The Caribbean is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination. Probably the most popular island within the Caribbean has to be Barbados. The question “Is Barbados Safe” is not usually asked as the island’s reputation as a safe and relaxing destination is well-deserved. But with this subject matter in mind, let me cover off this topic for you now.
Safety – A Preamble
You might be surprised (or not) to hear about the number of times I’m asked if I ever worry about my personal safety while travelling. The main demographic of those asking me this question are all north of 35 years old. It got me thinking. Why are those over 35 more focussed on returned intact and with all their possessions from a relaxing trip somewhere? Some logical answers immediately sprung to mind:
- The over 35-year group quite often are travelling with children. Safety takes on new meaning when you are not just considering yourself but some precious dependents.
- Generally, the over 35-year group have possessions worth stealing. Perhaps it’s a mark of being more mature but we do like to invest in some nice watches and pieces of jewellery. High-end cameras or golf equipment falls into that catchment too. The 20-year olds usually have the top end phones but their glitzy and bling is not usually of heirloom standards just yet.
- Last, and certainly, not least, I think our own mortality starts to become a focus especially if we are over the 40-year mark. We’ve enough life experience to know that the merry-go-round doesn’t spin forever. At 20 years, danger is more about thrills than the possibility of ending up in the hereafter.
So, with all of this in mind, I’ve decided to write a blog about safety focussing on the issue that people raise with me over and over again. In this way, whatever your age (or preferred mental age), you can swoop into the part of this blog that will really guide you when booking a holiday to the splendid and spectacular island that is Barbados.
Is Barbados Safe?
Barbados is considered safe for travel according to the US State Department. They note to exercise normal precautions and that some areas will have increased risk. Unless your government has issued a warning recommending you avoid a certain destination, you can generally be assured of a safe trip just about anywhere. That is only true, of course, if you play by the rules. By this I mean, the old adage “when in Rome” needs to be applied.
Travelling Safely with Children
Although my nest is empty, I have a lot of visibility into the importance of safety for parents travelling with young children and teenagers.
First of all, if you have little children it’s vital that you have accommodations that are safe and secure for the whole family. You will want the bedrooms where the children sleep to be within close proximity to your own room. A good security system, no exposed balconies at a high level, and doors that can be secured to keep children away from a pool area. The layout and style of a villa will be vital for you when you travel with little ones.
At Exceptional Villas, each of our Barbados Sales Team has first-hand knowledge of every one of the villas and resorts that we represent. Once you describe your group’s age and mobility, we can recommend the ideal properties that will allow you to holiday safely as a family. We also have access to wonderful child-minding staff who can lend you a hand with day to day management of your brood. It’s important that you can relax and enjoy your break knowing everyone is safe and having fun.
Some of the Villas located within Resorts have excellent kids’ clubs where your tots can be entertained by fully-trained staff. Barbados is a magical destination for families – there’s so much to do. The miles and miles of glorious coastline and pretty beaches just invite the active kids and ignite the child-within. Snorkelling, paddle-boarding, swimming, sailing … the endless variety of underwater fishy friends to observe. It really is a beachcomber’s paradise.
As an offshoot of keeping children safe in Barbados, I always recommend visitors be vigilant about using the correct factor sunscreens and slip hats on little children. The glorious sunny conditions really suit so much fun in and around the water it’s important to protect the delicate skin of babies and children. If you are keen on being ecologically minded, there are some great sunscreens that don’t cause damage to sea life and precious coral reef structures. Why not make good choices that not just keep you safe on your holiday but also guarantees the future survival of our amazing natural environment
If you simply love to adorn yourself like a mobile Christmas tree while on vacation, you might want to think twice before dragging your priceless baubles on vacation with you. If you are determined to take everything with you, you will be glad to know that most of the luxury villas in Barbados have very modern and efficient safes. You can lock away your pretty things on arrival and take out what you need as necessary.
If you are staying within a resort, you can enjoy strolling around day and night, decked in your finery without much concern.
Even if you dine away from the Villas at any of the wonderful restaurants that we, at Exceptional Villas, would recommend for you, all should be fine. The issue with taking and wearing very expensive jewellery on vacation usually occurs when guests decide to drift away from the main tourist areas. Like any place on the globe, badly lit, deserted areas are a magnet for the disenchanted. A naïve tourist should always be aware of where he or she is going at all times.
It always comes back to the same headline: wrong place / wrong time. The number of guests who enjoy wonderful evenings out and about on Barbados without incident greatly outweigh the few, unfortunate events that end with theft or robbery.
My number one recommendation with regard to jewellery is to leave it at home. Take a few pieces that you love but preferably nothing that cannot be replaced. I have a married friend who has what she calls her ‘travel jewellery’. This involves a simple gold wedding band and a barrage of costume jewellery. She absolutely loves all of the fun pieces she’s accumulated over the years and these go on holiday with her. If something is lost or damaged by salt-water or a rum cocktail! it isn’t a disaster.
