Yep, back to my old tricks! I saw my friend and fellow blogger Dia mention that all-inclusive is not a good deal for a family. And so this post was born. I realize, all-inclusive and a middle-class family usually don’t go hand in hand. And that’s too bad, because it’s very much an achievable goal. I have 4 words for you: Caribbean in the summer. Specifically, Dominican Republic.
Summer is a slow season in that part of the world, due to hurricanes. But the real threat doesn’t really start till August, so as long as your vacation plans take place in June or July, you should be in the clear. And since kids are off school during those months, you’ll be flexible as to the flight times.
The best place to find deals on all-inclusive resorts is Cheap Caribbean. You can sign up for their newsletter and receive all the updates. They usually run a special on Cyber Monday with rock-bottom prices. But even if you don’t snag a deal then, there is usually a sale as the winter (the high season) winds down.
I have seen prices as low as $15 per person per day. So for a family of 4, you would be looking at $60 per night in a tropical location, with meals included. Now, that is what I call value! Even at $25 per person, it would still be a great deal. You can see some of the resorts HERE, though the current price may be higher than I quoted.
But what about the flights? You have several options. If you are willing to chance a hurricane, AAdvantage would be a good choice, since off-peak award prices during September 7 – November 14 are 25,000 miles roundtrip. Both spouses could get a Citi AAdvantage Visa with 50,000 miles sign-up bonus and have enough for 4 tickets from pretty much anywhere in the U.S.
Of course, the kids are in school during that time, so it probably would not work for most families. In this case, your best bet would be for each spouse to get a Chase BA Visa. It comes with 50,000 miles sign-up bonus after 2,000 spent in 3 months, $95 annual fee not waived (pays commission). As I’ve mentioned before, the award chart is distance based.
The connection will be through Miami, where it costs 15,000 miles roundtrip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The tax runs about a $100 per person, a bit steep. If you don’t live in Florida, you would have to tack on flights from your home airport, which would increase the award mileage requirement.
The nice thing about the Avios program is that you can copay if you are short on miles, but only on certain carriers and international destinations, which Punta Cana would qualify for. Your other option would be to watch for summer sales on tickets or check a discount carrier, like SPIRIT that flies to Santo Domingo airport.
Either way, I think it would be a tremendous value, paired up with rock-bottom summer hotel prices. Of course, there will be out-of-pocket expenses, but you would be getting an exotic vacation for the price of a road trip. Let’s say, both spouses get a Chase BA Visa and redeem the miles to go to the Dominican Republic. Here is how your main costs would stack up, assuming you’ll have enough miles for 4 roundtrip tickets:
1) $95 Chase British AirwaysVisa annual fee X 2 = $190
2) $100 tax X 4 = $400
3) $100 per day for an all-inclusive resort (assuming 25 dollars per person) X 4 nights = $400
The total comes up to $990 for 4 people. With some planning, most families should be able to save that amount in a year. And remember, your food would be taken care of. I have been trying to convince my husband to do it, but he is a fan of cruises, which BTW, also represent great value for a family. Oh, well. First world problems!
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