Comments Off on Things to avoid – Nighttime Airport Arrivals
We frequently have friends and relatives flying into the Dominican Republic which brings up a topic of safety. Is it safe to fly into the Dominican Republic with a nighttime arrival? Often to save money this is something we have to deal with, in general the answer is no. It is best to get a flight that arrives during daylight hours, but there are ways around this problem.
Best price Flights
The single most expensive part of your trip to the DR is likely to be your flight. It is pretty common to be able to save hundreds of dollars on your round trip ticket by adjusting your takeoff and arrival dates. Often though you can find much cheaper flights on late night arrivals. Most people don’t want to have to deal with getting a taxi to the resort or their final destination in the middle of the night. However this posses several safety issues in the Dominican Republic.
Dangers of Nighttime travel in the Dominican Republic
Unfortunately the streets are not very safe at night in the DR. The US consulate highly recommends to avoid driving at night here for good reason. Vehicles are often not in very good repair you will frequently find cars and motorcycles on the road at night with no headlights, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving erratically. In addition to the poor condition of the vehicles the roads here are in poor repair, with few streetlights, broken or non existent traffic lights, potholes, missing manhole covers in the middle of the street and debris in the streets. Motorcycles usually ignore driving laws and do not stop for stop signs and traffic lights, and often drive on the wrong side of the road even without any sort of headlight or other lights on the vehicle. While you might think I am exaggerating, you will find that is not the case once you get here.
In addition to the very poor driving conditions the US consulate has repeatedly put out warnings about taxis and privately owned cars being pulled over at night after leaving the airport and being robbed. Muggers often search out their victims at the airports and follow them out forcing them to pull over once they get to an isolated location. While this rarely happens during the day due to the large amount of traffic, there have been frequent reports of this with taxis leaving in particular the Santo Domingo airport, but we have also had this happen to friends leaving the Santiago airport heading out to Jarabacoa. And to be clear on this, Taxi drivers will not do anything to protect their clients, if forced over they will hand you over to the muggers so that they can leave.
Prepare and be safe
While this paints a pretty bleak picture of the DR you can do things to be safe. One of the biggest things is to only travel during the day if at all possible, and especially when leaving the airport. Daytime travel is much safer.
One of the best solutions we have found is to stay at the airport until it gets light. For example we have a friend that was only able to find a decent priced flight with a 2am arrival time. We plan on traveling during the day and staying at the airport overnight, when our guest gets there we will wait until it gets light in the morning before we leave. While this does seem a little extreme and we would probably be fine taking a cab back or me driving at night the frequency of the warnings and the number of articles I have read in the local newspapers means that if you do than you are traveling at your own risk. In my opinion, it is better to have one uncomfortable night in the Airport than to loose your stuff trying to get to a hotel or your destination.