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St Martin Travel/Airfare
St Maarten Travel/Airfare

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Airport landings

In case you were wondering, the airport in St Maarten is Princess Juliana International and the code is SXM. Use SMX instead and you end up in Santa Monica. There is a small airport on the French side in Grand Case called L'Esperance, but the runway, and the flights, are rather short. American Airlines has the most flights from the US to SXM and their prices reflect the lock they have on the market. USAir (from Charlotte and Philadelphia) and Continental (from Newark) also have flights. Spirit Air started with a bang, but is now a whimper having cut back on flights significantly in early 2008. Jet Blue is also trying their luck in this market.

Of course, KLM flies here from Amsterdam. If they put enough jet fuel on the plane to get back to Holland, it will end up in the lagoon as the runway is a bit short, so they continue south to Curaçao and refuel before returning to Holland. Air France comes over from Paris and these two large jets are spectacular to watch from Maho Beach as they land. That's Air France coming in above, right.

Travel Tips - Before you go:
Passports: You need them. Check their expiration. No vaccinations are required, as there are no weird tropical diseases here for which there are immunizations. Chikungunya and Dengué fever, caused by mosquito bites, are a possibility but there is no immunization available. In rainy season you might want to bring mosquito repellant.

Drugs: If you take legal drugs, make sure you have enough for the duration of your vacation. We do have highly educated, competent pharmacists on both sides of the island, but they may not have what you were prescribed.

Timing: High season runs from 15 December until 15 April, supposedly. You can probably get pretty good deals nibbling at the edge of those dates and accommodations and rental cars generally post lower fares outside those dates. Saturday (especially) and Sunday are crowded because of timeshare turnovers. We avoid those days and if the airlines have any flights on the other days, they are generally cheaper and less crowded.

SkyMed Travel Insurance takes you home! Medical Travel Insurance: SkyMed is a medical travel insurance provider. Any medical travel insurance will get you back to the US, but SkyMed takes you home. Where's home? From their website: "Our definition of home is simple: Home is where you say it is. When struck by the unexpected, our service takes you home. Visit their complete website to learn more about them and purchase this essential peace of mind for your next journey.

Travel insurance: Travel insurance, also know as trip insurance, trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance protects a traveler's vacation cost against cancellation, interruption and delay while also providing medical, lost or damaged property coverage.

Travel Tips - As you leave:
Pack light: The airlines are looking for every penny they can get and they will take several for overweight bags. You really don't need a lot of clothes. I'd appreciate it if you didn't wear muscle tees to dinner, but I've seen worse. I've rarely seen a tie and sport coat. Fifteen years ago it was difficult to find some things on the island, but now almost anything is available. You don't need to bring coolers full of frozen meat, although you can, as there are no customs duties, hence, no customs inspection. If you feel you need beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkel equipment, etc, it may be simpler to rent it from Pack Light Rentals.

Airport parking: Everything about airports costs extra money, generally for less. We always park outside the airport and save considerable money. This company can find inexpensive parking for you and get a guaranteed reservation and that's one less thing to worry about! ParkSleepFly adds the convenience of a hotel room near the airport for those who have to travel far for an early morning flight. We've certainly used this service several times. Save On Airport Parking

Airports: Check TSA's prohibited list and their 3-1-1 rules for liquids or gels. Your passport is required and is an acceptable means of identification. Make sure the name matches the name on the ticket.

Travel Tips - As you return:
Returning with booze: You can take a liter of alcohol back per person (over 21) and we do have much lower prices down here. Glass bottles get heavy rather quickly and can break with disastrous results. We have been drinking wine in bladders in a box in the US. None is great, but some are OK. We save the box and rinse out the bladder. They generally hold three liters, and cut down on the weight considerably while being safer. In over ten years of traveling back to the US with more than the duty-free limit, we have been asked to pay a minimal duty only once. It's not illegal (at the federal level) to bring in more than two liters, but you have to declare it. Generally they don't want to bother with the paperwork. Remember, this much liquid has to go in checked luggage. You can buy booze inside the secure area and carry it on the plane. The prices are generally higher and if you have a connecting flight, you'll have to put the booze in checked luggage then.

Airport lounge: There are no airline lounges in SXM. All our club fees are wasted here. There are shops, bars, and restaurants and there is a private lounge that you can enter for a fee. They have internet access and more comfy chairs plus drinks, possibly food.

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