I bet you would never guess all of the 5 surprising things you need to bring with you to Jamaica.
One of the things you may not realize or remember is that although Jamaica is a tropical country it does get some weather turbulence such as the hurricane season, rainy season, a touch of a cold spell coming from North America during the winter, a dry and hot spell depending on where you’re located on the island and bearing that in mind there are a few things that you might not have thought about.
I’m sure that you have been regularly getting updates from the weather channel or you’re plugged into the Meteorological Service of Jamaica pointing to Jamaica’s balmy temperatures in the top corner of your computer screen. Well, one thing to remember is that just like a girl guide or boy scout you must always be prepared. I had to learn that the hard way.
Now I thought I came to Jamaica fully-prepared, fully packed, had all the essentials, and then some but I made a few errors when it came to the surprising things that I should have taken with me. There was one piece of advice that I DID listen to though and it’s one of the 5 surprising things that I will always appreciate although I never anticipated and I want to share them with you now.
5 Surprising Things To Bring
1. A dryer
Yes, a tumble dryer, a condenser dryer whichever you use you will need a dryer. I was going to leave mine behind but I was told in no uncertain terms to bring it with me and I’m so glad I did. You may only be thinking about the wonderful warm weather and the cool mountain breeze that could easily dry your laundry but you just can’t forget the rainy season when it’s difficult to get clothes dry or stop them from getting mildewed due to the humidity.
Sometimes for weeks on end torrential downpours of rain make it difficult for clothes to dry. It may stop for short intervals but unless you want to do a 100m sprint running back and forth like Usain Bolt trying to pick up the clothes in time without getting soaked, I wish you luck.
A couple of blankets will definitely come in handy. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term if the US sneezes the Caribbean catches a cold, well there’s an element of truth in this.
The longer you live in Jamaica the more you become acclimatized to the temperature and if there is extreme winter weather on the East Coast of America, unfortunately, Jamaica gets a tiny taste of it. This is where the blanket or a comforter or the 3 tog summer duvet comes in handy especially if you live in the hillier regions.
Now you may not use them very often but you’ll be glad you brought them with you.
3. Raincoat and warm clothes
Yes, yes I know Jamaica is a tropical country and one of the first things I was looking forward to was leaving all that cold and rainy weather behind along with my big bulky winter clothes in the UK but I forgot one thing. Suppose I want to travel back to the UK what the hell am I going to wear?
On two occasions in my early stages of being a returnee, I had to go to Chicago and Toronto on a ‘winter’ business trip and it wasn’t pretty.
First of all. I wasn’t familiar with either place so didn’t know the stores to go to and I was in the business districts. Once I put my luggage down from the airport at the hotel I quickly took a cab to take me to the nearest Target as that was the only US store name I could remember and I quickly bought a winter coat and a hat.
So take it from me, bring your winter coat or jacket, make sure it’s a classic style rather than fashionable so you won’t look outdated 2 years down the road, raincoats for the kids when they’re at school during the tropical showers here in Jamaica and just like the blanket scenario above, a couple of sweaters and sweatpants for you and the kids when the temperature drops and travels down the East Coast blowing icy winds down to the Caribbean.
4. Solar Indoor Lamps
This is quite a necessary addition if your home is not fully solar panelled up.
From time to time the local electricity company may have power outages or heavens forbid a vehicle, usually an unregistered ‘robot taxi’ will crash into a lamp post, this is more common than you think.
Although Jamaica is the perfect country for all things solar due to the amount of sunlight the country gets it is limited in the provision of solar accessories. You can get the obligatory garden solar lights and the camping Luci solar light but anything outside of that is few and far between.
Try to get your hands on a few household solar lamps and bring them with you as you just might need them to light the inside of your home in the night, for the kids to be able to do there homework, and again, it’s also great to have these items during the hurricane season in case of any serious power outages. Just remember not to charge these lamps in direct sunlight as the strength of the Jamaica sun will quickly burn out the cells.
5. Chest/Deep Freezer
If you’re a foodie like me, you will need a chest freezer. One of the things you will realize is that with a family you will end up buying in bulk and not just for cost savings but for the seasonal growth of food. Certain fruits and veg are not always in season so when they are you will need to stock up by freezing.
Examples of this are the Jamaican cherries, mangoes, pineapple, sorrel, pumpkin, red peas or green gungo peas/pigeon peas. It sounds like blasphemy freezing mangoes picked fresh from a tree but you would only do this when you have a glut of mangoes and they are fully in season. Just know it’s great for bulking up a smoothie.
I live in a rural setting and if you plan on living in a rural area too you will have friends, neighbours and people in the community such as farmers who will give you produce and I don’t mean a small amount.
For instance, 10lb of tomatoes, 5lb of onions on one day, a 20lb pumpkin, a huge yam on another day not to mention a whole bag of cucumbers and I haven’t even mentioned the fishermen that you or your husband might know. So as you can see a standard fridge/freezer just doesn’t cut it.
There are a whole host of other things that I could have mentioned but these 5 are definitely essential. By the way, in case you were wondering the majority of these things are all available here but as Jamaica is a country of imports you will end up paying a premium for these items.
If you want it in facts and figures according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica for the month of February 2018 Jamaica’s inflation rate was 4.8% compared with UK of 2.7%, US 2.2% and Canada 1.8%. If you want to see a chart based on the Jamaican imports compared to exports check out Trade Economics for more up to date information.
That’s something else you will have to learn, stop comparing prices to where you are living now, it will drive you insane but I’ll cover that in another post about shopping in Jamaica.
If you have any experience of being a returnee or an expat share what surprising thing you wish you had brought with you or what essential thing you just couldn’t leave behind.