There’s so much to do and see while you’re in the Dominican Republic —and also a few things you’ll need to get ready for before you go! Prepare for your adventure with BBYO Passport by reading this helpful guide below —and start getting excited for the incredible adventure that awaits!
We hope you will take the time to review this document in its entirety.
Please ensure that you have:
- Arranged travel to/from the departure airport or the pre-approved meeting point and submitted your travel plans to us.
- Added a supervised hotel stay-over for the outbound and/or inbound flights if necessary by contacting the office via email to make the request.
- Uploaded a copy of your passport and ensured that it is valid for at least six months after our return date.
- Signed up friends and family to receive updates during your trip (parents will automatically receive the updates).
- Added a travel insurance policy (optional).
- Arranged for a local SIM or phone (optional) rental.
- Joined the program Facebook group – for teen participants only.
- “Liked” BBYO Passport on Facebook – this is where we’ll post photo albums over the summer.
- Reviewed the Program Rules & Expectations together as a family.
- Reviewed the packing advice in this document.
- Reviewed Stand UP Dominican Republic FAQs and General FAQs.
- Made a plan for accessing spending money during the program.
- Submitted all forms to your account: Physical Medical, Passport Information, Health History Questionnaire, Parent Waiver and Release of Liability, Teen Waiver and Release of Liability.
CONNECTING TWO SUMMER EXPERIENCES?
You will receive a separate guide for each program along with details on how the connection works.
While the Dominican Republic might be best known as a popular vacation destination, it was also a safe haven for the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition and World War II. The Dominican Republic has a rich Jewish history which remains part of its mainstream culture to this very day. We will partner with the DREAM Project, a U.S. based not-for-profit organization focused on early childhood education. We will be working in the community while learning about local history and culture.
Each group forms its own traveling community and the size of each group varies by program date. We will release more details approximately 3-4 weeks prior to our departure. In the meantime, we encourage you to sign-up for your program-specific Facebook group (teens only). It is a great way to connect with fellow travelers before the program and beyond.
Please note: not all teens will join the Facebook group before the trip; the Facebook group will not be a good representation of the number of teens on your program. Don't be afraid to start the conversation by introducing yourself to everyone!
The projected itinerary is announced 3-4 weeks prior to departure. Please note that even the confirmed itinerary will be subject to change on the ground. We will do our best to notify parents and teens in advance if necessary.
Standard accommodations are based on 2-4 teens per room with the same amount of sleeping accommodations. Every time we move to a new overnight location, we will rotate rooming assignments to provide a better opportunity for our teens to get to know one another and promote group bonding.
Joining your program’s Facebook group is a great way to “meet” other teens before the trip starts!
KASHRUT & DIETARY NEEDS
All meals provided on the program including those aboard the flights are Kosher. Teens with special dietary situations should make sure their medical dietary restrictions are reflected in their account information.
If possible, our group will make a stop at a grocery or convenience store. We recommend that teens pick up snacks and food for later on in the program. When traveling you may encounter new foods and not all may be to your liking. We ask teens to be flexible and have snacks and alternatives on hand just in case.
Shabbat is a special time and can be an amazing opportunity for rest and reflection. Friday nights and Saturdays will include prayer, informal discussions, and various Shabbat programming. When possible, we try to include visits to local synagogues to give teens a taste of how Judaism is observed locally. Often times our best or only option is a traditional Orthodox service. Even if this is not part of your tradition, it is an opportunity for a rich cultural experience that can be meaningful too. We strive to provide a number of alternative options for celebrating Shabbat, and teens are encouraged to take a leadership role in how the experience is shared with the group.
As a program, we do not drive on Shabbat and we do not oblige or encourage teens to break the rules of Shabbat which we observe. We do however require that teens carry items on Shabbat such as water bottles. At the same time, what teens do during non-programmed time on Shabbat is their own personal decision. We only ask that everyone be mindful and considerate of each other’s practices.
