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Never traveled before... planning winter trip. Need advice

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Mar 11th, 2008, 03:49 PM
  #1
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Never traveled before... planning winter trip. Need advice

Hello,

Me and my girlfriend have decided we'd like to go to DR for a week in late december/early january (university students, can't book early december and miss an exam).

We don't really know much about DR, so we are at a standstill for vacation planning. Are some areas better than others? We are looking for a nice relaxing place, with a decent all-inclusive plan . We are looking forward to spending lots of time on the beach, but we also want somewhere that has activities for us to do (things we can't do at a lake here in canada). Our limit is $1500 each as part of a hotel/flight package.

Is that even possible at that time of year? Are we better off waiting til the last minute, or will there be nothing left? We don't require extremely elegant fine dining, but I would prefer something included in the AI that isn't just a greasy buffet (if that's what the buffets are like, I've never traveled.. have heard they can get gross after eating there a couple days)

So... any tips at all would be welcome. As I've said, never really traveled before... thanks!
Raspeh is offline  
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Mar 11th, 2008, 03:52 PM
  #2
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One more question... we have gone to some vacation sites, and there really isn't much available for something leaving in the last 2 weeks of December.

Is this because they are selling fast, or they are not posted yet?
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:13 PM
  #3
 
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While the Dominican Republic is generally considered one of the more moderately priced destinations in the Caribbean the last two weeks in December and the first two weeks in January is "ultra high season" so you are going to find the highest prices of the year. That will hold true no matter what island you visit.

It's possible your budget might be a bit on the low side but that shouldn't stop you from looking.

I don't know what travel sites you are looking at so it's difficult to tell you why you are having trouble finding rate quotes. One thing you should know is the period surrounding Christmas & New Years is a very popular time and many resorts are booked a year or more in advance. That said, it is still relatively early in the year so if you are prepared to act quickly you may be able to find accomodations for your planned dates of travel. Many resorts will have 10 day to 2 week minimum stay requirements at that time of year so that may limit your choices. Airfares too are oten high at that time of year.

Since you are looking for a "package deal" you might have luck checking with the "Vacation Travel" at your airline of choice. Quite often they have attractive deals. Another suggestion would be to check with a few Travel agents in your area as they often have access to package deals.

Lastly, do a google search for "All Inclusive resorts, Dominican Republic" and you should find links to numerous hotels. Browse through the sites to get some idea of room rates.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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No, it isn't really practical or possible to travel over Christmas vacation to the Caribbean for that kind of budget. This is the most expensive time of the entire year in the Caribbean, when prices double and when many hotels have minimum stay requirements. If you want to go the first week of January (AFTER the first Sunday in January), then you very well might find something in your price range. The period between New Year's and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend is a pretty quiet time, and you can often find a deal.

For you, the best destination might be Cuba, but I don't know much about prices from Canada, especially at Christmas.

The Bahamas can also be cheaper right AFTER Christmas, but you need to be aware that while it's much warmer there than in Canada, it's still cool since the Bahamas aren't in the Caribbean.

A real possibility might be a cruise. That you might be able to get for your price point. Just be aware that the base price of a cruise is not all-inclusive (no drinks, no excursions, not all food even), and you can't bring your own alcohol on a ship.

It will not be any cheaper if you wait until the last minute. In fact, I'm guessing that prices will be going up between now and Christmas because of higher fuel prices.
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Mar 12th, 2008, 06:06 AM
  #5
 
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I should probably have added that you can probably do your trip if you can find a cheap airfare if you are willing to go to a NON all-inclusive hotel. There are many cheap inns, some for under $100 a night, all over the Caribbean on many different islands. Most are not on the beach, but even at Christmas, you might be able to find something affordable if you are willing to do a little of your own cooking, eat at local instead of tourist restaurants, and just chill out. Alcohol is cheap throughout most of the Caribbean, so the insistence on an AI (especially when you have a limited budget) is unrealistic. You will definitely end up in an all-buffet resort for that kind of price.

Take a look at Cabarete in the DR. This is the destination of choice for many backpackers, and there are some good values there (some of them Canadian-owned).
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Mar 12th, 2008, 06:25 AM
  #6
 
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If you're close to either Montreal or Toronto, look into San Andres, Colombia. Beautiful island, beautiful beaches and cheap. The Decameron resort chain has five properties on the island. I don't personally care for all-inclusives, but lots of Canadians go there and are very happy. These are not four or five star resorts, but they're pretty nice.

Google 'Big Juice', it's a message board devoted to San Andres. If you're in western Canada, this won't be an option.
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Mar 12th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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Also Margarita Island, Venezuela. I always forget about the AIs that do not often draw Americans.
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