Help!

Old Jul 4th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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Help!

I have never been on an island vacation. As a matter of fact, I have never really planned a vacation, so I need some help. My wife and I have been married for 7 years, and we are in desparate need of a vacation. We have $1000.00 and live in Charleston SC. We want to go to an island with a beautiful beach, good food, good drinks and nice people. There is way too much information out there; can anyone give me some direction?
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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Is that $1000 for both? Airfare alone will take that. Sorry-while it seems like a lot of money, it won't get you far in the Caribbean.

Only with your budget in mind, you may want to check out Mexico--the Tulum area has beautiful beaches, decent food, and tons of drinks. The all inclusives there would probably include air, and be close to your budget.

Check out Costco or BJs Clubs for discount savings.

Or for those prices, you could also take a cruise from FLA to multiple islands.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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We have done many "cheap" AI vacations in Mexico. The lowest price we paid for air and AI hotel for 2 people was $1350 out of Texas. Granted the AI at the hotel was not all that, but we are mainly in it for the drinks and not the food. We tend to go out also. Does that $1,000 also include spending money for shopping, tours, necessities, ect.

The least expensive areas in Mexico will be Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta.

Give us some more detailed information and we can better give you ideas. You might want to check on-line booking companies for your dates and see what prices are; Orbitz, Travelocity, CheapCaribbean.com, bookit.com and beachdestinations.com are good starting points.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for you input! We could probably budget $1300, and that would be for everything. We do not shop, but we do like to eat out. Are the AI places worth it? Also, we were hoping to go soon, like maybe in the middle of August. Is that a good time?
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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I don't think you are going to get what you want for that budget. First, air and hotel will probably cost about that or more and if that price includes going out to eat, drinks and other necessities than you're already over budget. AI's in that price range have mediocore food at best.

August is prime hurricane season so the least expensive place to go, Mexico, you have to factor in hurricane/trip insurance to be on the safe side.

I looked at some non-AI hotels in Cozumel for 4 nights in August. Without hurricane/trip insurance it starts at $1,063.00 for air and hotel. That leaves you about $300 for food, drinks and anything else. Be aware, that hotels at that low price point are not going to be spetacular, but will get you on vacation.

The El Cozumeleno AI is $1,400. We have stayed there and thought the hotel was very nice at that price point, but the food lacking. We ate mostly in town. However, at that price, we thought it was great for breakfast and unlimited drinks so spending money off property wasn't a big deal. But, that leaves you sitting on the resort for 4 days and not seeing or exploring the wonderful Island of Cozumel, which would be a shame in itself.

Ideally, you need about $1,500 for air and hotel and another $500 at least for everything else. You might want to solicate the assistance of a travel agent to see if they can find you some type of special deal not listed with internet booking agencies. Good Luck.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 02:17 PM
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there is a site called resortvacationstogo. i found one trip in your price range. you'd fly to cancun and stay at Real Playa Del Carman. it is not on the beach and the price is $1388 for 2 ppl.
i agree with kvr and blamona $1000 is just not enough for a week in the caribbean. if you can manage $2000 you'll find lots of options on above site.
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Is is worth it to go for shorter than a week?
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Old Jul 4th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Is is worth it to go for shorter than a week?

And thanks so much for your ample and insightful advice!
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Old Jul 5th, 2010, 04:32 AM
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Whether or not it "is worth it to go for shorter than a week" is a question only YOU can answer. It depends on YOUR personal situation.

As you already have found out your budget of $1000 to $1300 for a week's stay is on the very low side and borders on being unrealistic. So YOU have to decide if you'll be comfortable spending YOUR money by going for a shorter time.

Here are some things to consider - depending on where you go - you'll spend the better part of one day getting to your destination and a similar amount of time getting back home. That means if you go for what is commonly referred to a a "5 day/4night" trip you'll actually only have 3 full days "on island".

I know you said you are "in desperate need of a vacation" but maybe you are at a point in your life when a Caribbean vacation is just not in the cards budgetwise. If that's your situation, you might be better off going for a longer period somewhere closer to home that will give you more bang for your buck rather than going for a shorter time at an expensive locale. Consider this, many of the contributors on this forum (including me) are "older seasoned travellers" who didn't really start traveling anyhere exotic until we were in our 40's and could afford taking nice trips. Before that we spent our time going to destinations closer to home. I didn't make my first trip to the Caribbean until I was in my 40's. Now 20+ years I've been all over the islands. Better to go someplace you can afford rather than go someplace where your budget is stretched so thin you won't enjoy yourself because you are always "counting pennies".

You said you live in Charleston, SC - well, for what it is worth, we just got back from a week's vacation in your wonderful city. It's an area we vactioned around for years when our kids were young. The point is, you can vacation almost anywhere. For instance within an hour or two of Charleston you have plenty of beachfront communities like Fripp Island, Wild Dunes, Hilton Head, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Sea Island where you can enjoy a week's stay for far less money than 4 nights in the Caribbean.

For now, put the Caribbean on your wish list. If I were you, I'd vacation somewhere I could drive to in a few hours (you won't have any airfare costs) be it the mountains or the seashore. You'll have a much better time.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 12:35 AM
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PMartin

The two main holiday destinations that we have used recently from the UK are in fact SC and The Bahamas. To a degree I agree with roamsaround, in that you live in a great coastal place. However, a beach holiday is say The Bahamas can be hugely different from that in SC.