Rules & Expectations
Program Rules & Expectations
BBYO is a teen leadership organization, and as such, we place great trust and responsibility on our teens. By agreeing to participate in the program, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our Release Form and the BBYO Code of Conduct. We encourage you to review these conduct guidelines as a family before the start of the program:
For the sake of creating a safe and successful program experience, BBYO Passport has established a series of rules and disciplinary guidelines. Each disciplinary situation is evaluated individually, but as a general rule, infractions related to physical violence, drugs/controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, and leaving the group without authorization are grounds for removal from the program. A single infraction may result in immediate separation from the group. BBYO Passport staff reserves the right to make these decisions, and there may also be further consequences for BBYO members within their local regions after returning to North America.
In the event of program dismissal, the parents of the dismissed teen will be solely responsible for all associated fees, including the cost of special transportation to the airport, a flight chaperone if necessary, or an airline change fee. No portion of the program fee will be refunded, and any scholarship funds awarded will need to be reimbursed in full to BBYO or the issuing agency. Given the international nature of the program, the consequences of dismissal are extremely serious, costly, and disruptive to the rest of the group.
Cause for Removal
It is our sincere hope that no one will need to be expelled from a BBYO Passport program, and accordingly, we encourage parents and teens to discuss this matter carefully together before the start of the program.
All behavioral matters will be dealt with on the program through a series of steps. These steps may include a staff-teen conversation, a formal warning, loss of free time or other privileges, program probation, and ultimately dismissal. Again, BBYO Passport staff reserves the sole right to make decisions related to behavioral misconduct and disciplinary consequences. Any specific questions related to disciplinary rules and regulations should be directed to BBYO Passport’s Executive Director, Aaron Robbin.
Curfew & Rooming
To fully appreciate the program, a good night’s sleep is essential. A curfew will be enforced at the discretion of program staff. Teens are expected to abide by these curfew rules. Hotel rooms are assigned on a single-gender basis. Teens are not allowed to be in any other room other than the room they are assigned to without permission from the staff at any time during the program.
Drugs & Alcohol
Possession, consumption, and/or the purchase of drugs and/or alcohol will not be tolerated on any BBYO Passport program and may result in immediate dismissal. Additionally, sharing, selling or otherwise dispensing prescription medication is not tolerated and may result in immediate dismissal. Moreover, it is the policy of BBYO Passport to allow the police and justice departments of the respective countries visited to prosecute when infractions have occurred without intervention by BBYO Passport
BBYO Passport staff reserves the right to administer a breathalyzer test and/or search any teen’s belongings and/or room at any time and for any reason during the course of the program.
Leaving the Program without Authorization
As part of our general approach to safety and security, teens on all BBYO Passport programs are not allowed to leave the supervision of the program at any time. There will be occasions for limited free time in specific areas that are deemed secure by program staff. However, the general rule is that there is no leaving the program at any time and for any reason whatsoever during the day or at night. Leaving the program without specific staff authorization is grounds for immediate dismissal.
Timeliness & Cooperation with Program Staff
Behind the scenes of each BBYO Passport program is a complicated logistical plan which requires us to keep to an exact schedule. Staying on schedule requires the cooperation of every teen. It means waking up in the morning on time, not wandering from the group, and respecting the overall schedule of the program. The consequence of being late is that elements of the program will be canceled. We need every teen’s cooperation to ensure that the program to be fully experienced.
We believe in the unique power of a group experience as opposed to a collection of individual experiences. As a member of a traveling community, each teen has a responsibility to treat his/her fellow teens with respect and decency. We aim to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone on the program is made to feel welcomed and comfortable; each teen plays a role in making this possible. These same principles apply to virtual and social platforms before, during, and after the program.
The purchase or possession of a weapon or an item that may be construed as a weapon is not allowed during the program, and any such items will be confiscated.
Mobile Device Use
Cell phone use is a privilege, not a right. Use of communication devices during scheduled program time is not permitted. During other times, teens must exercise discretion when using the phones (i.e. respect sleeping roommates, etc.). If necessary, program staff reserves the right to suspend or even terminate a cell phone rental if these privileges are abused.
Respect for Property
It is expected that teens will behave responsibly and with respect regarding belongings and property throughout the program. Should property be damaged or defaced by a fellow teen, those responsible will be held accountable for payment of damages. Please note: there is a fee at many hotels for lost room keys.
