Wow. Can you believe the summer will be here soon? Two years ago we took a 10-day family vacation to the Southern Caribbean and I could easily go back. Wait, wait, wait!! That sounds expensive. You might think we just went in a massive debt hole but we didn’t. I love to save money AND I love to travel. Usually, you can’t have both but I make it work.
Fort Lauderdale to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cruise. San Juan, Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale.
I know an eye roll just happened when you read the cruise and airline companies. My husband’s first impression was dollar signs. However, our total trip was relatively cheap.
Cruises are fun. The accommodations, food, beverages (non-alcoholic), entertainment, childcare, and “fun” are covered. The key to our vacation was hitting up the OFF SEASON. The cruise we took costs roughly $1,300 a PERSON in the on-season (for our family ocean view room). Luckily Marty’s crazy work schedule fit in with a few off seasons in the cruise world. We ended up getting on this itinerary for $600 per person (for the first two) with the kids being about $400 each (3 kids).
Food was covered in the cost of the cruise so we utilized it very well. Snack foods and water from the ship were packed into our bags when we left the boat and toured each island. The kids loved munching on Cheerios, fruit loops, etc. Amazingly we planned each port stop accordingly and were able to see everything we wanted without having to buy food. Once we were back on the ship we would grab a quick snack, clean up and go to dinner. Cha-Ching.
Transportation was tricky. Most of the people at the ports are hustlers but I am a pretty good hustler myself. I refuse to take anyone’s nonsense and their overpricing. One day we took the public transportation (i.e. the bus) to another part of the island for $2. TWO DOLLARS! The “hustlers” wanted $60. Cha-Ching.
Airfare was another score. For all of us to go from Fort Lauderdale to San Juan, Puerto Rico (where we left from) cost $917 ROUNDTRIP with taxes and baggage. Yep. 5 people for $917. Since I don’t live in Florida, we did have to drive but we do that drive multiple times per year and it only cost us 2 fill-ups in my car. Why not leave from home? It would have cost us an extra $1,000 to leave from our home. The gasoline only added $125 to the budget (and that was because it was almost $4 a gallon in South Florida at the time). Cha-Ching.
Hotel stays were minimal. One stay was the night before we left on our cruise. We drove to Fort Lauderdale after school let out so we weren’t pushing it to get down there. Murphy’s Law happens a lot to us so we didn’t want to chance it. That Marriott was $84. The 2nd stay was when we returned from our trip. Since our cruise port was San Juan, we wanted to stay an extra day and explore. That hotel was free because I used my Marriott Rewards for a complimentary night. Cha-Ching.
How much did I spend on junk? NONE. We don’t “shop” on cruise ships because it is overpriced and we rarely buy from any cruise port or town we go to. Why? It isn’t needed. I take wonderful photos and I enjoy my vacation with the kids. I may or may not have shells from various islands. SSHHH
How do you save money on vacations?