When you’re staying in a tropical paradise sometimes you can forget to plan for the misadventures. You’re in paradise, you figure. Everything here is perfect. You are in an idyllic place, no argument, but you’re still you. And if you’re half as clumsy or prone to misadventure as me that means it’s important to be prepared for the occasional mishap in the Caribbean! So, whether you’re just visiting or planning on staying here are some things to watch out for (and what to do when you experience them) in the Antilles!
Prepare to Sweat
This sounds like an obvious thing and I know I go on about it a lot but it’s true. Unless you live on the equator or in the fiery crater of a super volcano the chances are it’s hotter than you can imagine in the Caribbean. On a cold day it dips down to what we’d call a “scorcher” as we tut and wipe sweat from our brow in the U.K. On a really really record-breakingly cold day in the Caribbean we’d call it summer in Scotland, and enjoy one day of fleeting heat before winter resumes.
The heat can be incredibly pleasant! And we live in a world of modern conveniences so when you’re too hot you can just head inside to cool off no problem. But try to prepare (at least mentally) for the heat and bring appropriate clothing.
NB: this is really hard and something I struggled with before moving here but I found staring intensely hard at beach spreads in magazines and shorts on sale in online stores particularly helped me get into the mindset.
Respect Your Body
Sunscreen is great but so is water and food. You might find (like I did) that in the heat your body just stops wanting food altogether. More accurately, it stops telling you it wants food.
What this means is you can’t always rely on hunger as an indicator of whether you actually are hungry! I’m kind of an instinctual eater so for me actually paying attention to what time it is and what I should be eating (Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast, Tea?) is not something that comes naturally. But I have been trying. I still slip up occasionally and then, late at night, I have intense pains in my stomach that I’m loathe to call hunger because it feels more like a black hole opening up inside my torso. The only cure to these pains seems to be some sort of midnight pizza ceremony but I’m sure most foods would work.
What I’m trying to say here is don’t forget to look after that body! It won’t always know what it needs all of the time so you’ll need to either develop a sixth sense or overload it with water, sunscreen, snacks, and shade. Heat exhaustion is no joke.
But Seriously, Observe the Shade
You’ve come all this way to the Caribbean. You’re not NOT going to stand in the sunlight. I get that. Sometimes I pause between my car and the supermarket and just let the sun shine on me for a moment. Everyone here totally and one hundred percent understands your need. But, also, consider not spending all of your time enjoying the rays of the sun. You might look around at the beach or in the supermarket and think I want that person’s tan. I want to be as like them or maybe you super duper enjoy the sunshine in general and you want to maximise that enjoyment.
You’re not going to develop a tan that rivals all other tans during just a short visit (maybe even during a long visit either). Nor should you really try to! Intense sunshine time is a speedy ticket to intense UV rays. Beyond UV rays, sunshine can make you feel really unwell if you’re not used to it.
You might feel like the cool kids don’t use shade and this is all part of some kind of elaborate ruse to make sure I can always find a good spot at the beach but… this is not true! Even during my local beach volleyball league (which, as the name indicates, is on the beach) ninety percent of players wait in the shade until their game. And I’m sure the other ten percent regret their life choices the next day or are, more likely, on their way to the bathroom dripping sweat with every step they take.
If you’ve done your research about where your visiting — seriously, do some research — you should vaguely know the top things to watch out for in the area. For me, there are some botanicals and some animals to make sure you don’t go near and that’s probably true of most tropical places. In general when you travel I think it’s important to know a thing or two about the local area. It varies so wildly even in the Caribbean I can’t give you many specifics.
It can range from knowing which insects are likely to be around when (mosquitos in May, but also generally all year round are a thing here) to which areas of a place are safer than others, or which way the ocean currents generally flow (imho a big thing to know if you’re considering a beach holiday).
Injury and sickness is always a concern when travelling so don’t forget about insurance whether you’re travelling or staying long term.
And something goes awry or maybe you didn’t prepare enough your saving grace from misadventures will be the locals! People are generally good in this world, and when it comes to misadventures most of us want to help out fellow people. Forgot the sunscreen? Somebody will have spare. Worried about something you just stood on? Someone will know how to help. Concerned about something you just saw in the ocean? Ask somebody! It’s better than having a disastrous misadventure and you’ll make new friends too.