WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE TOUR
What happens on the FIRST DAY of the tour?
FIRST DAY OF THE TOUR – The official Panama Relocation Tour begins on Saturday at 8:30am at the Crowne Plaza hotel. We will meet with an immigration attorney to discuss your Visa options. The meeting is in the Las Margarita room on the first floor (above the lobby). Please do NOT bring your luggage to the room. The hotel will hold your luggage for you or you can pick it up in your room after the meeting. The meeting will last about one hour then we will board the bus to travel to Cornado/Gorgona where we will meet with expats who live there, see a few rentals, have lunch, check out a store in a shopping center (just in case your forgot something), then travel to El Valle.
After El Valle, we will go to an all-inclusive resort next to the Pacific Ocean where we will spend the night. We have made arrangements for the group to have dinner at 6:30pm in a private dining room.
On The Bus
ON THE BUS – The bus is a comfortable 44 passenger bus with reclining seats and a small refrigerator. We rarely have more than 24 people on the bus so you will have plenty of room to spread out. There is room under the bus for luggage. And there is a narrow overhead compartment for purses or small backpacks. There are two rows on the bus. Jackie will need to keep the front seat behind the driver so they can communicate. There is NO reserved seating on the bus. Everyone will need to take turns sitting on the front seat opposite where Jackie is sitting to make it fair. We will be using a microphone on the bus and there are speakers at every seat so you should be able to hear everything that is being said. Each seat also has temperature controls for your comfort.
Electrical Outlets In Panama
ELECTRICAL OUTLETS – The outlets are the same in Panama that they are in the USA, 110 watts. If you are from the USA or Canada, you will not need an adapter.
HAIR DRYERS – All of the hotels that we stay at during the tour will have either have the hair dryer in the room OR you will need to call room service to bring one to you.
ALCOHOL RULES – No alcoholic beverages are included with your tour. The first night we will be staying at an all-inclusive resort which includes alcoholic beverages but after that you will be responsible for paying for all alcoholic beverages. Our first couple of tours, a few people ordered 5 adult beverages for lunch and dinner plus several of the most expensive bottles of wine on the menu.. that is why we do not include alcohol beverages.
Eating during the tour
We need to know if there is any type of food that you won’t eat! And we also need to know of any of food allergies in advance so please let us know about this right away. Most places in Panama do not have “special” menus for food allergies and we order a lot of meals ahead of time for the group so we don’t waste any time on the tour having 2-3 hour meals.
Please let Melissa know right away of any food allergies that you may have. We do not pay for any alcoholic beverages during the tour. We pay for one entree per person per meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and one beverage per person per meal (like soda, tea, juice, etc). If you want something extra (appetizers, desserts, alcohol, etc) it will be at your own expense.
The first night we stay at an all-inclusive resort on the beach so EVERYTHING (including alcohol) will be included and you won’t have to pay for adult beverages there.
Learning how to speak Spanish during the tour
BASIC Spanish Lessons – Print out this form to bring with you to Panama. If you can’t say the words, you can just point to the words. ( English-Spanish translation). You will learn some common phrases used in Panama… super easy I promise.
Getting cash or using your Credit Card during the tour
GETTING CASH – The Official currency in Panama is the Balboa but Panama uses the US dollar for their paper currency so you will not need to exchange any of your US dollars for Balboas. ATM machines are readily available throughout Panama and they are in English or Spanish. Travelers checks are not accepted anywhere in Panama.
CREDIT CARDS – Master Card and Visa are accepted at most hotels and some restaurants. Other cards are not as widely accepted. Most stores only accept cash. You must call the number on the back of your credit card and notify them that you will be traveling to Panama in order for your card to work.
Cell Phone Use in Panama
WHATSAPP for Smartphones (FREE APP)
If you’re bringing your smartphone with you on the tour, please download the free app called Whatsapp. This is a chatting/texting/messaging app that a lot of people in Panama use. I (Melissa) use it here in the States almost everyday to chat with my mother and our driver Enrique. If you download the app, you will easily be able to message any of us (Melissa, Jackie, our drivers) to let them know of any flight delays, cancellations, questions you may have and also to reconfirm all of your pick ups and/or city tours. I will include instructions on how to set up the Whatsapp in the travel packet that I send out to everyone. You can also use this app where you live with your friends and family.
Skype (FREE APP)
Skype is a great way to communicate with friends and family back home rather than calling or texting them through your smartphone. If you don’t want to use Whatsapp to communicate with friends and family back home, this is a great option to use as well. You can even sign up for a Skype phone number that you can use as a regular phone number to give out to people. This way when they dial the phone number on their phone (not in Skype app) you will be able to receive phone calls to your Skype phone number. Or you can just use it to message friends and family but they must also have the Skype app on their phone or PC/laptop in order to do this.
ADDITIONAL FREE APP
While you are downloading Apps to your phone, get Google Translate. You can talk into your phone in English, then it will translate into Spanish for you. ( written and audio) If someone is talking to you in Spanish and you don’t understand, you can ask them to talk into Google Translate on your phone, then it will translate into English for you. You can even use your camera with Google Translate to translate a menu or written text into English.
