VERY LONG SUMMARY - Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] NCJ article by N6NT

David Clemons dave at
Mon Oct 27 18:24:54 EST 1997

        Several weeks ago, after reading N6NT's article, I asked the
question of actual costs for Caribbean DXpeditions.  I received many
good responses and also several requests that this be summarized to the
reflector.  Also, NCJ may include some of this material (and hopefully
expand on it) in a future column.

        I have removed the information for which I received requests of
confidentiality.  (The sources of this information are listed at the end
of this message.)  For those who make use of this information in future
DXpeditions, I wish you good travel and many QSOs!

        My apologies for summarizing so late, but I've been very busy
at work and also somewhat sick for the last few weeks.  I am now starting
on another antibiotic, and hope to be well in time for CW SS.

73, Dave Clemons K1VUT
I've made trips to PJ7, VP2E, & 8P, and I've got a trip this
fall to KP2 and a possible trip to either J3 or VP5 for next spring.

Here have been my typical costs:

Airfare: $450-$600 (although J3 would be more and some other places
         are harder to get to and are more like 9Y).

Room / Station Rental: $100/day to $200/day.

Rental car: $300-$500 / week (probably more required than you
            think unless you just plan on doing radio not
            exploring the island and/or you are not at or
            near a major plantation.  For example on 8P, we
            were in a sugar cane plantation.  Nearest store
            or resturant was 3-4 miles)

Food: Depends on how much you eat out.  Eating out in general
      is expensive.  Grocery cost vary a lot from island to
      island, but in general figure about 1.5X to 2X NC US
      prices.  You do need to really look at prices.  Some
      US name brands are no more expensive than here.  Other
      US name brands are 10X what they are here.  In that case,
      buy a local brand.

Those are the major expenses.  Other that I have typcially
incurred are:
- Souviners
- Entertainment (like boat trips, snorkeling, etc)
- License cost
- Entry/Exit taxes

Hope this helps.  Good luck.
After the airfare......


License - 6 per year

N4JQQ's place goes for about 140 a night.  TS-690
        R7000 at about 20 feet.  room for a longwire or dipole if "you are
        discreet".  Air conditioned, 2 BR/2 Bath
KC4SZE's place goes for 160 a night + a 200 one time fee.  IC-751A
        5 el tribander, 2 el 40m, R7, 160 & 80M dipoles.  No air, 3 BR/2
        Bath.  Third couple is 50/day extra

Both are at Treasure Cay, Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
Lunches from the "roving lunch wagon" is about 6 to 8 each.  Dinner for two
at the marina restaurant is about 30.  If you take the free taxi to one of
the restaurants out on the highway to Marsh Harbor it is about half that.
The grocery store at Treasure Cay is fairly pricey, but they have to ship
everything in.  Big bag of chips is 6, Pringles are about 3.  They have
pretty much everything, but not a big selection of brands.  Hieniken Beer
is 24 a case, Kalick (Bahamaian Beer) is about 15 a case.  Don't drink the
hard stuff, so I didn't price it.  Think soda (Coke/Pepsi) was about double
what we were used to paying.  I figure on about 50 a day to eat and
drink and a few souvineers.
Drinking and cooking water is fifty cents a gallon at the marina.
Bikes are 12 a day, golf carts are 35 a day and cars are 75 a day.

This is all from memory last October for CQ WW SSB at N4JQQ's vila.  This
year we are going to KC4SZE's for CQ WW CW.  It's going to cost a bit more
because it is about a mile from town, but there are antennas!
        Our J6DX crew spends about $1350 each for two weeks in St. Lucia.
That breaks down to:

        Air Lines: about $550 for airfare via Delta and BWIA from Dayton, 
        Housing: About $40 per night per person in the 3 bedroom villa (with
                 maid, cook, pool) For a total of about $550
        Ground Transportation: About $120 for rental car per person
        Food: About $6.00 per day for villa food, more if we eat out.
There are some other costs that I can't put my finger on that may add $50
or so (departure tax, tips, etc.)  It's cheaper than a hotel.
        Hope this helps you out.  The outfit that rents villas in St. Lucia
has properties all over the Caribbean.
Bev and I have made several of these trips and your at one of the best
sources for information on Contest Traveling.  Between Dennis, K7BV;
Sean WX9X; and myself, we are trying to present information that you will
need to have a fun trip and successful contest effort. The July/August NCJ
Contest Traveler is aimed at making those travel arrangements and has some
hints at how to save those dollars.  Now, to the meat of your question, HOW
MUCH?  Typically, it has cost Bev and I from Chicago and Indianapolis between
$475 to $585 each for round trip airfare.  Plan where and when as soon as
possible, then watch for sales.  I would guess from where you are at, driving
to NYC might save you some bucks on airfare.

Rentals with antennas are more expensive, but you want to take your own, so
it will depend on where you are going and what you want.  I have seen rustic
(like up north in Maine or Michigan) for as little as $25 per night to a
place with all the niceties on the beach for $175 per night.  You can find
rentals for around $700 to $1400 a week in most places.  You cook your own
meals or dine out.  Car rentals are usually expensive, running between $50
and $80 per day.

For food, I can eat in Chicago the best foods in the world, except Bev & I
like native foods.  We're not into fancy places for eating.  With that in
mind, we found foods for meals, like breakfast and lunch at the rental cost
about 25% higher than at home.  Meals out varied from the 25% higher to down
right cheap!

