If you dream of vacationing with your family at a Caribbean or Mexico resort but are put off by high prices, consider booking an off-peak stay in the late spring, summer, or fall. Because fewer travelers visit the islands and coastal Mexico during the warmer months when tropical storms tend to occur, resorts and vacation providers often offer deep discounts.
Read on to find out how you can save with off-peak travel and avoid having your vacation ruined by a hurricane.
Your biggest savings opportunity on an off-peak trip will likely be accommodation costs. When occupancy rates drop off after spring break and Easter, many hotels and resorts slash rates and offer special promotions to attract more guests. By taking advantage of these off-peak deals, you can easily save $100 or more per night, particularly at all-inclusive resorts.
To illustrate the price differences between peak and off-peak stays, here’s a comparison of per-night rates for a family of four (with children under 12) at three all-inclusive resorts:
|Resort||Off-peak rates||Peak rates|
|Avalon Grand Cancun, Mexico||$206 to $400 (April 5 to December 23)||$262 to $420 (January 4 to April 4)|
|St. James’s Club, St. Lucia||$470 to $520 (April 3 to December 20)||$570 to $620 (January 3 to April 2)|
|Casa de Campo||$676 to $886 (March 28 to December 20)||$894 to $1,204 (January 4 to March 27)|
Rates are based on stays in double rooms. All-inclusive offerings vary by resort, but all-inclusive rates usually cover accommodations, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages, land and non-motorized water sports, entertainment, activities for kids and adults, and taxes and gratuities.
Besides off-peak rates, many family-friendly resorts also promote additional deals such as free nights, free stays and meals for kids, and single parent discounts. Popular family resort chains offering worthwhile deals for spring, summer, and fall stays at the time of publication include Beaches, Breezes, Club Med, Elite Island Resorts, and Occidental. You can also find resort specials in a particular destination by visiting its official tourism bureau website.
Airfare to the Caribbean and Mexico doesn’t vary seasonally as much as hotel rates, but you may be able to snag a good deal if you start shopping around several months in advance. One way to save is to book a vacation package that bundles discounted airfare and accommodations together. By offering airfare and hotel under one price, travel providers do not have to reveal the exact cost of each element and therefore can offer bigger, unpublished discounts on airfare.
For deeply discounted family packages to the Caribbean and Mexico this off-season, take a look at a FunJet Vacations and United Vacations. Also browse the sites of vacation providers that tend to have affordable Caribbean and Mexico packages including Liberty Travel and CheapCaribbean.com.
Tropical storms are a valid concern with off-peak Caribbean and Mexico trips, but you can minimize the risk by avoiding travel during the most hurricane-prone months or traveling outside the hurricane belt altogether.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, the Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, but the vast majority of storms occur from August to October, with September being the peak month. While there’s no guarantee that an off-peak trip outside the August through October time frame will be hurricane free, your chances of being caught in a storm are small. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to buy trip insurance or be informed about your rights should you encounter inclement weather while traveling.
You can avoid hurricanes altogether by visiting the Caribbean islands that are south of the hurricane belt—Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. These three Dutch islands have good weather year-round, but prices for travel are lower in the summer and fall due to lower visitation levels.
By planning your vacation strategically—combining the right destination with the right time to go and the right deal—you can enjoy off-peak savings and great weather. Better yet, your kids will have bragging rights at school next fall about who had the coolest summer vacation.