“Snowbirds on a budget”

Some people like skiing down a finely powdered ski slope, breathing in the cold fresh mountain air. 

Some people love skating on the majestic Ottawa Canal for miles, grabbing a beavertail and hot chocolate along the way.

Some can spend hours tobogganing down a steep hill, getting that 20 second rush of speed only to get to the bottom and climb back up to do it all over again.

What fun!

As for me, I do not like winter, I do not like it one bit.

Give me a beach and 80 degree sunshine and I’ll be happy as a clam.

Once January and February come rolling around it’s time to start thinking of somewhere south.

Finding a great place can be tricky. So far we’ve been lucky to find great places in the sun and usually get them at good prices. 

The first place I look when deciding on a trip are the reviews, usually found on TripAdvisor.

I try to avoid the 2 or 3 stars out of 5, those can be a little dicey, not always but you never want to get caught for a week in a roach infested hotel.

You usually notice a similar thread in all reviews. 

For example, if most reviews talk about how bad the food was or it’s poor cleanliness, that might be a red flag, you may want to rethink about spending your money on this type of place.

There’s also the reviews from people annoyed because the band didn’t play Oh Danny Boy or the soup was too cold. Too picky! So you have to read between the lines sometimes.

Of course everything is relative when it comes to what your expectations are and how much you’re willing to spend.

The more money you have, the easier it’ll be to find a place with all the bells and whistles. 

Sadly, I’m not one of these people and need to do a little research before committing to a sun destination.

A few tips that I found help may work for you and save you a few $$$ are:

How long do you want to go for? 

Like everything, deals can be found in bulk.

How far you live from a major airport. 

I live in Ottawa, sometimes you can find a great deal directly in and out of Ottawa but your choices and cost will be way better if you travel 90 minutes or so and take a flight out of Montreal.  The same vacation could cost hundreds less leaving from Montreal even taking into account the cost of parking your car.

Taking a packaged vacation or paying the airfare and hotel separately?

Depending on the rates the hotel is charging and the airfare cost, you can save a bundle, especially if you go for more than a week.  

What weekday are you leaving on?

The difference between a Monday or a Thursday can sometimes make a big difference and save you over $100+

What month are you going?

I try to avoid spring break, not only because of drunken, loud spring breakers. But because the cost of the trip is usually higher.

When are you planning on booking?

I start looking in October, many places have great deals for the upcoming winter. 

Here’s an example of a trip I just booked for February, whether we get to go on account of Covid is another matter.

I first looked at where I wanted to go, Mexico, Cuba, Domincan Republic…. You get the picture.

Then I looked for all inclusive package vacations in or around my budget.

After searching for a few days I found a nice looking place in Punta Cana, DR. called Occidental Caribe,

the reviews were pretty good, a 4 star complex and the reviews were 4.5 out of 5.

The cost of a 3 week trip through expedia was really high so I looked for pricing directly at the resort which seemed much better.

With that knowledge in hand I looked at flights. The best day to go was a Thursday and I was able to get a flight right out of Ottawa for $620CAD.

So here’s the break down and difference if you:

  • Book Early ( We booked in October)
  • Bypass the package deal and book hotel/airfare separately
  • Pick the cheapest weekday to fly
  • Stay longer than a week

Room Details

Hotel Information

Occidental Caribe

21 Nights

Room 1  Confirm #xxxxxxx

Ocean View Double Room

Room Price

$2,426.86US

Total vacation cost for 3 weeks, all inclusive (food, drinks, sports, entertainment…) for 2 people:

RESORT               $3,123 CAD

Flights  for 2          $1,240.00 CAD

TOTAL       $4,363 CAD for 2 people

If I book now at Expedia or other travel agency, the same package will cost:

Occidental Caribe – All Inclusive

Same place, same dates, same plane…..exact same trip.

So, for 2 people,

Expedia cost: $6,315

My way:           $4,363

You would save: $1,952 on your trip.

I’m not saying you’ll find deals like this all the time but if you’re budget conscious and are prepared to do a little investigating, you’ll have yourself a great getaway at a great cost.

BON VOYAGE!

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