Since we have traveled quite a bit since 9/11 (including the weekend right after! See our pictures of the return to the US on 9/15 here) I thought the following might be helpful.
What Not To Do:
Do not take any packages from anyone you do not know.
Do not take any gifts already gift wrapped. Take the gift wrap with you and wrap it when you get there.
Do not lock your luggage with metal locks - I hate this but they will and do cut the locks off to inspect luggage contents. You will know that your luggage has been checked when you find a plastic strap locking your luggage zippers together. *See locking tip below.*
Do not attempt to take any form of knife, razor blades, metal knitting needles, scissors, tweezers, nail cutters, spray mace or pepper spray, guns or any other potential weapon on board the airplane in your carry-on luggage. * Put allowed items in your checked baggage only!*
Do not ever leave your luggage unattended even for a moment. If someone discovers unattended bags and reports it, the airport is liable to be closed down until the luggage has been checked by a bomb squad. If they figure out whose luggage it is that person is subject to arrest. This is even more true and extremely serious in foreign countries than in the USA.
What to Do:
NEW last Year: Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens (Americans and Canadians), should be in possession of a valid passport and a valid return ticket. All other travelers, including those from Britain and other Commonwealth countries, must present a valid passport and ongoing ticket to access Barbados island.
Visitors coming to Barbados should provide proof of adequate means of support for the duration of their stay to the satisfaction of the Immigration officer at the port of entry. They should be in possession of valid return tickets.
Visas are required for citizens from the following countries:
Bosnia - Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire)
People's Republic of Laos
Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Sao Tome & Principe
United Arab Emirates
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen
Yemen Arab Republic
Label your bag both inside and out with your name, destination and phone number. If your luggage is delayed it will make it much easier for them to find you for delivery. Put some type of identifying mark on the outside of your bag that you will recognize as yours - a brightly colored strap, a distinctive ribbon on the handles.
Get some plastic locking straps (available at Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) and tie your zippers together with them. Put an inexpensive folding scissor in an unlocked outer pocket of your checked baggage to cut them with. This allows the airlines to check your bags which they will then "relock" without you having the expense of a cut lock. Take extra locking tabs with you to lock as you travel.
Call your airline 24 to 48 hours in advance of your departure. Ask specifically what time you should arrive prior to your flight. This can vary from 1 hour to 3 or even 4 hours ahead of time depending on the airport and the destination. Ask specifically for each airport and every time you fly as it changes all the time. Believe them! You may breeze right through but it may take you every moment of the recommended time.
If you take your laptop with you it will be opened for inspection.
Do take all of your medications, important papers, irreplaceables, jewelry, basic cosmetic needs and at least one change of clothing (including change of undies and nightie. I usually pack a bathing suit, too) in your carryon baggage in case of lost or delayed luggage, especially on your outbound trip (going home they are easier to replace). Need a special outfit for an affair on your arrival - put it in your carryon!
Be aware of what you wear on the plane - comfort and security. Before you get to the security point remove your belt and put it in your carryon. Use the plastic trays to put your loose things in - i.e. shoes, pocket contents, purses, coats, cameras, cell phones. Be prepared, you must remove your shoes (hint, hint - don't wear boots that have a lot of lacing involved and don't wear holey socks unless you don't care! Slipons are easiest) Even if you are not asked to take off your shoes - do it - many more shoes than you realize have a metal shank in them which sets off the sensor every time. Do not have anything in your pockets before you go through the sensors. If you are wearing a jacket you must remove it and put it through the x-ray machine along with everything else you carry. Put your purse through last so that it has the least amount of time out of your hands. Any metal (jewelry is OK) can potentially set off the sensors which vary in sensitivity from location to location (what makes it go off at point A won't at point B). If you set off the sensors you will be hand searched and will not be allowed to touch anything you have put on the x-ray conveyor before they are finished with you. This is not the most pleasant experience but it is not the end of the world. It can vary from them taking your shoes and putting them through the x-ray again and then wanding you with a sensor to a full body search by a female for a female and a male for a male. If you are body searched they will check around your breasts and between your legs. Security will randomly search carryons even if you don't set off the sensors.
Do keep your ticket and a photo ID for anyone over 17 years old [your passport and visa if traveling abroad] very accessible. A pocket holder around your neck can be handy for this purpose. You will have to show them at check-in, at security and sometimes again on boarding at the gate. It holds everyone up if you have to dig for it every time.
It sometimes happens that even after you have passed through security, there will be another random security check. It can involve security personnel taking you to your checked baggage while they go through it; it can be a thorough physical search of your carryons and or a body search.
More and more airlines are not serving food or are charging hefty prices ($7-$10 each, which adds up quickly for a family especially for connecting flights), in cash only, for a meal. You may want to bring food on board with you which does not count as one of your 2 allowable carryon bags. I have found it easier to pack a meal from home for the departing trip and purchase on the return.
Relax, have fun, try not to be too irritated with security procedures, it is for our safety. If you have a drink and go through security with it you might have to take off the lid and drink some. Don't be intimidated - be prepared! If you do your best in advance to meet the criteria it shouldn't be much of a problem.
While on the plane, you will be given immigration forms to fill out. These will be presented when you arrive at Grantley Adams airport (BGI) in Barbados. One form asks where you will be staying.
Make sure your landing card has been completed correctly - and remember that if you do not have an address listed, of where you are staying on the island, you will not be allowed through!
The airport is very busy and very hot! So change into something cool on the plane before you land. Don't even consider wearing jeans or tying a sweater around your waist. Parents with young children will usually be allowed to go through "Fast Track". Keep a look out for officials and if you aren't automatically shown the way then ask politely if there is any way you can avoid the busy line with your infants. Have a drink and something for children to play with when waiting for bags if possible. It's often a long wait. Don't forget pushchairs!
When you go through to collect bags, porters will offer to help you - unless you really do only have light bags then make use of them. There are no trolleys available for you to use yourselves. Tip them about US$1.50/2 per bag (SO HAVE SMALL BILLS AVAILABLE!) They will also help you get a taxi. If you aren't sure how much you will need to pay the taxi driver then ASK before you leave. These are set fares but as with anywhere in the world some drivers may try to take advantage of visitors lacking local knowledge. Agree the price before you leave. Tipping is up to you but around 10% will suffice if the taxi driver was friendly and helpful.
After clearing the airport and retrieving your luggage, go out of the airport. If you are staying with Tom and Mary, one (or both!) of them will be there to pick you up and take you to The Crane. If you're on your own and have rented a car, you can pick it up at the front of the airport. Someone from the car company should have a sign with your name on it. If you're taking a taxi, they're very plentiful.
When you leave, you will be asked to pay a departure tax, currently about $15 US a person. At your first stop back in the US, you will have to gather all your luggage from the plane, clear customs, and get the luggage to your connecting flight. Airport personnel are there to help you with this.