How to SAVE & Plan for a tropical getaway!

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Hey babes! I wanted to write up this post while Jamaica is still fresh in my mind. We've been to Jamaica 5 times and it never disappoints, there's something special about Jamaica, it's people and the lush and beautiful tropical island vibes. You can read more about our travels to Jamaica here in this post



One of the things I got asked the most during our recent visit was How do we budget & plan to travel so much, so often. I personally don't feel like we travel that much, not as much as I would like to honestly, and Nick is actually terrified to fly so I'm slowly getting him worked up to venturing to Greece and Italy one day soon. It's on the books for our 10 year anniversary after we take Little Nick to Canada as his graduation gift. (Yes Canada of all places is where he wants to go!) Mind you the kid has been to every tropical destination imaginable except Hawaii. 

Let me preface by saying our goal as young teen parents was always to work as hard as we could in our late teens, early 20's, so that when we hit 30, we'd be able to start traveling and seeing the world. I didn't get to travel as a kid but I had always dreamed about tropical destinations and dreamy cities full of history. Like every goal we set for ourselves, we knew we had to have a plan to make this a reality for us. I'm not saying these "Tips" that I have for traveling and planning your own trips are universal and will work for everyone. I know money is tight for a lot of families, I know what it's like to struggle to put food on the table every week and I know what it's like to have "just enough" to get by. But as a young teen parent growing up I knew I wanted more for myself. Nothing crazy, or extravagant, but just a simple life where we didn't have to struggle about paying electric bills and buying food, like I did so much of as a child. I wanted my kids to worry about being kids instead of dealing with adult stresses and struggles.



Okay so, enough rambling as Nick always says I do way too much, I can't help it, I'm a rambler! I'm going to keep this short & simple. Well, simple for me anyway. 



First off we stayed at the Sandals resort in Negril, Jamacia we alternate usually between Negril and Montego Bay but Sandals has several gorgeous resorts located in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. 



We've been to several other all inclusive resorts and several islands scattered throughout the Caribbean and for us, nothing compares to Sandals. All of their resorts are beautiful and for the most part small and compact. Despite that, they never feel "crowded", I seriously don't think we've waited in a line for anything, ever on any of our Sandals trips. Nothing compares to the service for us. From the time you land in Jamaica until the time you land back home, it's truly, no worries mon'. It's a very special experience that nothing has ever compared to for us. 


Tip #1- HOW TO SAVE FOR YOUR VACATION-
So you can be sippin' a red stripe on the beach mon'

I always book my trips myself, and usually direct through the resort website. Often you'll get an "internet" discount that you can't get by calling and booking. Sometimes when booking 7 or more nights, you'll get resort credits that can be used at the spa, or free tours like a catamaran cruise. We always book our vacations at least 6 months to 1 year in advance. So, for instance, I'm paying on a trip now for next March, and our trips for THIS YEAR are paid for already. Sandals requires you to put a $400 deposit on most bookings, however, sometimes, like RIGHT NOW, they're running a special and you can book your vacation for just $49 per person. This is great because it allows you to secure your trip but also, determine a "payment" plan of sorts for yourself. I divide up the cost of the trip into the remaining months I have to pay on it. So for instance, if I know I have to have a trip paid off by February 2019, that cost $3,500 I know that I need to put back $292 a month to have the trip paid for in time. I pay this payment like a bill each month. I make it a priority for us because IT IS a priority for US. I know every family is different. Even if we're having a month where money is super tight, I figure out how I can cut corners and save some money to get that "bill" paid each month. If it means no Starbucks, clipping coupons to save at the grocery store, I do it. Making your "Travel" a priority, will force you to treat it as such. 



Tip #2- FIGURE OUT YOUR BUDGET & FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR VACATION
Set a realistic budget for yourself, honestly, at all of the Sandals resorts we've been too, I didn't notice any "bad rooms" most of the Sandals resorts, like Negril where we stayed most of the resorts have been completely refurbished and updated. Also, since the resort itself its fairly small and compact, you'll always have a nice view, not always of the Ocean, but the grounds are beautifully landscaped and extra "tropical" We've been in the best rooms at the resort before and also at the lowest one, and while they are obviously different, they were both really fabulous. I set up a budget for our trips by figuring out what I want to gain from my vacation, If I know I'm planning a more laid back vacation, relaxing, I'll book a higher category room for less nights, because I'm a room person, I spend more time in my room, and on my balcony then most people do, so I know that I'd appreciate a nicer room, and sometimes we can only afford the nicer room and not more nights. If I'm going to have fun and go out and enjoy all of the entertainment and games the resort offers, a basic ocean view room will do me just fine. Most of those times, I'm able to afford an extra night or two because of the room cost.