You can save on airfare by going to popular places like the Cayman, but I
believe food and rentals cost more.  It is a give and take thing.  Typically,
we have had a good time on about $3000 for the two of us, sometimes much 
I saw your inquiry, following N6NT's article in NCJ.  I is hard to
estimate costs, as different people want different accomodations when
they travel.

First of all, contact WJ2O and buy his DX Travel book - about $12.00.  He
lists where he has stayed and has data on costs of renting rooms or ham
shacks where he has travled.

Next, write all the hams who list shacks for rent ..... Sea Q Maui in
Hawaii in most CQ; VP5JM; P40V; VP2EE; etc.  They all advertise in CQ or
QST, at least periodically.  They will send you photos and prices.  Then
add in your air travel, some $$ for food and sight seeing and you know
the costs.

I have been to the Caymans three times, because they give you a call, and
do not have to operate "/" portable.  Great place and great people.  I
have rented ZF8AA's place before, but not sure still available.  Also,
took my wife to Cayman Brac on one trip, stayed at Brac Reef Resort, and
put up R5 and 40 mtr dipole in palm trees.  Only operated CW at nite
after our daily site seeing ... vy spouse friendly trip, and resort was
ham friendly.

My guess is that you would spend somewhere between $1,100 and $1,300 on
the room and board for two; so that plus sight seeing $$ and air travel
would give you some idea of cost.

For a guy to travel alone, can go lot cheaper, getting dumpy motel like
N6NT did, and eat out of cans etc.  That would cut the trip in half, but
spouses not usually like to travel like that ... too much expedition and
not evnough vacation.

GO FOR IT ... dx travel is great.
Two years ago, in going to VP2M for CQWW CW, I flew on the weekend
before Thanksgiving.  In Puerto Rico, the flight that I was to connect
with was overbooked, so the airline gave me $600.00, put me up for the night
in a beach front hotel, bought me supper and breakfast, allowed me time for
a morning dip in the ocean, and then flew me on my way the next day.
Upon arriving to Antigua, I discovered my connecting flight to be
overbooked, so the airline gave me $500.00, put me up for the night,
fed me supper and breakfast, and connected me on a flight the next day.
My original ticket cost right around $700.00.
So, you see, airfares can sometimes be really quite cheap!
Thought I would drop you a quick note-my expedition this year was to
C6A-San Salvador Isl Bahamas-Trip ran over the IOTA contest

I got a last minute land only sell off for the Club Med resort in the amount
of $980CDN per week all inclusive, since I travel on business I used flyer
miles for the airfare-with overnights in Miami, taxes and licence fees I
prbabl spent $1200CDN($800US) all in-not bad as I justified it as a
vacation as well.

The trick may be in getting last minute sell offs from agents or tour
ops-does not leave much time for planning(or to get a lcience) but sure
cuts down on the cost-eventually all of the Countriess in Region II will
subscribe to the International amateur Radio Permit(IARP) and let you
operate without a reciprocal licence.

Perhaps I can help. Since 1987 my wife and I have made about six trips to
either South America or to the Carribean (P40V). Here's what I pre-plan.

Airfare:  $1,100
Other  :   1,000

So the basic cost is $2,100 per person for everything. You can reduce some
of the stuff some of the time. e.g. Aruba airface was only $800 as was the
airfare to Quito, Ecuador. The Galapogos costs about 400 extra a piece.

Figure $150/day for the two of you plus extras. Seems to work for me. The
easiest place to visit is one of these that rents the house and the gear
places, e.g. P40V, VP5 Jodi's, etc.

They give you firm prices on everything. e.g.

P40V  700 week for cottage (with gear)
      125 car
      150 amp
       50 starting food
       25 pickup

The hard part is the "big" contests are usually booked. But try something
a little less exotic.
I have been down 4 times now.  The airfare will be a big chunk so shop
around.  Other expenses of course will vary.  Another big piece is
accommodations.  On my trips to St. Kitts V47M we stayed at a modest
beach house.  Worked great for contests.  Lots of room and very little
built up around it.  It was close to the dump and the airport!  I think
it was about $350 per week.  This was back in the 80's.  My last trip
was to KP2/St. John.  We stayed a very nice condo complex.  4 units per
building.  Not a great situation for contesting.  I did ask ahead of
time if it would be ok to operate.  I did get some weird looks from
guests and staff.  They had cable TV etc...  Glad I was low power.  The
St. John trip was about $2000 per person round trip from Denver.  A big
part was the accommodations.  I think the Airfare was around $700.00 per
person.  The trip was a surprise from my wife so I had little input.  I
would have preferred other arrangements.

If you are serious about winning I suggest you also go to a non-us
destination.  The ability to go outside the US bands in some contests
are almost a must.  Signing portable stinks as well.  WP2Z is a great
location with everything on site.  Would make for a simple expedition.

Regardless what you do you will have a great time.  Even from KP2 I had
big pileups with a puny signal.  The path to EU is incredible.
Thanks goes to the following for this information:

Hank, K8DD   /VP2M  /VP2A  /KH0  /VE2 zone 2  /G0  /DL0 /C6A

Scott Lehman, N9AG

Jim Stevens, K4MA & 8P9JA

K8Joe"Palooka" & Beverly
(K8JP, V31JP, VP5/K8JP, VP5JP, K8JP/VA2, ex-K8HKM, ex-KN8HKM)

Mark Perrin, N7MQ

Bob Perring, N5RP (VP2MGP)


Jay Townsend, WS7I

Mike, W0MU

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