Beach on a Budget
By: Leah Ingram, Suddenly Frugal
You may not think that spending time on the beach in the Caribbean and saving money are two things that you can do at the same time. But there are a few things you can do to keep the beach in your budget. A key component to this can simply be knowing where to look for savings or how to stretch your buck.
First and foremost, you're more likely to save money by booking a package deal through a service like Cheapcaribbean.com.
Even though an all-inclusive might seem more expensive upfront, in the end I believe they end up being cheaper because you don't have to lay out any cash for your food. I have stayed at all-inclusive resorts on St. Croix, St. Lucia and Jamaica, and I loved the ease of knowing where my next meal was coming from--and that I didn't have to pay extra to get it.
Another great benefit to booking all-inclusive travel is the options you have. Nearly all destinations in the Caribbean & Mexico offer all-inclusive resorts, which means there’s definitely something for everyone. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you can search for all-inclusive hotels that cater to couples and honeymooners, or if a family vacation is in the works, there’s plenty of resorts that offer full family all-inclusive options. You may even want to check the price for younger children, as some of the resorts charge less or even offer free stays for young children.
When it comes time for souvenirs, I would recommend going off property. While you may save on meals at an all-inclusive, the same is not always true for items in the gift shop. If you are in a location with a chain supermarket or drugstore, stop in to look at your souvenir options. You are likely to see many of the same products from your hotel gift shop, but for a lot less money.
Another affordable souvenir option: local art works. I remember during a trip to Nassau, Bahamas, we visited an artists' collective on Paradise Island. There, painters, sculptors and other visual artists had booths set up as workstations and from which they sold their goods. We ended up purchasing two original watercolors for less than $40. My husband and I also brought artwork home as souvenirs from our trips to St. Lucia and St. Croix.
Years later, many of those prints are still hanging in our home. Every time I see them I remember our amazing trips to the Caribbean. The fact that we didn't spend a ton of cash while there helps to make those memories even better for this frugalista!
Leah Ingram is the founder of the Suddenly Frugal blog at www.suddenlyfrugal.com, and the author of 14 books, including Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less and Tie the Knot on a Shoestring.