAlive”
In case you didn't know, the U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic at level 2 for safety, which advises visitors to “exercise increased caution due to crime.”
So you may be asking yourself, how do you stay safe if you have plans to travel to the Dominican Republic? Well, look no further.
We spoke with travel experts Jenn Earley, owner of Atlanta boutique travel agency Cultured Vacations, Danny Rivers Mitchell, founder/creator of Black Girls Travel Too; and certified travel consultant Monica Wildes to give us a few important rules and tips to know before traveling to the DR -- and anywhere else!
While it is trendy to explore destinations unknown and find local hot spots off the beaten path, it is not safe for a tourist to do so by themselves. Tourists should always be accompanied with a reputable guide of the area. Working with a travel agent – you can pre-plan experiences with reputable companies in advance, which is helpful when you are in an unfamiliar destination. -JE
Share your location on your iPhone when traveling with friends and family. It’s always great to make sure that others can check on your whereabouts just in case. - JE
If planning your experience to the DR on your own, do your due diligence to understand the correct airport to fly in that is closest to where you are staying – and make sure to get an arranged driver from/to the airport versus renting a car.
The streets aren’t like the streets in the U.S., so save yourself the pressure and the stress and use reputable local transportation companies. - JE
Plan to check in with friends and family daily. That way, if a daily check is missed, friends and family are alerted to something not being quite right. -JE
Make sure to pack a door stopper. That way if you are in the room by yourself, you can add that for some extra security. -JE
Check travel advisory for up-to-date happenings around safety and security. All travel advisories issued can be found here at travel.state.gov. -DRM
Never leave a drink unattended nor accept a drink that you didn’t order personally. Also, refrain from drinking any beverages that may be in your room. Especially those spirits that may be refilled daily. -DRM
Just because you are on vacation does not mean your best judgment should be. Do not travel alone to unknown locations during the day (i.e. renting a car or catching public transportation/taxi to explore the different communities) or on your resort after dark.
If you have booked an excursion, your resort should have a company on-site that handles transportation to and from a specific location. Never, ever leave your food and drink unattended no matter where it may be. If you see suspicious activity or individuals, use caution. - MW
Register with the U.S. STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). You will receive alerts directly to your cell phone and/or email, and it will be easier to locate you in case of an emergency. This is a free service to all U.S. citizens traveling abroad. - MW
Know where the nearest hospital is located. Have numbers readily available for the U.S. Embassy (located in Santo Domingo). Have complete information for your personal emergency contact (phone, email, address, etc). -MW
I cannot stress this enough. Preferably at the time of booking, but as soon as you possibly can after. Travel insurance provides an extra layer of protection in so many different circumstances. -MW
There are a lot of opinions circulating right now. Having advice and solid information will help to put your mind at ease. If you used an agent to book, he or she should automatically provide you with detailed information concerning your stay.
They should also be accessible to you until you return home. Should you choose to book your trip on your own, paying a small fee to consult with an agent is well worth the expense. Agents are privy to unbiased industry information that can assist you with your decision and make your stay enjoyable. -MW
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