The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel.com’s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
Spicegirl118 writes, “Thanks for the listing of deals! I am looking to plan a VERY inexpensive trip for two anywhere that costs $1,000 to $1,200 or less. We are coming up on our one-year anniversary and I wanted to do something special. My beau has not traveled as [much] domestically as I have, nor has he traveled internationally. I would like to go somewhere on a beach, definitely where the weather is warm. Our dates are June 5 through 7, and we can depart on the evening of the 4th if necessary. Please let me know if you come up with any ideas, because he will be more than appreciative. Please send me any suggestions, and keep in mind that I want to find something inexpensive, I even considered Vegas, because he has never been there. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!”
As I stare out the window at the snow-covered Boston ground outside, nothing could make me happier than writing about a sunny beach getaway. And I have got two great picks for you to celebrate on a sandy beach well within your budget!
It may not be international, per se, but Puerto Rico provides an affordable alternative to the high prices of flying out of the states. Plus, you don’t need a passport to travel there. I priced vacation packages through CheapCaribbean.com starting at $536 per person (without taxes and fees), or $1,072 for two people, which includes round-trip airfare from New York City and lodging at a resort on the beach in the Rio Grande area.
If you’d prefer to plan everything on your own, you can opt to book these items individually. Departing on June 4, a Thursday, will generally yield cheaper fares than a June 5 departure, which falls on one of the busiest (read: highest demand) travel days of the week (Friday). Keep this in mind when searching for fares.
I priced round-trip airfare from New York from June 4 through 7 starting at $253 (with taxes and fees) per person. This means that you will spend $506 on transportation, leaving you with up to $700 for lodging and food. There are several different regions in Puerto Rico to choose from, but Porta del Sol and the East Coast region are two great options for beach vacations. You’re likely to find mammoth resorts and large hotels in the east, which may mean good deals—albeit with a more touristy vibe. I was able to find hotels in this area starting at $75 per night. You would spend a total of $731 for the both of you if you decided to go this route.
If, however, you want to skip the eight-hour plane ride and stick a bit closer to home, Anna Maria Island in Florida may be just the ticket. Located about an hour’s drive from Tampa, and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, the island is a beach-lover’s dream. Flights to Tampa from New York City for your dates start at $249 (with taxes and fees) per person or $500 for two. A rental car through a company like Avis starts at about $133 (with taxes and fees) for three days, and may be a cheaper option than paying for a shuttle for two people. Plus, it can give you a bit of freedom to explore at your own pace. Accommodations on the island start at $48 for a chain hotel, but you can choose to pay more at a condo resort such as the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort, where rates start at $150 per night. If you chose the latter, this would bring your total to $1,083 for airfare, lodging, and transportation.
I have no doubt that one of these options will make your anniversary an unforgettable occasion.
As for my other readers, I ask you to share any and all tips you may have on the either of these destinations, or please feel free to add your own suggestions of the best beach getaways.
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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.