Caribbean Travel Tips
Planning a trip to the Caribbean can seem daunting when you have a big family, but there are ways to make it easier — and cheaper. Consider these travel tips to plan a seamless Caribbean vacation everyone in your crew will love.
Consider a Caribbean Cruise
A Caribbean cruise is a great way to see more than one destination (including private islands) on a single trip. Caribbean cruises can also be very cost-effective for big families since they include nearly unlimited food and entertainment options along with your lodging for one low price.
Book a "Family Cabin"
Note that some cruise lines have family cabins that can sleep families with more than two kids. Most of the time, these family cabins consist of two connected rooms or a larger suite with separate living areas for up to 10 people.
Drive to the Cruise Port
Big families can save big money by skipping the cost of airfare and driving to the cruise port instead. This is even true after you consider the cost of gas and parking. Remember that average domestic airfare to a cruise port town can easily cost $300 per person or more.
Book an All-Inclusive Resort
All-inclusive resorts can be insanely convenient for families since they include all your food, all your drinks, your entertainment and more for a single price. The Caribbean is also full of all-inclusive resorts at all price points, so it’s an easy choice when you have kids in tow.
Earn Airline Miles
If you’re going to fly your big brood to the Caribbean, earning airline miles can help. With at least some airline miles to work with, you may be able to cover a few to destinations in the Caribbean or to your cruise port.
Sign Up for an Airline Credit Card
Airline credit cards can help you earn a rush of miles right away. Some of the top airline cards even give you 50,000 miles or more if you can spend a few thousand dollars within a few months, and that can be enough for a few round-trip economy flights to the Caribbean.
Fly Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is frequently named as the top airline for families, mostly due to its flexible cancellation/rebooking policies and the fact you get two free checked bags. Fortunately, Southwest flies to many Caribbean destinations including Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and more.
Consider Booking a Condo or Vacation Villa
Booking a condo or vacation villa is a good idea any time, but it’s especially smart when you have several kids. A vacation condo will give everyone space to spread out, and your kids can each have their own rooms. To find the best rental villas in the Caribbean, try Airbnb.com or VRBO.com.
Book a Resort with "Condo-Style" Rooms
If you don’t want the full-on Airbnb experience, you can also keep an eye out for resorts that have rooms with full kitchens. At Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, for example, you can book resort accommodations with up to four bedrooms, giant balconies, and a full kitchen to cook in.
Make Your Own Meals and Snacks
What’s the point of having a kitchen on vacation? Since food is often the biggest travel budget killer outside of airfare and hotels, you can save big by cooking your own meals. Even cooking breakfast or breakfast and lunch in your condo can lead to huge savings, and you can still go out to dinner each night.
Pick Up a Flexible Travel Credit Card (or Two)
Travel credit cards can help you save money on the big components of your Caribbean trip, whether that includes airfare, rental cars, hotels or condo rentals. Consider flexible travel credit cards first and foremost since they let you redeem points for almost any type of travel expense.
Book Nonstop Flight...If You Can
If possible, consider booking nonstop flights for your Caribbean trip. Traveling with kids is stressful enough, but you don’t need the drama involved in having multiple or lengthy layovers. It can even be worth it to drive a few hours to an airport that lets you get to your Caribbean destination without any breaks.
Consider Whether You Want to Drive
Some Caribbean destinations are considerably safer, making them a better option if you want to get out in a rental car. If your goal is exploration, consider Caribbean destinations like Anguilla, Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Antigua, Aruba, and Curacao.
Travel Off-Peak to Save Big
The Caribbean can be considerably cheaper to visit outside of peak travel season, which is during winter months. Book a trip to the Caribbean from May to November and you’ll see big discounts on everything from hotels and condos to flights.
Buy Travel Insurance
If you do plan to visit the Caribbean during off-peak season, make sure to check out travel insurance plans. June through November is hurricane season in this area of the world, so you’ll want to be covered if your trip must be canceled or interrupted due to inclement weather.
Consider Multiple Destinations
Also, remember that there are many different destinations in the Caribbean and that their offerings and pricing can vary quite a bit. Some islands like Anguilla and Providenciales are quieter and more upscale, while other destinations have more of a family vibe. Consider more than one option to find the amenities and lodging your family would enjoy the most.
Don't Forget About Mexico
If your goal is a Caribbean vacation, also check out all that Mexico has to offer. The Riviera Maya region of the country sits along the Caribbean Sea with plenty to enjoy in terms of resorts, culture and gorgeous white sand beaches. Flights to Mexico are often inexpensive and plentiful as well, so make sure to compare.
Look Closely at Costa Rica, Too
Finally, there’s a good reason Costa Rica has become a popular destination for families seeking a tropical break. This country boasts a beautiful coastline along the Caribbean Sea plus lush mountains, animals galore, outdoor activities, and a unique culture that’s much different than you’ll find elsewhere in the Caribbean. Take your family to Costa Rica, and you won’t regret it.