Tattooing & Piercing
Such activities during the program are forbidden and may result in disciplinary action or dismissal from the program. Tattooing and piercings can be unsafe in foreign countries and any resulting medical complications would not be covered under the program’s medical insurance policy. Teens will be required to remove any piercings that they acquire during the program.
Tobacco & Marijuana
The purchase or possession of tobacco and marijuana products is not allowed, regardless of age. Additionally, purchasing or possessing smoking paraphernalia is forbidden. This policy includes, but is not limited to, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and water pipes.
Safety & Wellbeing
Safety & Wellbeing
Dehydration, heat stroke, and sunburn are serious concerns. These are some common-sense rules we employ whenever we go on hikes or whenever we will be outdoors for an extended period of time:
- Wear a hat
- No tank tops
- Use sunscreen
- Carry at least two liters of water
Teen Tip: Make sure you pack enough t-shirts; tank tops will NOT be allowed during the daytime. You will be asked to purchase more if you did not bring enough!
Teens are responsible for carrying and self-administering their own medication. With the exception of over-the-counter treatments, our staff is not allowed to hold or administer prescribed medication, with the exception of an Epipen, and cannot be responsible for ensuring that prescribed medication is taken. If you have special requests (i.e. refrigeration requirements), please note them on your health forms. Teens are never allowed to share or dispense prescribed medication. Some medications must be taken at the same time every day. Please take into account the time difference and consult your doctor if necessary.
See our “packing for the trip” section for tips when traveling with medication.
For the regions of The Dominican Republic where we travel, there is no requirement for special vaccinations or immunizations.
Proper hydration is essential during a program of this nature. You should be drinking at least two liters of water per day. You can expect that the staff will constantly be reminding you to drink, drink, drink! Ultimately, you must be responsible for this task.
As a program, we take a number of precautions to reduce security risks. We also ask our teens to follow some basic security-related guidance as follows:
- Be aware of suspicious objects. Be aware not to leave behind personal items that may be confused with a suspicious object.
- Stay together as a group. This is a supervised program, and we depend on our teens to stay together as a group at all times.
- Follow staff instructions. We travel with licensed guides who are trained in security procedures, and we depend on everyone following staff instructions.
- Pickpocket alert. Pickpocketing is a relatively common occurrence in large metropolitan areas, and we recommend protecting your valuables at all times when we are in public.
- Avoid mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are a common summertime annoyance that can spread a number of viruses. Be sure to pack mosquito repellant, and we recommend consulting the Centers for Disease Control for additional tips
Our emergency phone number is 202-643-2296 and is handled by one of our team members. A BBYO staff member in North America will be answering emergency calls 24-hours a day. Please only use the emergency phone number when there is an emergency as described below:
- Family health emergencies
- Urgent medical or safety situation
- Concerns about fatigue or social adjustment
- Requests for flight extensions
- Requests to be featured in photos
- General security concerns (email updates will be sent in such scenarios)
Please check today to make sure that you know the location of where your passport is, that it is not expired, or is about to expire. To review information about ordering or renewing your passport visit the U.S. Department of State- Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
- Plan to carry a photocopy of your passport during the program. Though BBYO Passport staff will hold onto your passport for safekeeping on the road, we recommend bringing a passport copy to place in your wallet, backpack, and suitcase at all times as a back-up form of identification.
- Check that the name you used to register for the program matches your passport. If you registered with a nickname, your ticket will be printed accordingly, and you may be denied boarding. Contact us to make any corrections as soon as possible, a name change fee may apply.
Details about the group flight and how to meet at the airport are announced by the end of April and emailed to you. Contact us if you need assistance accessing the document. All tickets are issued electronically and staff will have a copy of your e-ticket (electronic ticket) at the airport.
AIRLINE SEATING & POINTS
- Seating is pre-assigned by the airline on our group flights. Special requests can be made at check-in, but not ahead of departure.
- If desired, teens are responsible for obtaining reward points via the airline using the ticket information obtained at check-in. Please provide the agent at the counter with your appropriate information upon check to receive your reward points, or you may call the airline at a later time to obtain reward points.
