Tips for finding the cheapest all-inclusive vacations

By BootsnAll | February 19th, 2009

AllinclusiveMore people are choosing to book at an all-inclusive resort these days, because there is something almost magical about checking into a tropical paradise and then pretty much never having to open your wallet again. The freedom to do exactly what you want without having to worry about paying for each little thing can make for a relaxing vacation like none other. Of course, these resorts are not all the same, so if you want to find the cheapest resort that is suited to you it’s important to pay close attention to the details.

Finding the absolute cheapest all-inclusive vacations

If your budget is thin and you want to try this style of vacation out, you might want to know how to book one of these vacations for the lowest possible price. Here are a few tips for budget-conscious vacationers:

Start looking at the last-minute vacation deals
The expression last minute  really means something you can book perhaps 1 to 4 weeks in advance, so it’s not like you have to pack your bags before you lock one in. There is always a list of these last minute  specials, and always many resorts from which to choose. If you follow the listings from week to week you’ll find some places are almost always listed, while others only pop up occasionally. If you have a week off coming up, you’ll be ready to book as long as you’ve been following what’s out there for a while. These can be excellent deals in many cases, although you can’t assume that just because it’s listed as a last-minute bargain that it’s truly being offered at a discount.

Fall is the cheapest time of year, especially in the Caribbean
Perhaps the best way to get an incredible place for the least money is to schedule your vacation for September or October. This is the end of the so-called hurricane season, which is one of the reasons these places have to offer such great prices to fill their rooms. As you may know, hurricanes almost never hit the west coast of Mexico or Central America, and even those that do come through the Caribbean are on the radar a week or more in advance. The chances of you booking a vacation at a specific place in September or October, and then having a big storm actually hit that place are probably around 1% or less. And even if it happens, they know well in advance, and will evacuate guests in plenty of time, so the only danger is missing out on part of your trip.

The upside for taking this small risk is you can often save 50% or more from the price that people paid a couple months before or after. A place that might normally charge $300 per night per couple could be as low as $125 per night, so you get 4-star luxury and all your food and activities for only a bit more than you’d pay for a motel room just outside of a large city in the United States. The month of November also tends to be cheap, and the hurricane season is over by then as well.

Look for the closer places
If you are on the East Coast, your best bets will be the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Dominican Republic. On the West Coast your most affordable choices are Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Since you usually save the most money by combining airfare into the deal, you can usually get the cheapest overall deals by choosing a place that’s cheap to fly to. One of the reasons vacations in places like St. Maarten, St. Croix, and Tahiti are expensive is the flights themselves can cost a fortune.

Consider Central America in the high season
This is sort of the opposite of the tip just above, but during peak times of the year, namely from Christmas through April, you can often find better deals by going a bit farther south. There are all-inclusive resorts in Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama on the Caribbean, and all down Central America on the Pacific. The flight will cost a bit more, but many very nice resorts in that region are similar to, but half the price of, the more famous resort areas just a bit north.

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