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Keep Safe On Your Jamaican Vacation With These Tips

More than a million tourists flocked to Jamaica in 2014 to enjoy the island nation's white sand, eclectic cuisine, and laid-back vibe. If relaxing at a Jamaican villa is on your vacation wish list, it's important to know how to keep safe while you're traveling abroad -- especially if you plan on getting away from your villa and exploring the country. Although it's always advisable to check the U.S. Department of State's Jamaica website to ensure there are no current travel advisories, you can expect to have a positively memorable time during your vacation as long as you're vigilant about your safety. Here are some important tips to get you started.

Money Tips

The website About Travel warns against the frequent use of your credit card while visiting Jamaica, given that credit card fraud is a concern. To avoid being a victim, obtain Jamaican currency before you leave the United States and use cash as much as possible during your vacation. By using cash, you all but eliminate your chance of succumbing to credit card fraud. If you have to use your credit card, try to do so only at establishments that seem reputable, such as a licensed currency exchange at the airport. Avoid using street ATMs as doing so can increase your risk of being targeted for a snatch-and-grab crime.

Day Trips

Visiting any of Jamaica's cities allows you to see the authentic side of the country and all it has to offer. Although some tourist websites caution against travelers leaving their villas or resorts, many note that doing so is perfectly safe as long as you stay out of certain neighborhoods and exercise caution -- just as you would do while traveling in any American city. It's generally a smart idea to avoid showing large sums of cash while in public; keep a few dollars in your pocket and place the rest in a hidden money belt. Keep your jewelry modest or don't wear it at all. It's ideal to travel in a group and avoid being out at night. Jamaica's large cities have visible police anti-theft patrols; you shouldn't hesitate to flag down the authorities if you feel uneasy.

Interactions With Locals

Whether you're on a public beach or traveling through a city, you'll likely be approached by locals selling a wide variety of homemade products, food, and tourist-type gifts. If you're not interested in buying anything, it's best to decline politely and continue walking. It's also common to be approached by people who wish to sell you marijuana. It's a misconception that marijuana is legal in Jamaica, and buying or possessing it can land you in serious trouble with the authorities.