CariJetting off this summer for a Caribbean vacation usually results in relaxing or exhilarating experiences in Instagram-worthy locations. But it can also come with a hefty price tag. If money is not an object, first-class flights, private jets, luxury resorts, and island rentals are all within your reach. However, when your travel budget is limited, you need to be more deliberate in planning your trip.Use these money-saving tricks and tips to make the most of your getaway:
Know Your Budget
Once you know how much you want to spend, you can design a Caribbean vacation around that budget—you just have to be travel savvy. For example, traveling in the off-season will usually get you lower airfares and better hotel rooms for lower prices, as will starting and ending your trip midweek. As a bonus, you get to enjoy a whole weekend without the pressure of getting back to work on Monday, plus you’ll have a short work week before and after your vacation!
Finding the best deals for airfare, hotel, and car rental is as easy as searching travel sites like Hotwire, Priceline, and Travelocity. Once you find a rate you like, check the airline or hotel website to see if it’s cheaper there. And beware of “basic economy” airfares, which come with tons of restrictions and may not include checked bags—in the end, it may cost you more. Groupon also offers exciting, deeply discounted Caribbean vacation packages, with airfare, all-inclusive hotels, cruises, and more.
Practice Cruise Control & Other Money-Saving Strategies
Cruises can be relatively inexpensive if you find great deals. But if you can’t control your impulses, the upsell experts may have you paying for anything from sodas to shore excursions at inflated rates. To save money, you can skip the tours, use another tour company, or embark on a self-guided exploration—just be aware of safety issues. Refusing travel insurance is another way you can save. Depending on the destination, length of the vacation, and other factors, you may not need insurance. Additionally, some insurance benefits come standard with flights and accommodations.
Get. Free. Stuff.
Some of the best experiences on your vacation may not even cost you a penny! Take advantage of free activities—at the hotel or in town—which may include live concerts, walking tours, art exhibits, and yoga classes. Many properties offer complimentary Wi-Fi and continental breakfast… those are savings you can use to pay for souvenirs or must-do activities.
Splurge or Save
Islands like The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have something to offer everyone—from the uber-rich vacationer to the thrifty traveler. Try these on for size:
Splurge at Nassau’s Baha Mar, a luxurious resort with a choice of three oceanfront hotels—Rosewood, SLS, and Grand Hyatt—offering enviable amenities like a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, ritzy casino, nature sanctuary, and full-service spa.
Save in Eleuthera, where anyone on the island can enjoy the beautiful and rare pink sand beaches.
Splurge at GoldenEye in Oracabessa, where Ian Fleming penned all the James Bond novels. It’s an assortment of private villas, cottages, and beach huts with private beaches and secluded coves.
Save at the Bob Marley Museum where a peek into the reggae legend’s life will only set you back US$25.
Splurge at Crystal Springs, a charming private 10-bedroom beachfront villa on the famous Platinum Coast. Indulge in an infinity pool, private cinema, speedboat, and gourmet dining.
Save aboard the Atlantis Submarine in Bridgetown, where you can experience Barbados’ nightlife underwater, with unique views of the coral reef, for just over US$100.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
Splurge at the Ritz Carlton, a 30-acre beachfront property in St. Thomas with turquoise waters, spectacular views, and Caribbean hospitality.
Save at St. Thomas’ Mangrove Lagoon, where a self-guided kayak tour of St. Thomas’ Mangrove Lagoon surrounding cays is just US$59 with Virgin Islands Ecotours.