The Caribbean is the perfect place to relax on tropical shores and unwind with a cocktail amongst the palm trees. But many budget travelers are put off by high trip prices and the large number of luxury hotels way beyond their means, often believing it's the playground for the rich and famous. Yet the truth is there are several tricks to bagging a Caribbean vacation package that is affordable and fun without having to resort to stringing up a hammock to the nearest palm tree.
1. Shop around for a great deal – if you take the time to search online and are prepared to go last minute then you're guaranteed to find an amazing offer. You may be put off by the initial outlay of an all-inclusive package, but very often it ends up being cheaper as eating out for every meal in a restaurant can prove to be very expensive. Also an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation package allows you to spend your budget and stick to it, as well as offering access to a whole host of included extras which would be very pricey separately, such as water sports and a trip to the spa.
2. Go off-peak – many people are put off traveling to the Caribbean during off peak season because of the risk of hurricanes. Off-peak is from April to October and although the risk of hurricane is higher with such high-tech forecasting systems nowadays the risk to travelers is minimal. In fact, off-peak can be one of the best times to experience the Caribbean, escaping the expensive winter months with hotels and package deals offering savings of up to 50%. You'll escape the winter crowds and experience the many local events and festivals which happen during the off-peak season, from jazz festivals to sports competitions.
3. Save money on flights – book well in advance to secure cheaper tickets, with round trips costing less than a one-way. The other option is to be flexible with your dates and travel mid week, fall, spring or summer, when you're bound to find a bargain. Or if you're feeling brave leave it until the absolute last-minute, just a couple of days before travel to pick up empty seats or hotel rooms. Traveling from remote airports also often conveys a discount. There are some great online sites that will find you budget airline tickets (see resources).
4. Choose a small hotel chain – if you opt for a less expensive inn or guesthouse rather than a beachside resort you may find much cheaper prices as well as experience a different side to the Caribbean away from the well worn tourist trail. For example, in Granada and Tobago, Beyond the Beaches is a small chain of 17 alternative hotels inland on the coast providing affordable accommodation off the beaten track.