Bathroom breaks while traveling during the tour
BATHROOM BREAKS – We make every effort to stop every hour or so for bathroom breaks. But understand that it could be 2 hours between bathroom breaks on the road. While we are traveling from Panama City west to Chiriqui province, there are several areas with no towns or places to go to the bathroom. There is no bathroom on the bus. If you need to “go” just let Jackie know so we can find the closest place to stop.
PHYSICAL DISABILITIES – Panama is in an emerging market and growing leaps and bounds in some areas but still a little rough around the edges in other areas. If you have physical disabilities which prevent you from walking on unlevel sidewalks, sitting on a bus two hours, using stairs, walking two blocks, or any other special needs, there is a good chance that this tour and Panama will not be comfortable for you. We make every effort to make the tour as comfortable as possible for everyone but we are not usually able to accommodate special needs or physical disabilities. Please let us know if you have any physical disabilities.
Getting Laundry Done
GETTING LAUNDRY DONE – All of the hotels where you will stay during the tour, and in Panama City, offer laundry service. If possible, we recommend that you wait until we get to Boquete on Monday to get your laundry done. They will give you a large trash bag to put your dirty laundry in. Then they will wash, dry, fold and bring back to your room for about $5.50 for the whole bag. The suggest that you wait until we arrive in Boquete because we will be at the same hotel for 3 nights. At the other hotels, we are only there one night and your laundry may not be ready by 9am when the bus pulls out.
Hotel and Flight Changes
HOTEL AND FLIGHT CHANGES – In most cases, Melissa has assisted you with making hotel arrangements after the tour. If you choose to move to a different hotel after the tour you MUST notify us because we have arranged transportation to pick you up at the hotel we arranged. We pay for our driver to pick you up in Boquete and take you to the David airport. We give our driver the date, time and location of where you will be picked up. If you change your location without notifying us or change the time that you need to be at the airport without notifying us you will be responsible for the cost associated with no shows that our driver will charge you. We need to be notified at least 24 hours in advance if you make any hotel changes or transportation pick ups in order to avoid being charged for the no show fee. We will be charging your credit card on file if this occurs.
ITINERARY CHANGES – The itinerary posted at www.PanamaRelocationTours.com is the schedule we try to keep. But sometimes there are conflicting schedules or weather conditions which make it necessary for us to make changes to the itinerary. The itinerary is subject to change. If there are specific areas you’d like to see, please let us know so we can attempt to arrange the schedule to tour those areas and meet expats there.
Room Changes and Room OPTION at the Oasis in Boquete
ROOM CHANGES – Room changes at hotels cannot be made without an authorization from Panama Relocation Tours. If you decide to upgrade to a more expensive room, you will be responsible for the charge. We strive to keep all the rooms the same but it is not always possible at hotels in Panama.
ROOM OPTION in Boquete at the OASIS hotel – We will stay at the Oasis Hotel in Boquete during the last 3 nights of the tour. We will do day trips from there. We pay for standard rooms during the tour. The Oasis does have 3 suites available. If anyone would like to have a suite instead of a standard room, they are available on 1st come 1st served basis for an additional fee of $50 a night x 3 nights ($150 extra) for a queen size bed or $100 a night x 3 nights ($300 extra) for a king size bed.
You can see photos of the standard rooms and Suites at http://www.oasisboquete.com/accommodations.htm
All of the Suites are on the second floor and you must walk up stairs to get there. They do not have an elevator.
See this video I took for a previous client that was interested in a Suite. These are the stairs that you will need to walk up for ALL of the suites as well as INSIDE of the suites as well. I was staying in Suite No 6 when I took this video. There are also stairs INSIDE of the suites as well that you have to walk up in order to get to the bed.
Let us know asap if you’d like to have a suite. We can charge your credit card for the additional charge.
BOQUETE TRANSPORTATION – We have paid in advance for our driver to take you from your hotel in Boquete to the airport in David. If you change your Copa Airline or Air Panama flight, you need to let us know at least 24 hours in advance so we can change the scheduled pick up. If you do not show up, you will be responsible for the $30 per person fee which we have to pay for a “no show”. Our driver will pick you up 2 hours before your scheduled departure time for the David airport. For example, if your Copa Airline flight departs out of David at 9:30am then our driver will pick you up in Boquete at 7:30am. You must be on time for this pick up! Melissa will arrange the pick ups for you in advance.
Extra Transportation Costs
EXTRA TRANSPORTATION COSTS –
We pay $30 for your transportation from Tocumen to Crowne Plaza. If you want to go to a different hotel and there is an extra charge, you will be responsible for any charge over the $30 fee.
We pay $30/couple for transportation from Boquete to David. Anything over $30 from Boquete to the David airport, you will be responsible for the extra cost. Examples – Boquete to Las Olas is $60 so you will pay for the extra $30.
Once you get back to Tocumen International Airport or Albrook airport in Panama City, you will be responsible for all transportation costs. We can make arrangements for our driver to pick you up, but you will need to pay the driver in cash. He does not take credit cards.
Panama Relocation Tours Relocation Guide book
THE PRT GUIDE BOOK – To make it easy for you to enjoy the beautiful Panama scenery and listen to the information during the tour, we will provide each person with a book which has everything we will discuss already written down. Then you won’t need to take notes. We do not allow recording during the tour. The book is for tour guests only.