Have you ever looked at other Trinis’ Instagram and Facebook travel photos and think “When would I ever go there?” Well broke Trinis can travel too!
Firstly, I want to clarify the difference between traveling and vacationing. For me, a vacation is staying in a resort and enjoying the comforts of a luxury hotel. On the other hand, traveling involves touring the country and getting a glimpse of the culture and people. I have vacationed and traveled and to be honest I prefer traveling any day!
My husband loves all-inclusive hotels and is a big fan of the Sandals franchise ever since our honeymoon. However, after spending tens of thousands of dollars for the honeymoon hotel, I haven’t seen much of St. Lucia. I was determined that my next vacation will have more traveling experiences. We’ve been to four Sandals resorts but they are really expensive, so we mix it up a bit. Also, I don’t like that all-inclusive hotels charge for excursions. On top of the exorbitant accommodation fees you must also pay to go out and see the country. That’s something that you can do yourself at a much lower price!
I’m using Barbados as the case study so you can see the numbers.
1. Plan trip during low season
Planning a trip during low season saves you money on flights and accommodation. The difference can add up to hundreds of dollars as hotels charge per night based on the season. Depending on where you want to go in the world, do some research and find out when is the off-peak season. Here is the price difference for a budget hotel in Barbados for Peak and Off-Peak times
Apr. 16 – Dec. 15 – $33 US per night, double occupancy (Low Season)
Dec. 16 – Apr. 15 – $55 US per night, double occupancy (High Season)
2. Book tickets online in advance
Some airlines offer ‘Web Saver’ tickets which are cheap, early-bird tickets that you must buy online. Liat is one airline that offers ‘Web Saver’ tickets but you must book early when they available.
Liat Ticket to Barbados (Regular) – $310 US
Liat Ticket to Barbados (Web saver) – $180 US
3. Look for a cheap place in the tourist area
There is budget accommodation in the tourist areas but you must look search it. Staying in a tourist area has its advantages because you have access to the restaurants, public transport and all the public amenities that big, expensive hotels have nearby.
Budget hotel: $33 US a night
Average 4 star hotel: $120 US a night
4. Do a meal plan
Creating a meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the days you are traveling makes it easier for you to take stock of what food you need to pack, and how much you should budget towards food. You can pack stuff from your pantry like Crix crackers, tuna, cereal, coffee, milk, tea etc which are easy to carry. Items that you can’t carry you can buy in the local supermarket. Do not go in the supermarket in the tourist area as the prices are marked up! Look for a supermarket in the town where the locals go instead! Make sure to budget money for trying the local cuisine. If you are on a strict budget, you can prepare your own breakfast and make some sandwiches for lunch and only buy dinner. Take-out and restaurants are expensive in tourist areas so be aware of the cost.
Food and drink budget per day (Full dinner, drinks during lunch): $30 US
5. Carry everything you need
Pack items that you will need such as sunglasses, sunscreen, medicine, headwear, snorkeling equipment and flotation devices because vendors know tourists need items like these and they inflate the prices. I remember being sick in St. Lucia after a boat ride and my husband had to buy a tiny bottle of Gravinate for $20 US for me!
6. Use Public Transport
Public Transport will be readily available from a tourist area to the places of interest and the towns. It is much cheaper than traveling by taxi. A bus ride to the airport in Barbados will cost you $2 BBDS whilst a taxi will charge you $40 BBDS. This is a great opportunity to interact with locals! Also, walking to places in the tourist area is fun, adventurous and good for your health.
Daily transport cost per person: $4 USD
7. Use credit card
It is very difficult to get foreign exchange in Trinidad so keep your foreign cash in hand to pay local vendors and use your card in any place that accepts them. Remember to pay your balance at the end of the billing cycle to get your cash back reward.
8. Educate yourself
The key to a great traveling experience is being educated about the place you are going to visit. Research! Research! Research! Read as many TripAdvisor reviews as you can and talk to locals about the cheapest excursions and the safest places in the country. Find prices of excursions online to create a realistic entertainment budget. Don’t be like a deer in headlights when you land. When you are ignorant and panicked you end up spending more money than you should.
9. Use saved money to see many places of interest
The point of traveling is to experience a new place and see its places of interest. This is where most of your money will go because economies built on tourism has high entrance fees for these sites. Compare excursion prices to get the best deal possible. In Barbados there is a lot of snorkeling you can do from the shore which eliminates the need for expensive boat trips. Look for places that are free to visit like beaches.
10. Stick to your budget
When you create a vacation budget be sure to stick with it. Budget for tickets, accommodation, food, excursions, transport and emergencies. Don’t max out your credit card in Duty Free shops or take expensive excursions that is not in your budget. Also, I find souvenirs very expensive and unnecessary. Your souvenirs should be your memories and photos!
Below is a simple budget for a couple for four days, three nights in Barbados:
Airfare $180 USD
Excursions $50 USD
Transport $16 USD
Food and Drinks $120 USD
Total $366 USD (Single)
Accommodation $99 USD (double occupancy)
No. Persons 2
No. Days 4
Total: $831 USD
I confirmed all these prices before I wrote this post. If you have any questions feel free to send me a message. Start saving for your next trip for as low as $15 USD or $100 TTD per week!