E-1-1-Travel Checklist

Travel Checklist

This page contains everything you need to know to plan your Purpose Bound trip. Be sure to take care of items 1 thru 7 immediately.

(1) Register for Your Trip. If you haven't already done so, register for your chosen experience and make the deposit payment. (Note: After registering, we will send you information that supplements the material on this web site.)

(2) Book Your Flights. As a general rule, the sooner you book, the more you will save on airfare.

For our Virgin Islands experiences, you will be flying in and out of St. Thomas through the modern Cyril E. King Airport (STT) located in the southwest portion of the island (see map). You will need to arrive in St. Thomas no later than 2:00 pm on your voyage departure date to give you enough time to get to our dock and checked in for our strict 3:00 boarding deadline. (We recommend much earlier, or even the prior day, to give room for flight delays, or if you check luggage. It can be expensive for you to catch up with us once the trip commences!) Your outbound flight should be no earlier than 1:00 pm on your voyage conclusion date.

For our St. Martin experiences, you will be flying in and out of St. Maarten through the modern Princes Juliana International Airport (SXM) located in the southwest portion of the island (see map). You will need to arrive in St. Maarten no later than 4:00 pm on your voyage departure date to give you enough time to get to our dock and checked in for our strict 5:30 boarding deadline. (We recommend much earlier, or even the prior day, to give room for flight delays, or if you check luggage. It can be expensive for you to catch up with us once the trip commences!) Your outbound flight should be no earlier than 1:00 pm on your voyage conclusion date.

In booking your flights, we suggest first using the general travel sites to check general flight schedules and pricing (e.g., Trip AdvisorExpediaTravelocity). Then use that information to book direct with the particular airline(s) desired, as this will facilitate any future flight changes if needed, seat selection, etc. (If you are not comfortable booking your own flights, you are of course free to use a travel agent of your own choosing. Simply refer them to this web site for important travel information.) Travel tip: sit on the left side of the aircraft for the best chance for views of St. Thomas and St. Martin as you arrive.

(3) Send Us Your Flight Itinerary. As soon as your flights are booked, please send your flight itinerary to us by email so that we can double-check your flight details and begin planning for your arrival.

(4) Fulfill Passport Requirements. Travel to the Caribbean requires a U.S. passport with an expiration date at least 6 months after your return date. Applying for a new passport, or renewing an expiring one, is a simple process explained on the U.S. Department of State passport web site. For a new passport, most people can simply download the application form and then take it along with the following items to a local passport office: a certified copy of their birth certificate, some other form of ID, a passport photo and the fee. Renewals can generally be done by mail. Normal processing times are about 4-6 weeks, but there are various expedite options available if your travel date requires quicker turnaround. (Note: The visas required for you to enter the various foreign countries will be obtained for you by your Vessel Skipper and/or Trip Leader at the dock upon arrival.)

(5) Consult a Doctor about Immunizations/Vaccinations. This should be tended to at least 4-6 weeks in advance of your trip departure date or as soon as possible if your trip departs sooner than that. When setting up your appointment, be sure your doctor is familiar with travel medicine. If they are not, you can use the travel medicine doctor finder on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site. Either way, be sure to take your vaccination/immunization records with you. Your doctor will let you know of any additional country-specific immunizations required and discuss other travel health matters as described on the CDC web site.  In addition, if you are prone to motion sickness, you should consult with your doctor about a patch or other solution, which may be as simple as using the over-the-counter medication meclizine (i.e., Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine).

(6) Do Your Two "Homework" Assignments. There are two important assignments: (A) First, please read What On Earth Am I Here For - The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, as we will refer to it daily and expect you to be familiar with it. It is to be read one chapter a day for 42 days, with each chapter taking only about ten minutes to read. (B) Second, exercise. Our program is an outdoor adventure involving missions work, sailing, water sports, hiking, and other mildly strenuous physical activities. If you don't already engage in a fitness routine, you will want to start one, even if it is as simple as a brisk walk a half hour per day 3-4 days per week.

