Traveling on a budget to exotic Caribbean locales can be tough, but it’s an endeavor worth pursuing. Once you manage to find your transportation to and accommodation in exotic cities like Montego Bay, Punta Cana, and Nassau or hop on cheap flights to Port of Spain, an entire world of adventure awaits discovery. AARP research has found that more than 50% of millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, and that means if you want to take a Caribbean trip, chances are you’ll have to make every dollar count. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget travel options and cheap flights to get you there, as well as countless ways to save on hotels and entertainment. But if you don’t avoid the following mistakes, your careful financial planning could all be for naught.
MISTAKE #1: Making Assumptions About Airline Baggage Policies
In general, you should always check your airline’s policies pertaining to check-in, seat selection, and in-flight offerings, as this can save you both time and money. But you should definitely pay attention to their rules regarding luggage. Every airline is different; some allow you to bring one personal item and a carry-on for no extra charge, while others will charge for everything but your purse or laptop bag. In some cases, you could be charged significantly more for carry-on or checked luggage if you wait to pay until you get to the airport. Knowing about applicable fees in advance will help you stick to a budget and will prevent unwelcome surprises when it’s time to check in.
MISTAKE #2: Picking a Hotel Based on Photos Alone
We’re living in the digital age, which means you’ve got tons of information right at your fingertips. While those incredible photos on a hotel’s website may look enticing, it’s possible they could be too good to be true. Before you actually make your hotel reservations, do some additional research on reputable review websites to get a better idea of what the accommodations are REALLY like. Otherwise, you could end up blowing quite a bit of cash on lodgings that don’t live up to your expectations.
MISTAKE #3: Being Inflexible with Travel Dates
No one can seem to agree on the best day or time to sit down at the computer and book your trip. But there are specific travel days and times to keep in mind. Traveling on Fridays and Sundays is usually tough on your wallet, since these tend to be quite popular. You’ll likely end up wasting a lot of time waiting in the security line, too. When you have the luxury of being able to be flexible with your travel dates, you may want to experiment and see how changing days on either end of your trip will impact the final price. You might be surprised by just how much you can save.
MISTAKE #4: Overpacking
This might sound like an obvious misstep that might just make it a little harder to navigate around the airport. But really, packing too much in your suitcase (particularly in your checked bag) could be a very costly error. Depending on your airline, an overweight bag could set you back up to $200! That will definitely eat into your budget travel plans once you actually arrive at your destination. To avoid this problem, try to coordinate the outfits you’re bringing so you can mix and match and go easy on heavy items like shoes and toiletries. When in doubt, put your bag on a bathroom scale and make sure it’s well below whatever your airline’s weight policy is.
Making any one of these major missteps could cause you to overspend. But another one of the biggest budget travel mistakes you can make is not comparing flight deals before you book. As long as you know to avoid these snafus, you’ll be able to travel in style and on a budget.