Check with your specific airline for the most updated terms, however, the following are the basic luggage rules for transatlantic group flights:
- Checked Luggage: One bag of no more than 50 pounds and no more than 30 inches long
- Carry-on Luggage: One carry-on backpack
When deciding what kind of luggage to bring, keep in mind you will need to load your luggage on/off the bus and to/from our accommodations; try to keep it manageable. Be sure to bring luggage on wheels (we suggest a rolling duffel). Before packing, please review updated restrictions on the TSA website.
MEETING AT THE AIRPORT
Plan to meet the group in the check-in area of our departure terminal four hours in advance of the group flight. If you are taking a domestic flight to meet the group, please make sure it lands at least five hours before our departure. Starting at six hours prior to departure, our team will be wearing staff t-shirts and will greet teens as they arrive at our meeting location. The BBYO Passport t-shirt that you will receive before the program should be worn on departure day.
We recommend that teens arrive at the airport with their personal cell phone and a portable charger in case they need to contact a member of our team. Please be sure that teens cell phone number is listed in your registration account.
When making your travel arrangements, we recommend that you consider ground travel to our departure airport as this greatly reduces the chances of flight delays. If you are traveling to the gateway airport on a connecting flight, we recommend arriving a day in advance of our international departure. An optional supervised airport hotel stay-over may be available for this purpose (see below). If you arrive on the day of departure, please allow plenty of time to spare.
Each airline has its own rules for mandatory "unaccompanied minors," and additional fees do apply. If your teen is 15 years or younger, then please refer to your chosen airline for information and contact us well in advance (2-3 weeks) if special arrangements need to be made with our staff.
SUPERVISED AIRPORT HOTEL STAY-OVERS
Optional supervised hotel stay-overs may be available on the night before your group’s departure and the night of your group’s return, if requested in advance. The cost of the supervised hotel stay-over is $200 per person which includes dinner and breakfast. Exact hotel arrangements and meeting instructions will be available at a later date. During the hotel stayover, teens are not permitted to leave the hotel for any reason without making prior arrangements with our staff. Sign-up for the supervised hotel stay-over by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited, and we may not be able to fulfill requests within a month of departure.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE DELAYED
If you are delayed on departure day and will not meet the group on time, please send an email to email@example.com. If possible, we will re-schedule you on the next available flight. However, please keep in mind that there is no guarantee that we will be able to do so, and you will likely be traveling without staff. Additional fees may apply.
Parent Tip: The optional group travel insurance policy includes coverage for missed connections and travel delays. It is a great value and protects your teens travel. We recommend that every parent purchase it for their child. For more information on group travel insurance, review our insurance page.
On arrival, we proceed to passport control (customs) and then meet at baggage claim. In baggage claim, there will be time for restroom breaks, but do not wander beyond baggage claim without staff.
We typically clear customs and baggage claim within 60-90 minutes of arrival. If scheduling a connecting flight home, allow for a window of at least three hours between flights within the same airport. Our staff will be on hand to escort teens through baggage claim and direct them to their connecting flights as requested, but our staff will not be available to escort teens to connecting flight terminals. While we will do our best to assist with any connecting flight delays, we cannot commit to having staff at the airport for more than three hours after the group's return.
The accommodations, all meals, in-country transportation, basic health insurance (excluding pre-existing conditions), and all program activities are covered by the core program fees. The only spending that is your responsibility will be snacks, bottled water, souvenirs, gifts, etc. We estimate that $100-$150/week is sufficient.
HOW TO BRING MONEY ABROAD
There are a number of ways to bring money abroad. Please read this section carefully, and keep in mind that BBYO Passport will be unable to facilitate money transfers to teens during the program, please plan accordingly.
ATM / Credit Cards
If you choose to use your personal ATM card or credit card, we would ask that you be aware of
- IDs are frequently checked when making credit/debit card purchases, we recommend only bringing a credit/debit card issued in the name of the teen.
- If your ATM card has a Visa, MasterCard, Star, Cirrus, or Maestro logo imprint, you should have no difficulty withdrawing money while abroad. Other ATM network cards may work, but we encourage you to check with your local bank prior to travel.
- Some teens have experienced difficulty withdrawing money from savings accounts. We recommend that ATM cards be linked to checking accounts.
- Please do not send your child with prepaid gift/credit cards as they will likely not be accepted abroad.