(7) Prepare for Your Trip. The paragraphs below as well as the remaining links under our "Travel Planner" menu contain very important additional information about your experience. The combination of international travel, visiting underdeveloped areas and sailing is probably new to you, so you will want to learn as much about it as you can before departure so as to avoid any surprises as well as to get the most out of your experience.

Other Important Information

Getting to Us From the Airport. For our Virgin Islands experiences, our vessels depart from Red Hook, which is on the east end of St. Thomas. For our St. Martin experiences, our vessels depart from Oyster Pond, which is on the east side of the island. Depending on traffic, each is about a 25-30 minute taxi ride from the airport to our dock. Once you register for a trip, we will be in contact with you and provide further information on getting to us from the airport. We cover the cab fare.

Island Travel Facts. Please visit our Island Travel Facts page to learn about weather, languages spoken, currency, banking, and other useful information unique to traveling in the islands.

What to Pack. Please visit our Packing Checklist page for a detailed list of items recommended or required to be brought with you, and limitations on the type of luggage to use. 

Consider Optional Trip Insurance. Please visit our Optional Insurance page so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase travel insurance and/or travel medical insurance.

Consider Optional Pre- or Post-Trip Travel Add-Ons. Please visit our Optional Excursions page if you are considering spending a little more time in the islands either before or after your experience.

About International Travel. As long as you have your U.S. passport, travel in the Caribbean is quite simple compared to other foreign countries. Once you are on your voyage, the skipper or trip leader will actually handle all of your country entries and departures (including paying any fees and taxes). However, prior to departure you should become familiar with international travel requirements and procedures by visiting our International Travel page. This should be considered part of your missions training, whether or not you plan on taking any foreign country mission trips in the future.

Review Our FAQs. Our FAQs page contains other important information about your voyage.

Understand Sailing Realities. Very loosely speaking, sailing is similar to camping in an RV. Our vessels are configured and furnished for overnight sailing voyages with on-board cooking, but everything is packed into a relatively small space. You will be living in close quarters with fellow participants and crew, and sharing a small sleeping cabin with a same-sex fellow participant (or your spouse or family member). Bathrooms are very small, and you will hand-pump the water you use. Meals and snacks will be simple, and on missions days, you may be eating a sack lunch. Sunburn and windburn are realities to prepare for, and certain people may be prone to motion sickness. Every boat is different, and they do not always offer air conditioning, but ocean breezes generally make for acceptable sleep. Though it's not a luxury resort experience, virtually everyone finds a sailing voyage to be an incredibly peaceful and relaxing experience, and any inconveniences fade away with each passing day.

Understand the Realities of Underdeveloped Nations. In planning your trip, prepare yourself for an adventure, perhaps unlike anything you've ever experienced before. While parts of the Caribbean are not dissimilar to the U.S., other areas will seem very foreign, with modern conveniences lacking and poverty very evident. Vehicular travel can be interesting, because in most island countries, people drive on the left side of the road. Streets can be narrow and without lane markings and signs, and you may even be traveling on bumpy dirt roads and dodging potholes. Be cautious when walking, as vehicles believe they have the right of way over pedestrians. You may experience communication issues and language barriers, and agree or disagree to things without even knowing it. For those on trips with onshore overnight stays, or for those considering pre- or post-voyage travel within the islands, accommodations and eating establishments can be very rustic. Some of the local food is very different. You may be bathing/showering in treated rain water. Air conditioning may not exist. Power outages can occur, and Internet, if even available, can be slow and also subject to outages. Cell phone service can be erratic. If you are having your laundry done, don't be surprised to see it hand-washed in rain water and hung outside to dry. Mosquitos, roosters crowing, donkeys honking, dogs barking, and general commotion may disrupt a good night's sleep. If you are flying or renting a car, be prepared. Airline flights get delayed and even cancelled on short notice and without any apparent reason. Car rental reservations disappear, assuming the agent hasn't closed early just because they had other personal plans. The good news is that it is all tolerable, and after the initial shock, you grow to even appreciate the simplicity and even humor in it all. And the best part is that the people you will encounter are a joy to get to know.