What is the first thing that comes to your mind when somebody mentions Barbados? Probably Rihanna, Tiger Woods’s wedding, luxury, awesome beaches, and… not a place for budget travellers. After spending three weeks on this tiny paradise island, I can also add ‘a lot of mosquitoes’ and ‘getting sunburnt’ to this list, but the most important finding is that Barbados is actually very friendly even to budget travellers. You only need to know what to look for. Honestly, I was able to survive on about 25-30 USD per day when in Barbados (accommodation and transport included!), meanwhile I spent about 40 USD per day in Guadeloupe.
At this point, I would like to mention that Barbados was my first destination outside Europe, and therefore I packed quite a lot of things that I did not even need. And I figured out that I could have bought most of the stuff in Barbados, and it would actually be even cheaper. But obviously, you can not always buy everything at the destination, and bringing the necessary stuff with you can also save you a lot of time.
So, what are those essentials that you have to bring to enjoy your Caribbean holiday?
Power plug!!! Why exclamation marks? If you are coming from Europe, the power sockets in Barbados are different than ours. And, of course, I did not want to bother with buying one before departure, so I decided to buy one at the airport in Barbados. But after a funny event that happened at the customs (I forgot to write down my hostel address and they almost sent me back home), I just wanted to get to my room as soon as possible and the power plug was not that important. I promised myself I will buy one in the afternoon, but as I found out, the major part of the shops is closed on Sundays. So I was without a battery for almost two days. Good job, Katja. A good solution is also to have one of those little power banks with you. Also, if you are travelling to an other Caribbean island, you have to check what kind of power plugs they are using.
Sunglasses, you will defnitely need them. The sun is very strong there and it can damage your eyes. Bring the polarizing ones and you will see, how awesome the sea colour looks through them. As an alternative, you can buy them at your destination from street vendors, but most of them probably don’t have the necessary protection from the sun. So I would say that it is better to bring them with you. After all, one pair of sunglasses does not take a lot of space.
A hat or something similar to protect your head from the direct sun. I did not bring one with me, but I bought one in Barbados on my second day, because I noticed that even locals are wearing them, so it seemed like a good idea to have one. And it indeed was a great idea, because honestly, before I travelled to Barbados, I never thought that it is possible to get sunburnt on the top of your head. Sadly, I found out that it is possible, and it feels terrible.
Trainers. This is almost a must – have item. But do not put them into the bag, wear them. I am sure that after a few days at the awesome beaches, you will also want to see something else (a wildlife reserve, underground caves or any other attractions that Barbados has to offer) and walking with flip flops all day can be deadly. Well, not literally. But the blisters can completely ruin your good mood.
High heels. First of all, they are not very comfortable. Secondly, they would take a lot of space in your carry – on bag. And last but not least, nobody is wearing high heels there, except in five – star resorts. Well, probably. I was obviously not in any of them. Take an extra pair of flip – flops instead.
Fancy dresses. Same as for high heels. And you can still buy one there if you need to. I have seen some beautiful ones, being sold on the streets by street vendors. Or you can bring a sarong – if you know how, you can wear it different way every day.
Mosquito repellent and sunscreen, which are not even allowed in the carry on. You can buy them at the airport when you arrive. Or in town. But be careful, if you land on Sunday, most of the shops in town are closed – avoid my mistake and do not walk on the hot sun across the city to buy a sunscreen in the shop, which I found out that was closed on Sunday.
An extra towel. Hey, you are in the Caribbean, the sun is hot and you can wash the towel, it will dry in a few minutes. If you have one of those fast drying towels, even better. I have bought mine in Primark, and considering the low price, durability and small size, this is one of the best inventions for travellers.
Winter clothing items. Do not be fooled – if you are travelling to Barbados during Europe winter time, it does not mean it will be cold in the Caribbean too! You will only need one long – sleeved shirt for the nights out (or maybe not) and a pair of jeans, because some bars are not okay with wearing shorts. It is not forbidden to go there in shorts, but you will see that most of the people are wearing jeans in the evenings. Also, they protect you from mosquitoes. Andi f you are a single woman traveller, from annoying local males. You know, the shorter shorts you wear, the more attention you get.
Snorkelling equipment. If you are travelling with a carry on only, the mask, snorkel and fins can take almost the whole space in the bag. But you definitely have to try snorkelling in Barbados, so what to do? You do not have to buy it there, you can simply rent it. You can do so at Boatyard in Bridgetown, and you do not have to bring the equipment back at the end of the day. Besides the rental price, you also have to pay a small deposit, which you will get back when you return the equipment at the end of your trip. The equipment is not a top quality, but you can choose from several brands and also try them on before renting.
Snacks. Well, you can bring a few energy bars for the first day, but that’s it. If you bring more, they will only take the space in your luggage, and you will find out that they are much cheaper in Barbados.
A lot of cosmetics. Take only the basics. After all, bringing five different kinds of powder is a nonsense – none of the shades will go well together with the water and the sun.
Laptop. If you have a smartphone, taking a laptop with you is not a wise decision. After all, you can do everything you need on a smartphone. And free WiFi is available in many places on the island, so you do not have to bother with high cost of data transfer. And, after all, you are on vacation – enjoy the beach, forget about checking Facebook every five minutes.
For the end…
After spending three wonderful weeks in Barbados, I can only recommend it to everybody that would like to disconnect from the real world and just relax. And you do not need a lot for a relaxing vacation. Other than that, Barbados has an excellent public transportation system, which covers almost every point on the island, so there is no need to use a taxi or rent a car (which are both quite expensive there), but the buses are crowded most of the time, so the smaller your luggage is, the easier you will squeeze in.