- Most merchants abroad will only accept EMV-enabled cards (i.e. smart chip cards).
- AmEx and Discover cards are not widely accepted and are not recommended.
- We will not have access to ATMs on a daily basis, so please plan accordingly.
- Inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid a security hold on your account.
Check with your bank before travel to find out service fee charges when using ATMs and credit cards internationally.
Parent Tip: Remind your child to keep their money and credit cards in safe places. For example, your teen loses their wallet containing all their credit cards and cash, BBYO will not be able to transfer spending money to them.
Many locations in the Dominican Republic accept US dollars, but this should not be an expectation. If you plan to bring cash, we will arrange to have it exchanged in Cabarete, which offers better rates than at the airport. Some of our hotels may charge a fee for using credit cards ranging from 16% - 26%, so it is a good idea to bring cash to avoid these fees when possible.
ABOUT LOCAL CURRENCIES
The local currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso, and each US dollar is worth about 49 Pesos (1000 Pesos ~ $20.00 USD). You will find that goods in the Dominican Republic can cost about 20% less than they typically cost in North America.
MEDICAL & TRAVEL INSURANCE
MEDICAL INSURANCE DURING THE PROGRAM
BBYO Passport program fees include basic medical insurance that covers treatment and medication; however, it will not cover any pre-existing medical conditions. This means that the policy covers treatment for issues such as a stomach bug, broken limb, or dehydration, without any out-of-pocket expenses or paperwork. The policy does not cover any medical conditions for which a teen is already being treated for or treatment that has been received in the past. This exclusion rule also applies to all psychological care. For this reason, teens are required to come on the program with their own medical insurance policy, which includes coverage for short-term travel abroad. In the event that a teen needs to be treated for a pre-existing condition during the program, the parents of the teen will be solely responsible for any associated costs.
Review a summary of our medical insurance terms.
All teens are encouraged to sign-up for a travel insurance policy to protect their investment and plan for the unexpected. We have partnered with Travel Insured International to provide a discounted group travel insurance option. The cost of the travel insurance policy is based on the total cost of the program and other domestic travel expenses. Plan coverage information is available through our general resources- insurance webpage. Insurance can be purchased in your registration account. Policies may be purchased up until the date you make full payment for the program.
The Dominican Republic is a tropical country and the weather varies greatly from region to region. In the highland areas expect cooler weather in the 50’s to 70’s. Along the lowland coast, the weather is typically in the 80’s or even 90’s during the day. Finally, June and July fall within the Dominican Republic’s rainy season. What this means is that rain is common, although it is often brief in the late afternoon or evening. Plan to bring a light and effective rain coat and shoes that can get wet and muddy.
Weather can vary, so please check the forecast prior to departure.
When deciding what kind of luggage to bring, bear in mind you will need to load your luggage on/off the bus and to/from our accommodations. So, please try to keep it manageable, and be sure to bring luggage on wheels (we suggest a rolling duffel). Before packing, please review updated restrictions on the TSA website.
- Bring only one piece of checked luggage and a light backpack for daily use.
- Bring at least one change of clothes, toiletries, and any prescription medicine in your carry-on bag in the unlikely event that your checked luggage gets delayed.
Pack Appropriately for Work Site
When working in the schools, shorts must be mid-thigh length or longer and tank tops are not permitted. Please pack accordingly. We recommend quick-dry t-shirts or long-sleeved shirts, shorts, capris or full length (breathable and quick-dry) pants.
We will be doing a lot of walking, and having comfortable shoes is important! Flip flops will not be allowed when we are on the move, and while athletic sandals like Tevas or Chacos are a good option, they are not appropriate for days when we have hikes/nature walks. Keep in mind that because it is the rainy season your walking shoes will likely get wet and muddy.
Pack Appropriately for Shabbat
To create a special atmosphere for Shabbat, it is tradition to wear clothing on Friday night and Saturday during the day that is nicer than what we wear the rest of the week. We typically attend Shabbat services on Friday night in a local synagogue – which is likely Orthodox. Plan to wear more modest/formal clothing. Jeans, t-shirts and shorter skirts are not appropriate. Again, shoulders and knees for both boys and girls must be covered.
SAMPLE PACKING LIST
Please use this packing list as a guideline.