Tip #3- BOOK ALL INCLUSIVE- 
BUT especially if it's your first time traveling. We love the all inclusive experience because we don't stress about money while we're vacationing. The restaurants are top notch and there is always a nice blend of foods, Negril for instance has a basic beach bistro that serves chili dogs, and cheeseburgers, and also a yummy pizza place that makes fresh pizza. Our favorite at Sandals Negril is Kimono's which is a Japanese steakhouse, we love it because the food is so good but you can't beat the fun experience! It's also nice to be able to just walk up to the bar and order whatever you want. (They will literally make you whatever you want!) Plus most rooms include a mini-bar and fully stocked fridge with sodas and waters. Sandals is super nice because all of the water sports are included at no extra cost- like kayaking, sailing and snorkeling. 



Tip #4- BUY AIRFARE ON YOUR OWN-

We always fly Southwest. Just because we like to earn points and because Nick is comfortable flying with them, Southwest isn't always the cheapest though. Do your research. Use a website like {kayak.com} to help you find the best flights at the best prices. In my experience, airfare is the absolute cheapest on the 3rd Tuesday of the month and primarily 60 days out from your trip. Remember if you do book via Southwest, you'll be reimbursed for any price decreases in your airfare. I've seen airfare fluctuate so this is a really great way to possibly save some money after booking your trip. 



Tip #5- BOOK IN ADVANCE-

As I mentioned before, I plan most of our trips at least a year in advance. Why? Well, number 1 it gives me time to save more money. and number 2, you'll lock in this years rates before a possible price increase. Booking in advance allows me to get almost everything at a discounted rate- airfare is usually cheap 180 days out from your travel date and then reaches its bottom out price 60 days prior, however if the flight is in high demand they could potentially increase the flight. I know, so stupid. Also, booking in advance and getting your room requests in EARLY will allow you to most likely get the exact room you've been wanting. 



Tip #6- JUST DO IT-
Okay ya'll- get your mind out of the gutter. ;) I mean, JUST PLAN IT. I was seriously so nervous about traveling 5 years ago, we had been to Florida but that was pretty much the extent of it. I was scared about going to another country, scared about leaving my babies, and just overall super anxious about my trip. I had never left Savanna overnight before and she was just a year old at the time. We booked 3 years in a row before I finally said- OKAY. LET'S JUST GO. and I haven't looked back since. After that first trip, I realized more than ever that I needed that time with my husband. I needed that time WITH MYSELF. I have been a Mom for almost 15 beautiful years and I absolutely love it and there is nothing I would change but you guys, us Mom's work hard. And we're so mentally exhausted all the time, it's so nice to get away and just BE YOU, for a few days. It keeps us learning, and keeps us fresh. These days, I don't worry so much about the details or the money, I find that booking it forces you to figure out ways to MAKE IT WORK. I'm warning you though, once you catch the travel bug and fall in love with new people and places, it's really hard to ground yourself again, and you'll be counting down the days until you return to paradise.

Want even more information about booking your own trip to paradise?  CLICK HERE! Currently Sandals is offering the following discounts-

Up to $1,000 booking credit 
One FREE night in select room catagorie's
Up to 65% off rack rates at select resorts
PLUS $100 resort photo shop credit at select resorts


Book online and get an extra $25 off.

You can also book at Beaches which is Sandals FAMILY resort by clicking here..


Shew! I know, so much information to take in, I am not a travel agent by the way. I just speak from experience! Send me a message or leave a comment below if you have a question that wasn't answered in my post! Can't wait to hear from you guys!!



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12 comments

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  2. I’ve only done sandals once and loved it! We cruise a lot though. There’s just something about island life!!

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  3. I love this blog post! Which room type were you in? It’s a bit overwhelming trying to decide!!

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  4. Hi Laurie! What all inclusive resorts do you take your kids to? If you haven't taken them yet what resorts do you think would be best? BTW we went to Sandals Montego Bay in 2016 and LOVED it! Cant wait until we get the oppurtunity to go back.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great information! I love the idea of booking a year in advance and giving yourself that time to pay it off before you even step on the plane! We honeymooned at Sandals Dunns River near Ocho Rios (which is unfortunately no longer a Sandals resort) and we LOVED Jamaica! Can't wait to go back!

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