Photo credit: @Cruise_Social

Photo credit: @Cruise_Social

We often think a tropical getaway is out of our financial reach.  That’s so not the case. There are a number of ways to enjoy a Caribbean vacation on a budget. With a little planning and these seven tips, you’ll have your toes in the sand and a rum drink in hand before you know it!

Low season travel: Sure, everyone likes to head to a warm climate during the cold winter months at home. However, traveling during low season (from mid-spring through the fall) can ease the strain on your wallet. Flights and hotel prices are typically at their lowest. Some people like to avoid hurricane season (from June through November), but if you’re headed to some of the southern islands, you’re less likely to be affected. Check out Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Grenada, Bonaire and Curacao.

Opt for different modes of transportation: Taxis aren’t the only way to get from point A to point B. Use public buses whenever you can. It’s a great way to meet the locals, too.

Port Antonio, Jamaica

Port Antonio, Jamaica

Eat local: Touristy restaurants can be pricey. Instead, go for some local street food. Authentic Caribbean often tastes like roadside jerk chicken or freshly prepared roti. Not sure where to go? Ask some of your seatmates on the public bus.

Stay in a villa: Renting a villa can save you money, provide privacy, and give you room to spread out. Other perks – not clamoring for lounge chairs at 6 am or being accosted by the resort’s activity team to do the Cupid Shuffle a zillionth time.

Eat in: Find a self-catering rental and fix a few meals yourself. Pack dry goods in your suitcase, and head to the grocery store when you hit the island. Resort restaurants can be expensive (unless you’re staying at an all-inclusive property). Just making one meal each day can save a couple over $200 during a seven-day stay.

Seek specials: If you travel during low season, you can pretty much have your pick of discounts.  Free extra nights, a percentage off when you stay a certain length, or free car rental are a few popular ways to save.

Photo by lvv@ldsenl, Creative Commons

Photo by lvv@ldsenl, Creative Commons

Consider a cruise: This is a perfect way to sample different islands. Plus, food and lodging are included in your price, which makes it easy to budget. Book between January and March when you’ll find deep discounts from cruise lines. Note: Those “drinks of the day” can really add up. If you plan to drink during your floating holiday, make sure you’ve figured that into your budget. Find more money saving cruise tips here.