My final note on jewellery is to check with the insurance company who cover your pieces and ensure that your policy isn’t void if you take your pieces out of the country. There’s some sneaky small print on policies that prohibit pieces going on vacation with you!
Physical Safety – how to interact safely when abroad
If there’s one keyword that sums up how to enjoy a safe holiday anywhere it is the word RESPECT. Observe the common laws and social norms of the society that you are joining for your vacation and emulate what you see everyone else doing. Examples, even if it is considered perfectly normal for you to visit a Church (or religious site) back home in a tank top and shorts, it can very often be hugely inappropriate to do so in many countries around the world. Even the more liberal and 21st century Italy likes shoulders and knees covered (plus all the bits in between) in most of its religious buildings. As I said, when in Rome ….
Of course, Barbados is a very relaxed island. It enjoys life in a very unbuttoned-up kind of way. Casual dress is welcomed just about everywhere but there are always exceptions to the rule. Certain clubs, restaurants and buildings do require some level of conservatism or formality in dress and it’s always good to have your homework done in advance.
Sometimes tourists find it irritating that they are obliged to rein in their sartorial casualness while on holiday but do always consider the standards and traditions of the locals. It’s one way to always ensure you can engage, without conflict, with any culture.
For day to day strolling around, choose a mode of dress that matches within reason what you see everyone else around you wearing. Very revealing clothing worn in urban areas can be really out of place. Equally, no one dining in a conservative setting wants to see some topless dude in speedo-esque shorts hoovering up a pizza on the next table. Always take shirts and wraps that can be slipped on and off as necessary to prevent embarrassment not just to yourself but to the locals.
Safety – Food and Drink
I do roll the dice sometimes when I buy food from street carts and casual vendors. My instinct kicks in and I follow the rule: if the seller looks neat and well presented and their cart is tidy, I feel reassured. Also, a big queue of locals waiting at a food stall is a guarantee that the pickings must be good! That’s just common sense.
Fresh fruit smoothies, ice creams, local savoury or sweet pastries are worth trying. Street food has become big business across the globe. The average tourist has become more intrepid when it comes to sampling new dishes.
Generally, though, you won’t be disappointed by the vast array of amazing restaurants in divine locations around Barbados. Every day you can plan to enjoy a heavenly breakfast on your private villa terrace, followed by lunch at some casual restaurant-bar that overlooks the sea. Dinner can be a barefooted barbecue at your villa home or a chic dressed-up night out at one of the gorgeous award-winning restaurants along the coastline. Let Exceptional Villas advise you best on where to visit for a romantic or fun night out.
The M Word
All one needs to see is a lurid headline ‘Tourist murdered ….’ to set pulses and imagination racing. Many ask “How safe is Barbados”, but there is no need to even ask. Barbados is probably one of the safest islands in the Caribbean to visit as a tourist. Any statistic regarding homicide rates in Barbados are invariably a tragic result of disputes between locals and happen in some of the socially challenged districts of the larger urban area.
If you live in any large urban centre in the world, you have as much chance of being caught up in a gun crime incident than you will have while topping up your tan in Barbados. It’s just not something that really happens.
The villas that we represent all have modern security systems in place. Some villas are within gated communities where night watchmen patrol. All of these precautions might create the belief that there are anarchy and chaos waiting outside of your luxury villa walls. That’s just not so. In the same way, that opportunistic robbers will slip into your residence back home through a window inadvertently left open, so too some light-fingered unwanted guests will do the same. Once you follow the simple rules, lock up, switch on an alarm if you have it, you have taken the two vital steps that ensure a good night sleep … with the added bonus of helping your aircon do its job to perfection.
Policing of the Island
Barbados has a well-trained and reliable police force. The Royal Barbados Police Force is considered one of the best organised policing services across the Caribbean. Not surprising really as you can always rely on the efficiency of the British legacy to build good administrative structures.
There is a nice element of leniency shown towards tourists. When you rent a car, you might not always do well if driving on the left is new to you. There may be a few teething issues that the local police show a great deal of patience with. Drinking and driving is of course never something that should be contemplated when in Barbados or anywhere else. Driving a rental vehicle, around unknown streets/districts at night with blunted faculties is a recipe for mischief. Why not book a car and driver who will whisk you and your group around the island?
One of our brilliant recommended drivers can introduce to some lovely quiet beaches, interesting cafes and bars while giving you the inside story on Barbados’s wild history. It’s one of the best investments you can make to have a truly relaxing vacation as well as getting to see all of Barbados, not just the shiny visitor bits.
Tourism is a vital piece of the economic success of Barbados. The islanders understand that a positive and happy tourist experience helps promote and establish Barbados as a welcoming and safe island.
Is it safe to travel to Barbados? In my opinion absolutely yes! Of course, I cannot guarantee that you won’t be conked on the head by a falling coconut as you lounge on a hammock. I guess it’s just one of those risks you’ll have to take!