6 Steps to Budgeting for Your Jamaica Villa Vacation Cost
OK, so you have your airfare and the cost of the vacation rental to consider. What else is there to think about for your Jamaica villa vacation? What will your Jamaica villa vacation cost you?
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To prevent unwelcome surprises, think about your budget for when you are actually on the island. How much extra money will you need once you get there?
Here is a handy acronym: F-A-S-T3. Think of your food, activities, shopping for souvenirs, and the 3 Ts – tips, transportation, and testing for COVID-19.
Think through your food budget for your vacation. This will be perhaps your largest on-island expense.
Under budgeting for meals is one of the main areas where we’ve seen people run into problems. Do not assume that food in Jamaica is cheap. Farming techniques are not very well-developed in Jamaica with most foods produced by small farmers. As a result, the cost from farm to table is relatively high, maybe even higher than in the US. Additionally, many items have to be imported, which also adds to the cost.
Satisfying the tastes of a group of people at each meal is no small feat. Make sure you have enough money to buy enough food to keep everyone happy.
Sometimes group members erroneously believe that their villa provides the food. Very few villas include meals. Typically, food is purchased on your behalf based on the funds that you have made available.
It is a most difficult situation for the staff when many in a group expect to eat well but the group leader has not provided adequate funds for food. There is only so much that the chef can do to make a small amount of food serve a large group of people.
We have also had the opposite experience as well where the group leader has provided adequate funds which members in the group find excessive.
These are issues that need to be resolved within the group. Factoring a realistic amount of money for food and making sure that everyone’s expectations are in line with reality will make sure that your group will be able to delight in wonderful meals.
We recommend you budget about US$65-75 per person per day for groceries. This will vary up or down based on market prices as well as how much and what your group intends to eat. Seafood and steak are more expensive than chicken and will increase your costs. Fine wines and other alcoholic beverages will also increase your costs. Eating more local dishes typically lowers the bill. Multiple courses at meals will obviously increase the bill.
The question you must ask yourself is, “How well do I want to eat on vacation?” Once you have answered that question, budget for it.
Read more: The Skinny on Food Prices in Jamaica
What do you like to do for fun? Attractions, tours, additional amenities, and services (think spa) have associated costs so plan accordingly. Jamaica has a wide range of activities at various price points to suit guests with diverse interests. If money is no object, buy out a catamaran and go for a private tour. If you are a thrill-seeker, go ziplining. If you love caves, visit Green Grotto. If you just want to chill, lounge by the pool with your iPad for no extra charge.
Check out our options for things to see and do near us.
There is great shopping in Jamaica to suit various budgets. Do you plan to buy souvenirs, coffee, or artwork to take home? Do you plan on shopping at the local craft market or at stores selling trinkets and T-shirts? Or, are you looking for items that are a little more upscale and or more unique to Jamaica?
Read: 14 Things to Know Before Going Shopping in Jamaica
Different countries have different expectations when it comes to tipping. Tipping is expected in Jamaica, in particular at villas. Some attractions and all-inclusive hotels have a no-tipping policy but many don’t. It is not uncommon for employees, especially any sort of guide, to ask you for a tip if you do not offer one. Sure it can be annoying; but, at least you have been forewarned.
The standard tip for villa staff in Jamaica is a minimum of 10% of the cost of the villa rental in high season and 15% in low season. For weddings, the standard is 20-25%. Think of this as part of the cost for taking care of you during your stay, including the extra necessary cleaning with COVID precautions.
Plan to pay your gratuity in cash. US dollars are always appreciated and preferred.
Read more: The Stress-free Guide to Tipping in Jamaica at Villas and Vacation Rentals
Unless, you plan on lounging around your villa all day, which is fine, you should think about your transportation needs.
How will you get to and from the airport in Jamaica? Most villas do not include airport transfers in their rates.
How will you get around to see the sights while you are at the villa? Especially during COVID, you want to be using a van and driver service that understands and follows the safety protocols.
Remember you will have to reimburse the staff for the taxi fare to go grocery shopping on your behalf.
Most of our guests use a van and driver service for safety, reduced cost, and convenience. Divide the weekly cost of the van and driver service by the number of people in your group and you will realize what a deal you are getting. For groups, even small groups, getting the van and driver service is a no-brainer, in our opinion.
T: Testing for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel.
In April 2022, Jamaica stopped requiring COVID test, PCR or antigen, for entry. Check https://VisitJamaica.com for the latest updates.
The US and Canada require a negative COVID test to return.
At this time, (6/5/2022), even those individuals who have been vaccinated still need a negative test within 24 hours of arrival in the United States.
Be sure to check the requirements to return to your own country for re-entry as each country has different requirements, which could vary based on many factors, including vaccination status.
The cost for PCR testing at private labs in Jamaica is about $180-200 and $50-100 for the antigen test.
At the Montego Bay’s airport on 5/31/2022, the rapid antigen test cost US$50. (Kudos, to their team. They have a seamless process at the airport!)
One Last T: Travel Insurance
This should be purchased way in advance of your arrival. It isn’t an on-island expense but is a very important component of international travel during the pandemic.
Protect your budget from unexpected COVID-related mishaps. Be sure to purchase travel insurance, ideally the cancel for any reason option. Strongly consider medical travel insurance since most health insurance plans do not provide coverage outside of your local area. Plan ahead and enjoy the worry-free travel experience that you deserve.
Many people are initially caught off-guard by the total anticipated cost of renting a villa.
Take a deep breath.
Remember that the total estimated amount covers the cost for your entire group.
Divide the total cost by the number of people in your group to get the per person group.
So, relax. If you remember the acronym F A S T3 – food, activities, shopping, tips, transportation, testing – you will have a good handle on estimating the cost of your Jamaica villa vacation. And, last but not least, don’t forget travel insurance.
‘Til next time.
Think and dream Jamaica!
Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian
Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.
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