We islanders need stuff. As much as we love the somewhat simpler way of life that the tropics bring forth, we still can’t escape the need for stuff (some more practical than others…). But due to shipping restrictions, high costs, and limited availability of certain things online, we’re often forced to get creative. One of our favorite solutions? Visiting friends and family aka Vacation Mules.

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Now let me apologize right now to my friends and family for referring to you as mules, but I just can’t find another term quite so apropos. Not only are we islanders appreciative each and every time you accept the work of a Vacation Mule, it is not an exaggeration to say that you make our island life more livable. We love having you visit and we love the rock life essentials you bring with you. However, we do understand that with your agreement to participate as a Vacation Mule, there are some contractual unsaid DOs and DON’Ts that we must uphold on our end to ensure an ongoing positive working relationship.

Islanders, take note:

DON’Ts

  1. DON’T overwhelm your Vacation Mule by sending an excess of items to their homes that they must unwrap and find space for. Remember – they are headed on vacation and need space in their luggage for their own items too.
  2. DON’T overload your Vacation Mule. The worst thing you can do is send something larger than typical suitcase dimensions or something so heavy it will surely tip the scales. You don’t want to make your Vacation Mule that person at the airport that is frantically unpacking and repacking their bags on the sidewalk to avoid overweight baggage fees on your behalf. That is a surefire way to lose any hope of that Vacation Mule ever working for you again.
  3. DON’T stress your Vacation Mule out by sending a package that barely makes it to them before their travel date. This is especially applicable if the item in question is imperative to their vacation comfort such as a very important generator part that will keep you all comfortable when electricity is lost or a mosquito net to put around their bed to help in reduce their likelihood of being eaten alive by mosquitos while they try to sleep.
  4. DON’T send any items to your Vacation Mule that are on the No Fly List or that can potentially ruin a person’s belongings/clothing should it burst open in flight.

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DOs

  1. DO ask your Vacation Mule’s permission to send items to their homes prior to ordering.
  2. DO let your Vacation Mule know what you have ordered and how/when they will be receiving the package(s).
  3. DO keep an ongoing list for yourself of items that are perfect for Vacation Mules to bring. Sometimes, out of the blue, you will be asked the very wonderful question, “Is there anything I can bring for you?” When that opportunity arises, you don’t want to be caught off-guard with nothing prepared because surely, upon their arrival, the light bulb will then go off and you will live to regret your oversight.
  4. DO make sure you greet your Vacation Mule at the airport with cold water and an alcoholic beverage of their choice. Get them settled and get their feet in the sand as soon as possible after their arrival to show your gratitude and remind them why they love coming to visit you in the first place.

Drinks Supplied

Helpful tip: If all else fails and you have exhausted your Vacation Mules but are still in need of stuff, there is a crowd-shipping community originally named mmMule, now called PiggyBee. When researching my package mule theories, I came across an article by Ken Hegan, writer and billionaire, wrote back in 2012 about this group titled Wanted: Mules to Deliver Packages to Strangers. Since then, the company has expanded and rebranded. Has anyone out there used PiggyBee crowd-shipping? I’m definitely intrigued…

In the meantime, take care of your Vacation Mules, islanders! Is there anything any of you islanders – or Vacation Mules themselves – would add to the list?

Written By:

Heidi Fagerberg

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Kitts

Island Girl Since:

2007

Originally Hails From:

New York... sort of.

Unbeknownst to Heidi, her heart was stolen in 2001 while visiting her sister at Veterinarian University on the rock of St. Kitts. The sick to her stomach feeling when getting on a plane to leave the rock was not yet enough for her to understand her heart’s true desire. She set off to revamp her life, leading her to a Master’s program to teach English as a second language which she hoped would allow her to travel more.

But the conch shell kept on blowing and was impossible to ignore after she moved to teach English in Costa Rica. Heidi found herself stealing away from her new home in paradise back to the rock of St. Kitts. A long distance love affair usually ends in heartache and her whole person was in constant pain – she missed her love, St. Kitts. Finally, she succumbed, moving there in 2007.

Now her days are spent living out her burning love affair with St. Kitts and Nevis – capturing the scenic beauty of the islands through photography, keeping company with the animal characters in her books, and developing youth sailing programming in the Federation. To add a bit of flare to her “crazy life”, she joined her husband in restoring gems. She refers to it as wrenching on cars while liming with her best friend. They are not just any cars, but her beloved mellow yellow Jeep and his four fantastic, historic Land Rovers.

Each and every day she wakes up and thinks, “Wake me up from this dream and demon of a life. I am alive and happy.” WOOP WOOP! For more about Heidi, check out her website, Miss Heidi’s World.

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