To start with you can actually see the bottom in The Caribbean and in many cases when it is 100 feet away. The snorkeling in The Bahamas is incredible with all the same sealife and more of SC but you can actually see it. I have always been a little uncomfortable swimming in The Lowcountry knowing that there are things out there but being in such murky water.

One possibility could be driving down to Florida and catching a flight from say West Palm Beach. Local companies seem to continually battle for business and are offering return flights for $200 to Marsh Harbour. I can suggest small caootges for $800 a week but that doesn't leave much for food.

You also need to be aware that even basic living expenses in The Caribbean can be scary. Many locations are isolated and flying in everying from Pepsi to toilet rolls mean prices can be high.

In short, I would agree with the above - a week in Fripp.
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 05:12 AM
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Our tickets to Barbados this summer cost us $714 each. Even bargain air fares would run at least $500 each. Package combinations (air/hotel) are usually quoted "per person" i.e., if it says a trip to Cancun would run $1,200 -- that cost is per person for the package (unless otherwise stated).

Realistically a trip to most places in the Caribbean will run about $3,500 for a week if not more. Prices lower than that are for budget-type accommodations, or the more undeveloped islands.

Mexico is one of the less costly destinations but even there you would probably need a budget of at least $2,000 - $2,500.

While the water throughout the Caribbean is the best in the world, you may need to opt to drive someplace for a vacation and save the huge chunk of the cost which is air fare. Then you can save up for a nice holiday in the islands in the future.
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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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summer in the Caribbean is much less expensive than in the winter and is not too hot if you spend the day on the beach -- go to a place where there is shade on the beach. You get a nice breeze & it's probably a lot cooler than S.C. in summer. (you do, however, run a possibility of a hurricane in summer -- end of Nov. is the end of hurricane season). That said, $1,000 for 2 people is not enough for a week. Going for a shorter time is your choice -- I wouldn't. As people have said, you have to subtract 2 days for travel. Then there's unpacking on arrival & packing to leave. Then you have to figure you might have a day or 2 of rain, though it rarely rains all day in the Caribbean unless of course there's a hurricane. I think the plane fare for 2 people is not worth it for less than a week. I go to a place in Negril, Jamaica called Villa Mora (you can look it up on the internet). If you stay for a week you probably can get a room for 2 for around $55. a nite -- nice clean rooms. It's across from the beach. It's a small family run place, not a "resort" -- i.e. no restaurant, pool, etc. Lovely people run it. The beach is spectacular. You can eat inexpensively in Jamaica for decent food, but not at all gourmet. Still, after the hotel bill, you have to pay for meals for 2 people & drinks. Even at $30 a day each for food/drinks that's $420. Even at $50 a day for hotel that's $350 for 7 nights -- that brings you to a total of $770 for the least you'd probably spend. That, of course, doesn't include any xtras at all. That leaves you $265 each for r/t airfare & it's very unlikely you'll find that. My suggestion is to get a credit card that gives miles as rewards & make sure to get one that the miles don't expire. Then charge Everything you buy on the credit card -- groceries, drug store, internet bill, cable bill, everything that you can charge (make sure you pay the credit card bill in full every month). If you have the discipline to not spend more than you ordinarily would, & pay in full every month, you can rack up enough miles fairly quickly for at least one airfare. For example, Citicard costs $50 a yr & gives miles for American Airline. Once you spend $30,000 you get a free r/t plane fare to Jamaica. I charge my rent, along with absolutely everything else, so it adds up quickly.
The only other thing I can think of for a Caribbean trip sooner than that is to see if you can get a cheap last minute Caribbean Cruise. You might be able to find something last minute for $750 each, & that would include meals.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 04:55 AM
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If you can get airfare cheap [$600 total]; you could stay in Playa del Carmen for less than $300 for the week [look up club yebo...it's nice, budget, close to beach, clean].

And you can eat and drink very cheaply if you watch where you go. Club Yebo has fridges for beer that you buy at the grocery store [Mega]. You can eat and drink for $50 or less US total easily in Playa.

So it will be tight but do-able. Airfare is the key factor.

Airfare $600
Club Yebo $350 [ask for better deal, you never know]
Food Drink $350

= $1300

Enjoy!

Trish
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 04:57 AM
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meant to say $50 US per day not for the whole week for food and drink budget....$50 * 7 = $350 food and drink for week [watch where you go].

And the Club Yebo total was $45 per night for 7 nights plus 14% tax.

I would guess you could get a deal if they have a room for $300 total.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 05:13 AM
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did quick search...cheapest I could find month of August was AA for $800 total.

Also you need passports. Takes 6 weeks to get so hopefully you have them and if not have budgeted for them and plan a trip for 2 months out just in case unless you expediate them which costs more.

Quick search on apple has some good 5 night deals...
http://www.cheapcaribbean.com/core/q...ion/cc.327.xml

I'm not a huge AI fan but it might be good intro to traveling the Caribbean.

Good luck.

If you wish to save cash and drive somewhere, may I suggest Anna Maria Island, FL. It is beautiful. The water is aqua like the caribbean but visibility under water does not compare. The sand is white. It's a charming, lazy, beach town. Free trolley or you can ride bikes. Harrington House B&B would be romantic. You could do a week here for your budget. And AMI has not been affected by the gulf spill.

http://www.harringtonhouse.com/

Trish
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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If I were you, I'd ditch the flight part of your vacation and look into Bald Head Island which you could drive to.
The beach is beautiful!
Here, take a look...
http://www.baldheadisland.com/
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