It always seems as though when we’re bathing in the sun, sipping cold margaritas and feeling the sand beneath our toes, after a while, we start to say “I can’t wait for winter and sweaters!” But here’s the catch…when we’re wrapped up in a fleece blanket, with a warm mug of hot chocolate in our hands and the smell of wood burning in the background, we dream about vacationing where fewer clothes are needed!
It can be a little discouraging halfway through winter when your bronze glow that you worked so hard for during the summer, seems to have literally jumped off and headed south for the winter. And I’m not going to start the controversial tanning bed topic because we all know the potential threat it can lead to, but for some reason we are all invisible. (Right?)
Well, put the self tanners down and back away from the tanning beds because I’ve listed out 5 tips to help you get some real UV sun rays and Vitamin D with a cautious budget in mind.
Two words. ALL INCLUSIVE. When searching for your tropical getaway it is very important to see if the resort/package is all inclusive. This means you pay one flat rate (it might sting a little forking it up all at once) but once you’re there, you won’t need to carry your wallet, let alone look at it while you’re there. All inclusives are the way to go because it includes all meals, snacks, drinks and adult beverages-and might also offer 24 hour room service. Now it is a good idea to tip the staff when they wait on you, so you might need to bring a little cash. Want a little personal advice? The first day you arrive, tip the bartender, or whomever you think you will need the most, like $20-$40 and watch as the week goes on how fast and happy they are to help!
Search and compare and then search and compare some more. One website that I’ve used, as well as many others I know, is CheapCarribean.com. This website makes it so much easier to search and compare pricing for different destinations, months to travel, resorts, flights, etc. They usually have really great deals for all inclusives that include airfare as well, so you don’t have to mess with that chaos of trying to schedule the best flight. It also shows their ratings for each resort and customer ratings. And trust me- customers tell the truth about these places.
If you’re trying to escape the cold for some warm sun, travel before January rolls around. I know, that doesn’t break up the cold winter months for some of you in places like Michigan or Vermont, but the rates are much lower in October, November and December. Once January, February and March hit, prices double! This is because this is their “high travel season.” I did a search for Dominican Republic, Punta Cana (one of my favorite tropical destinations) in November and all inclusive packages started off as low as $760 for 5 nights with air and went up to $1900. But when I searched for packages in January, the lowest started off at $957 and went up to $2200.
If you don’t have very much Paid Time Off (PTO), I recommend booking Friday through Tuesday so that two of your days off are over the weekend. Now that’s only 4 nights, which seems like just enough time to stretch out on the beach, but trust me it goes by way too fast! If you have the time saved, I highly recommend staying 5 nights. I would book a Thursday through Tuesday, and in this case you’re only using 4 out of the 6 days. And if you don’t mind missing turkey and stuffing, Thanksgiving is a great time to travel because you already get two days paid vacation (Thursday and Friday) so you would only have to use 2 PTO days. But one drawback is that prices might jump a little due to being a holiday, so I guess it just depends on which is more important to you-less PTO used or least expensive package.
Read the ratings! This is important because, while pictures are worth a thousand words, they can hide the truth. Keep in mind that the pictures of the rooms they show with the Jacuzzi bathtub in the room with rose pedals floating in the water are probably the most expensive rooms there that you aren’t looking to book. The reviews provide inside information that the website and pictures aren’t going to provide. Some reviews might say the rooms and bathrooms need updating, or that the room smelled moldy. Another thing to watch out for is how many restaurants there are and what the nightlife is like (if that’s what you’re looking for). Some might show that they have 10 restaurants but the reviews will tell you that only 4 are open per night. Another thing to keep in mind is how friendly the staff was, what the beaches were like, the quality of the food, on-site activities- whatever is most important for you.
Whether you’re looking to get away to relax and stretch out on the white sand while reading 50 Shades of Gray with the turquoise water backdrop or diving in the sand playing volleyball, meeting other couples, taking your favorite shots and dancing all night long- if you follow these 5 tips, it will make your life easier and you’ll feel confident when trying to win approval from whomever you’re wanting to travel with.
We all need a break from time to time, and what better time to do it when the end of the year is winding down and you need a little R&R to get you through the next 365 days?