What We Recommend
- 10 t-shirts (no tank tops)
- 5 pairs of shorts
- 2 pairs of jeans or khakis
- 12 pairs of underwear & socks
- 1 windbreaker or lightweight sweater
- 1-2 bathing suits
- 2-3 pajamas
- 1 beach towel
- 2 Shabbat/nicer outfits (Jeans, t-shirts and short skirts are not appropriate)
- Sturdy walking shoes (closed toed)
- 1 pair of beach sandals/ flip flops
- 1-2 hats for protection from the sun
- Raincoat and/or umbrella
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Soap, shampoo, razor, deodorant, etc
- Contact lens case, solution, and spare contact lenses
- Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
- Bug spray
- Passport and photocopy of passport (must be valid for at least six months after our return date)
- Light Backpack
- Portable Charger
- Copy of prescriptions in case medicine is lost
- Water Bottle
- Kippah for Shabbat if it is your custom
- Medication (recommended to be packed in your carry-on)
- Various sized Ziploc bags for holding valuables on water hikes & wet clothing
- Work gloves
- Stain remover/small Woolite bottle
- Travel Journal
- Frisbees, cards, etc.
What We Do NOT Recommend
- Linens, pillows or sleeping bag
- Luggage that is not easily carried
- Expensive jewelry or other valuables
- Heavy backpack or hiking boots
- Laptops or expensive electronics
While BBYO staff may have over the counter medicine (i.e. cough drops, Tylenol, Band-Aids, etc.), it will be limited and teens are expected to have their own supply on the program.
- Pack a change of clothes, toiletries, contact lenses and prescription medication in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage is delayed in transit.
- You will receive two BBYO Passport luggage tags along with a program t-shirt in advance. Fill out the luggage tags and affix them to your carry-on and checked luggage for identification purposes.
Theft is not uncommon in any place where a large number of tourists congregate, and there have been instances in the past. Accordingly, we encourage you to leave valuable items at home and to carefully keep track of anything valuable that you do bring on the program. As a general rule, hotel rooms should always remain locked. However, even a locked hotel room should not be considered a secure area unless a safe with a lock is available. If you bring a lock for your suitcase, locking it in the room is an option. If it is possible to bring a locking suitcase, we recommend it, although it is not a solution by itself. Teen property is the sole responsibility of the teen. Please do NOT bring cell phones, MP3 players, video games, portable internet devices, or laptops to the worksite.
While laundry is not provided in the Dominican Republic, some hotels provide a laundry service, and teens may wish to take advantage of this service at their own expense. Bringing a large size ziplock bag is a good solution for storing dirty clothes in between laundry.
NOTE: A laundry service will be provided for teens connecting two BBYO Passport summer experiences.
MEDICATION AND CONTACT LENSES
If you are taking prescription medication, bring enough for the duration of the program as well as an extra written prescription record in case you misplace or lose your medicine. Take all medication (OTC and prescription) on the plane with you in your carry-on luggage. Do NOT pack any medication with your checked baggage. The same applies to contact lenses. Please review TSA restrictions on traveling with medication and liquids.
If you are musically inclined and willing to bring your instrument, please feel free to do so! There will be plenty of occasions to showcase your skills. Remember that as with any other valuable item, bringing an instrument on the program is done at your own risk of loss or damage.
KEEPING FRIENDS & FAMILY UPDATED DURING THE PROGRAM
Parents of teens will automatically receive email notifications including updates from the road and a link to new pictures posted from the group. Additionally, friends and family will be able to sign-up to receive these same updates by filling out a short online form.
USING YOUR CELL PHONE
Prior to using your cell phone abroad, please contact your cell phone provider to understand the costs associated with international roaming.
HOW AND WHEN TO CALL
For parents and friends who wish to contact a teen during the program, keep in mind that Israel is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time. Please also remember that the use of communication devices during scheduled program time will not be permitted.
EMAIL & INTERNET ACCESS
Some of the hotels that we stay at will have internet stations and/or Wi-Fi available which teens are welcome to use during free time, usually for an additional fee. We strongly suggest that you do not bring a laptop on the program or any other expensive communication devices as the risk of theft or damage is very high.