Whenever I travel to Jamaica there are some items that I religiously buy in the UK to take with me, I love to travel but I also want to look and smell good in the process and there are some things a woman simply cannot do without! These are my list of ‘Most Wanted’ items to put in the toiletries bag, no matter how long or short the trip to Jamaica.
As a point of reference, a friend of mine recently came round to try to persuade me not to emigrate to Jamaica and when he finally gave me a chance to speak after ranting for 20 minutes, I explained why his arguments were unfounded and that the longest I would be gone for was 6 months in one go. This seemed to soothe his fractured mind so much so that he replied “I feel much better now that I let you talk” (my eyes rolled) He then retorted with “If you do go to Jamaica you won’t turn into a hippy will you?”. I nearly keeled over laughing at this last remark, as that would defiantly not be happening anytime soon… I plan to be a Hot Gyal ’til mi dead!
A point to make for all those who plan to travel to Jamaica: Jamaicans look GOOD and invariably smell GOOD too, so if you want to fit in follow their example! They even sing about the topic, a case in point is the wonderful song by Red Dragon ‘ Hol a fresh’ this is the first chorus of the song:
And mi seh all who nuh bathe from morning run go hol a fresh!
Go hol a fresh! Go hol a fresh!
All who nuh bathe from evening run go hol a fresh!
Go hol a fresh! Go hol a
And how you wake up this morning and you don’t hol a fresh!
Evening pass and you don’t hol a fresh!
Water deh bout here, you is a dirty wretch water come now
Tek up the rag, tek up di soap and run go hol a fresh!
Come out a di dance if you nuh dead and run go hol a fresh!
What to Bring…
Top Tip! If you are going away for up to 2 weeks then stick to travel sized versions of your favourite products, which are readily available in most high street chemists (drug stores/pharmacy) in the UK or the airport. If your favourites aren’t there, or to economise a little, you can decant products into smaller clean and empty bottles.This will not only give you more space in your bag or case, it also frees up more of your (stingy) weight allowance for shoes and such like! Just remember to store them in a bag or tape the lid down well to limit the risk of messy explosions in your luggage.
If you have Afro-Caribbean type hair, you are spoilt for choice for hair products and most of the products from the USA and are readily available. Some larger chemists (pharmacy / drug store) and supermarkets sell familiar UK brands, but they are invariably very expensive. If you are of white heritage it is advisable to buy your favourite brands of shampoo, conditioner and styling products from the UK and bring them with you, as the majority of the products for sale in Jamaica are for hair of black heritage and maybe too oily for your hair type.
It is hot and humid so you may find your hair gets drier and more frizzy than usual especially after long periods in the sun and swimming, so buy your products accordingly. Hair serum or one of the Moroccan hair oil brands work well to calm most types of unruly hair. I also bring cans of Baptiste Dry Shampoo with me as this is great between washes to give your hair a freshen up, especially when you are in an area that has a shortage of water.
Obviously we do not usually only have hair growing on our heads, so I am going to tackle the topic of hair and its removal or freedom to sprout from other areas of the body! Many female Jamaicans, especially in the country areas do not shave their under arms or legs, so if you want to go natural you won’t be scorned in the same way that you would in the UK. However, if like me you prefer to stay hair free then I would advise that you either get a good wax before you come out, or as I do and invest in some razors and bring them with you as the better brands are expensive to buy. I prefer to use the men’s Gillette razor and bring multi-packs of the razor heads with me along with the holder and a tube of Nair cream for the bikini area. Please be warned, it is likely that you will produce more hair than normal so come prepared… it must be the weather!
A good face wash or scrub or even a face mask, if you are really adventurous works wonders to slough off old skin and keep that face looking fresh. It is hot in Jamaica, you are going to sweat, and your skin may get spotty and unattractive looking if you do not regularly give it a good wash! It is hard to keep make-up on your face as it has a tendency to slide off during the day, therefore fresh skin is essential if you want to get away with minimal cover up. Face cream / moisturiser is essential and your face will love you for it especially if it has sunscreen, no matter what skin colour you have. Unless you have oily skin being in the extremes all day will dry out your skin even more than usual so a good (not necessarily expensive) cream will do wonders for your skin tone.
I tend to bring soap and a bottle of shower gel with me so I have it available when I arrive, but when it runs out I buy ‘Irish Spring’ soap which is a popular brand available in the majority of the larger retail outlets for around $110 each. During the day I tend to use suntan lotion as my body lotion and then in the evening after I bathe I use a tan intensifier or a thick cream such as Victoria Secrets, which smells gorgeous and hydrates my skin and which I stock up on in duty-free.
This is not something many people want to talk about, much less have to inhale!… being called ‘green’ in Jamaica is not a compliment as it implies you are not very fresh smelling! Come on people, it’s hot and humid in Jamaica you are going to sweat, a lot, and on a regular basis, so some simple precautions can help you stay feeling fresh and clean all day long! Obviously regular washing (of at the very least your ‘crevices’) is the key to freshness, but using a deodorant or anti-perspirants helps massively… I tend to buy some roll on deodorant which I leave where I am staying and stock up on the mini travel versions of the spray deodorants, so that I can pop one into my bag in case of emergencies.
Small packets of wet wipes or baby wipes are also a good friend for a multitude of sticky situations (if you will excuse the phrase) and at a push can be used for a quick swipe of sweaty bodily places when on the go, followed by a blast of mini sized deodorant…. ah fresh again! Another tip is to buy a body mist (not the aerosol type) the more watery based spray type, which you can blitz yourself with when feeling over heated as they not only cool you down, but carry a sweet refreshing scent where perfumes are often too heavy (and expensive).
Women’s Hygiene Products
Many retail outlets do not have a wide range of internally worn protection, such as, UK known brands, Tampax or Li-lets, but they do tend to stock a range of sanitary towels. It is not often that you will see ‘thong’ shaped panty-liners for sale either, so if you prefer these types of products it is advisable that you bring them with you to be on the safe side.
My next post will have details of my other essentials to buy and organise before you leave to your trip to Jamaica….