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.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- 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 countries, 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.
- Talk with your doctor: 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.
- Traveling 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.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Arrival Information & Transportation
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 through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!
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!
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: Flying across the globe and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. 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 nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, we recommend bringing a refillable water bottle!
- Be prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- 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. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling the Dominican Republic. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and vaccine / entry requirements.
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth. It's safe to shower in tap water, but avoid getting it in your mouth.
- Though mosquitoes may not be incredibly common in popular parts of the Dominican Republic, they can carry diseases. Be sure to pack bug spray just to be safe.
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.
- Pick-pocketing is fairly common. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
- While beachfront bars and restaurants may be safe, avoid walking on the beaches themselves at night.
- Watch out for rip currents while swimming in the ocean.
- 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.
- Always call for a reliable taxi. Don't hail one off of the streets.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
Women in the Dominican Republic
Female travelers should be prepared for some degree of cat-calling and harassment in the Dominican Republic. EF Ultimate Break and the Tour Director will do everything in our power to prevent and preempt this kind of behavior. We understand it’s easier said than done, but ignoring most verbal harassment is usually the best policy. Act confidently and keep walking forward, but always exercise caution and stay with a buddy or group.
LGBTQ+ rights and protections leave a lot to be desired in the Dominican Republic, but the tourism industry is rather friendly to the community. You are unlikely to face discrimination from establishments like hotels or restaurants, but you may face a different attitude with the general public.
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 more packing tips below.
- 1 light wind/rain jacket
- Comfortable walking/active shoes
- Waterproof shoes or sandals
- 3-4 pairs shorts
- Longer active pants for walks and hikes
- 4-5 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- 1-2 bathing suits
- Beach towel (microfiber towels dry quickly and pack small)
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to it
- Bug spray
- 1-2 bottles of travel-size sunscreen
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- 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.
Money & Tipping
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
Budget around $50-$70 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
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.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $36- $54 at the end of the trip.
- For your bus driver, we recommend tipping $2-$3 per day.
- For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
- Tipping is not customary abroad, but if you feel inclined it’s ok to leave 10% gratuity or a few pesos for exceptional service.
It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local language, Spanish! Try out some of these popular words and phrases:
- Hello: Hola
- How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
- Goodbye: Adiós
- Thank you: Gracias
- Please: Por favor
- I’m (your name): Soy (your name)
- I’m from (your country of residence): Soy de (your country of residence)
- How much does this cost? Cuánto cuesta?
- Where is the...?: Dónde está...
- bathroom: el baño
- bus stop: la parada de autobús
- pharmacy: la farmacia
Note: Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
The people of the Dominican Republic are vibrant, proud, and very hardworking. And the more you express interest in their culture, the more you'll be welcomed with open arms. Here's just a handful of fact to get you started.
- Merengue and bachata music originated in the Dominican Republic. You'll hear these styles everywhere in your travels, so consider learning a few dance steps!
- It's the norm to announce yourself with a "Buenos dias/Buenas tardes/Buenas noches (Good morning/afternoon/evening)" when entering any establishment.
- Baseball is the national sport of the Dominican Republic, and many people are very passionate about it. You may see lots of people practicing or games being played if you pass by any parks.
- Especially in more rural parts of the Dominican Republic, siestas (midday breaks a lot of businesses close down for) are still common. For some this means having a long hearty lunch, for some it means taking a nap, and for some it means both of those things.
- Haggling is the way to shop in many places. Offer about half of the initial price, don't show too much interest, and don't be afraid to walk away.
Food & Drink
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!
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.