If you’re planning on visiting the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, take a look at these 5 things to have in order before you go. Especially if you’ll be landing in Santiago.

1.  Pre-arrange airport pickup. This is especially important if you arrive at STI (Santiago) instead of POP (Puerto Plata). Santiago is a couple hours drive to the northern coast, and if you try to take a taxi, it can cost you close to $200 dollars. Even though things are cheap in the D.R., taxis are not. They sort of have a monopoly going on there. And no, there aren’t any ride share apps you can use. If you’re comfortable speaking the language and are traveling with a buddy, you could try to figure out the bus system. It’ll be cheaper, but might be time consuming. I usually try to avoid killing time on transportation when I can.

Your best bet is to hire a private ride. You can usually do a quick search online and come across a couple options. My recommendation is to go with Rosario. He’s a friendly independent ride service provider. He’ll pick you up from the airport and the price is reasonable considering that the ride includes an all you can drink bar during your ride. This means that the good times begin as soon as you exit the airport. You can find Rosario here.

Do not rent a car! Unless you’re brave enough to risk your life or know what to expect, do not rent a car. The Dominican Republic is not known for it’s safe driving.

2.  Get the right data plan for your phone. Chances are your current plan doesn’t include the Dominican Republic. If you have the usual major carriers, you’ll still be able to make calls, text and use data, but will get charged a premium. You have two options here. The first one is to contact your current carrier and ask for a temporary passport plan. Most major carriers offer some sort of temporary add on. The second option is to get a hold of an unlocked phone. You’ll be able to purchase a phone chip in the D.R. that will give you data for an affordable cost.

3.  Check out the weather. Depending on the time of year your traveling. You might encounter some rain. If so, you want to be prepared with some waterproof shoes. This is important because the D.R. is a humid place, so if you do get your shoes wet, they may not dry up for a while. Flip flops could work.

4.  Write down phone numbers and address to your destination. More often than not, your ride provider will know where you’re staying just by the name of your hotel. But, if you’re staying at an AirBnB, you’ll want to get as much information as possible in case your driver needs further instructions. Things like cross streets, nearby stores or name of the housing complex will help your driver know where you’re going. Things like google maps may not function like you’re used to.

Getting picked up from the airport and driven to your destinations is one of my favorite parts about traveling. And, so I hate not being able to enjoy that because I have to tell my driver which way to turn next.

5.  Get ready for the “Motoconcho”! The Dominican Republic has expensive taxis, but they have very inexpensive motoconchos. A motoconcho is just a dude on a motorcycle who will give you a ride to wherever you want to go for a very inexpensive amount. The locals use them a lot. I personally did not have the need or urge to ride in the back of a motorcycle helmet-less while hugging a man from behind, but if that’s your jam, more power to ya! Just be smart about it and keep in mind that drinking and driving is common practice in the D.R.

If you’re planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and have questions, feel free to contact me. Happy to pass on any knowledge.

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