Our experience in Margarita was unforgettable in both positive and negative spheres. I got to do some amazing things like swim with dolphins, eat unusual foods, and watch Ryan play baseball in another part of the world. Unfortunately, Ryan got sick about three weeks into our stay, and we were sent home early after he wasn’t getting any better. If I had to do it again (which I hope we get to!) I would do things a little differently. Here are my tips for extended travel in another country, particularly in the baseball world:
1) You will probably be given very little information about your travel plans. Don’t expect an itinerary, hotel information, or team travel info to come to you until the last minute. If you are like most baseball girlfriends and over-achievers in the planning department, have a drink or take a chill pill. If you don’t expect to hear anything, you won’t panic like I did.
2) If you don’t speak the language, translate some key phrases on a piece of paper before you leave. This will come in handy if you are alone at the airport, stadium, or even the hotel. Don’t assume that people will speak English. Some phrases Ryan wrote down for me that helped me get along:
“My boyfriend (husband) plays baseball for the _________”
“Where is the (bathroom, stadium, clubhouse, American Airlines)?”
“How much is it?”
“ My room number is _____. I am staying at the _____ hotel.”
3) Try to find out the best way to exchange currency. The “little miss planner” in me insisted on exchanging our money before we left and we got less than half compared to other players. Ask people who have gone before, but the black market can your friend. As long as you are safe exchanging money, you can get a lot more. The casino at our hotel gave us $8 for each American $1 compared to $3.7 from an American bank. Bring extra American cash and carry it on your person at all times while travelling.
4) Do you need a converter for your plugs? An adapter?
5) If you are staying in a hotel, you will not have many home amenities. It isn’t a bad idea for long stays to pack powder laundry detergent, extra cosmetics and bathroom supplies, and even some food. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort where we were not on the all-inclusive plan. It gets expensive! Instant oatmeal, crystal light packets, gum, and protein bars are all worth taking.
6) If you are on a budget, seek out a grocery store. You can save a lot of money buying groceries for meals at the hotel and eating your dinners at the field.
7) Don’t expect to be able to travel with the team. We tried really hard and were unsuccessful. Pack books and movies. Some Internet sites (like Hulu and specific channel sites) don’t stream in other countries. This really sucks when you are alone at night hoping to catch up on TV. Netflix online does work though; it may be worth signing up.
8) If you are going to a third world country (The Dominican, Venezuela) BE CAREFUL OF THE WATER! This isn’t just drinking water. Don’t eat vegetables that are raw and washed, fruits that aren’t in a peel, or drinks with ice. We learned that one bad salad can send you packing your bags.
9) Pack for things to be unpleasant and pretty. Stomach parasites are common and chances are someone will get sick. If you pack: Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, sunscreen, aloe, a thermometer, tums, pepto bismol, earplugs, and chapstick you will have a good starting point. Ending up in a third world emergency is no bueno.
10) BE SMART AND BE SAFE! This is not your country, and you don’t know the rules. Don’t travel anywhere alone, even in the daytime. Always get a cab from your hotel, not outside it. See if the team will arrange for you to be picked up for games, and insist on travelling with your boyfriend home from the stadium.