Save big on your Caribbean vacation with these 7 secret tips!
We get it–going on vacation to the Caribbean isn’t cheap– especially if you’re bringing your entire family along. However, there are plenty of ways to save money and still score a fun, luxurious stay in paradise. Here are our favorite ways to save money while traveling to the Caribbean:
1. Travel in the Off Season
In the Caribbean, there’s a tourist high season and low season. High season is generally around holidays like Easter and Christmas, and during the winter months, when northerners head south to escape cold, snow, and dreary sunless days.
During the off season, you’ll generally find lower rates on flights, accomodations, and even excursions.
In addition, there are plenty of other advantages to traveling during the tourist low season, including the fact that the most popular beaches will be much less crowded!
2. Use travel apps
These days, there’s an app for everything. One of our favorites is an app called Hopper (yes, the logo is a bunny). This tool will find you the best prices for flights across all airlines, no matter where you want to fly. However, here’s where this app stands out: it can tell you the right time to buy your flight. Once you’ve searched for flights to a certain island, Hopper will save your search, and send you a notification once prices drop and it’s time to buy. The official website promises to save you up to 40%.
3. Book a vacation villa
Did you know you can actually save BIG on your Caribbean vacation accommodations by booking a villa instead of staying in a hotel or resort? Here’s why: when traveling with others, you can split the price of your villa, instead of paying for several hotel rooms.
With a rental villa, you and your party will enjoy peace, privacy, and a personal pool, all for less money than you’d pay a tiny hotel room (in which you’ll be limited to a communal pool that’s constantly full of other tourists). In addition, pick the right villa and you’ll get delightful beach views, without paying a premium for one of those “ocean-facing” hotel suites.
4. Use travel site conglomerates (but with caution)
Travel site conglomerates like Trivago, Expedia, Momondo, and Kayak can save you a lot of time by helping you compare flight prices across many different airlines. These sites allow you to search and compare different dates for flights as well.
However, just two corporations own most of these sites, which means they dominate the marketplace. Therefore, the “deals” they appear to offer may not actually include real savings.
For example, Expedia Group owns Expedia, Trivago, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Orbitz. (This Skift article explains how Expedia Group’s brands successfully dominate the market).
What does this mean for you, the consumer? Well, when just a few corporations own all these sites, competition is reduced, inevitably resulting in less savings for you. This is especially true for hotel rates, since many of these sites list the exact same hotels, often at the same prices.
In short, it’s a good idea to use these sites to search for deals, but also to check with “direct vendors” to see if you’re really getting the best price. In the end, by using a conglomerate site, you may be paying extra for a “middle man” (even if they don’t appear to charge a fee).
5. Book a “mystery” flight
Did you know that you can book a direct flight to the Caribbean for less than $200? A new app called GetLost allows you to take advantage of last-minute flight offers at dirt-cheap prices.
The catch? You won’t know exactly where you’re going until you purchase your ticket. For those who love to plan in advance, this may not be an option. However, those with an adventurous spirit will enjoy saving big on travel to the Caribbean.
Here’s how it works: you select your departure city (as of March 2020, airports are limited to the New York area). Next, you choose a departure date from 2 to 21 days from your booking date. Then, you select one of four categories of destinations, outlined below:
- Just Go: Charleston, Chicago, Denver, Savannah, Tampa, New Orleans
- Island Time: Antigua, Aruba, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, San Juan, St. Thomas
- Life’s a Beach: Charleston, Miami, San Juan, Sarasota, Savannah, Tampa
- Nightlife: Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando
Choose “Island Time” in order to book a flight to the Caribbean! Next, pick your price from the options provided. In 24 to 48 hours, you’ll receive an email with the destination you’ve been assigned, and your flight itinerary!
If you’re up for a little adventure, you can score deep discounts with this app.
6. Pack light
Nowadays, airlines love to pack on the fees as much as travelers love to overpack their suitcases. Here are ways to get around those pesky luggage tarifs:
- Avoid penalties by weighing your suitcase BEFORE you head to the airport. (We swear by these handheld suitcase scales).
- If your airline charges for the first checked bag, bring only the essentials, and learn how to pack them in your carry-on. Make sure you don’t pack any liquids in your carry-on (unless they are TSA-approved and packed in 3 oz containers).
- Check your airline’s baggage fees BEFORE you book. Or, at least before you head to the airport!
7. Choose the right island
Did you know that you’ll get more bang for your buck in certain Caribbean countries? That’s because some islands have a cheaper cost of living than others. Choose the right island for your needs, and do your research before you select your destination, especially if it’s your first time traveling to the Caribbean.
In addition, you can save money by traveling to a country that uses the same currency as your own. For example, if you’re from the U.S., you can use dollars in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. You won’t lose a dime exchanging money. Also, you also won’t have to worry about bringing home extra cash in a foreign currency.
Main image via Getty Images.