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Caribbean Vacation Tips

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Originally named the West Indies by explorers seeking a sea route to India, the Caribbean is the region of tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea situated between North America and South America and east of Central America. With holidays-at-home 'staycations' the fashion after the credit crunch, Caribbean vacations are available at great prices at the moment as airlines and accommodation owners try to attract guests.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of the great deals now available in the Caribbean:

1. Check around the internet for the best deals on accommodation and airfares. Airlines are keeping routes and planes in the air to the minimum, so the best deals go quickly. If you can be flexible with your travel dates check out low season rates for the best offers. Hotels also fill up fast so consider other options available as well like renting a timeshare or vacation home.

2. Pack shorts, swimsuits and lightweight tops for daytime. Evenings are usually 'smart casual' but a light sweater or even jacket and tie may be needed for the most expensive restaurants and casinos. High factor sunscreen is essential along with insect repellent against mosquitos, and don't forget a hat to protect your head and face from the tropical sun.

3. Be polite to the locals - you are visiting their islands and you should be respectful of their ways. A smile will always go down well.

4. Never photograph islanders without asking permission. Most will be happy to oblige but some have religious objections and they may not want to be in any photos.

5. Most islanders have their own dialect, patois or creole as well as English or French - and they differ between islands. These may blend several languages and prove difficult to understand as a visitor. But they are a charming feature of local culture.

6. Driving is on the right side of the road on some islands, and on the left in others, but cars are imported and can have the steering wheel on the 'wrong' side. Drive carefully and watch out if you are a pedestrian.

7. Taxi trips and hiring drivers for island tours can be good value but make sure to agree a fare before you start your trip. Remember to confirm times for collection and return to your accommodation as time keeping can seem a bit 'relaxed' to people used to city living.

8. The Caribbean islands are proud of their natural heritage. 'Green' vacations are becoming increasingly popular and there are lots of opportunities for eco-tours and diving trips. Help keep the islands clean by disposing of trash carefully.

9. Local currencies vary but U.S. dollars are accepted in most places. Limit the amount of money you change into local currency as it could be poor value to exchange when you get home.

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