I’m Challenging the Deal Mommy!

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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6 thoughts on “I’m Challenging the Deal Mommy!

  1. I heard that Southwest is going to start flying to Punta Cana in October…I’m hoping their rates are low so we could get there on miles someday! We have never done an all-inclusive resort, but they are appealing to me.

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  2. @Shoesinks Yes, it’s mostly due to merger with AirTran, which already has flights to Punta Cana from Baltimore (BWI). The tickets are a bit expensive when I checked, though. They may add more flights in the future.
    Usually, there is a sale for routes to Caribbean in May on most airlines, so keep an eye on it. It may be better than redeeming miles, especially if it’s on Spirit. I would love to try an all-inclusive in Dominican Republic at some point. Hard to beat those summer prices!

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  3. Many Caribbean destinations can be uncomfortably hot in the summer, which is another reason for the deals. Is there something special about the Dominican Republic (favorable trade winds?) that mitigates this problem? I don’t have a lot of experience traveling to this area of the world during summer, but was once in Puerto Rico at the end of May and you could almost wring water out of your shirt after walking outside during the afternoon.

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  4. Erik, thanks so much for stopping by! In my experience, Caribbean is hot all year, no matter when you visit. We’ve been there in the summer and winter, and the comfort level difference is marginal. The only exception is Bahamas, which does get a bit cooler in January and February.
    I haven’t personally been to Dominican Republic, but I’m sure it gets very hot. There are some high mountains there, though most of the resorts are located by the beach. I live in Florida, and the summer is awful here, extremely humid. I can’t imagine, Dominican Republic would be worse. For me, as long as the room and the restaurants are air-conditioned, I would have no problem.
    However, it’s not for everyone. I wouldn’t base my decision on the season, though, when it comes to most islands in the Caribbean.

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  5. Pingback: Free money, free movies, and Frequent Traveler University – Personal Finance Digest

  6. Pingback: Challenging My Own Advice: Putting All-Inclusive to the Test -

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