More and more frequently, travelers are turning their heads away from vacations that don't include all expenses paid in advance of their arrival. Everyone seems to want an all-inclusive resort where their food, adult beverages and activities are included. There is no question to the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your credit card won't come back from vacation having been beaten and bruised. However, many of the most amazing properties in the Caribbean do not offer a pre-paid plan. With a good budget and an open mind, these can become as care-free as the all-inclusive resorts.
Generally speaking, destinations that don't have many all-inclusive opportunities are the safest ones. That isn't an invitation to walk down the darkest alleys in your designer shoes and tropical shirt to shoot pictures of unique doorways. All-inclusive resorts were created to entice timid travelers into places they may have had safety concerns about visiting. You know the drill. Everything a vacationer would need in one place without leaving the safety the gates provided from the unknown. Then, they could brag to their friends about having visited the exotic locale.
Although many all-inclusive resorts some wonderful dining opportunities, foodies must venture outside the gates to get a true taste of a destination. A trip to Jamaica is incomplete without a stop for a Red Stripe and jerk chicken at a roadside jerk pit. With over 400 restaurants on the 37 sq mile island of Saint Martin, wouldn't you feel silly eating that resort buffet?
Party people are drawn to the all-you-can-drink beverages offered by most all-inclusives. Having said that, please remember that your price may be based on the assumption that you are capable of throwing back as many drinks as the members of I Tappa Keg fraternity who are also on spring break. A moderate drinker won't likely use the value of the drinks at an all-inclusive resort. Wine drinkers will enjoy the wine festivals in The Caymans, Barbados and Cancun.
Most Caribbean destinations have a wonderful, rich history with tales of pirates, sugar mills and European fights for territorial rights. If you have an interest in the past or even the present, a resort stay can impede your
Did you know that you can travel for less or even free? Group travel is becoming a very popular way to travel because it not only offers a great opportunity to travel with like-minded people but because you, as a group leader, go for less.
Its easy to come up with a group. Groups don't have to be an organized club. It can be a group of neighbors, friends from church or soccer moms. Get creative and talk about your travel plans with others. Some of our best groups have come from the craziest mix of people. One cruise group had a couple of friends from church, a family from school, a co-worker and the group leader's retired aunt. The individuals had nothing in common but the group leader - and the group came back the following year for another cruise!
Ready to delve a little deeper than chit-chat? Call us with your ideas and let us find the best opportunity for your group. Once we have decided on a plan, we will create a special website just for your group. The website will answer any questions the other travelers may have and give them a place to provide the necessary information to become a part of your group. We handle everything from that point forward - itineraries, special needs, transportation arrangements, payments. You simply worry about your own plans.
One of the requests I get most often from clients who are looking for a vacation is that they want to go somewhere that is safe. I completely get it. I don't want to intentionally put myself or my family in a dangerous environment either, however I have found that the subject of safety is completely in the eye of the beholder.
I always tell my clients that they need to be aware of their surroundings no matter where they travel - the Caribbean, Europe and even the United States. Unfortunately, there are unsavory characters all over the world. Travelers should always take precautions such as leaving expensive items such as jewelry and designer bags at home and staying in areas that are highly populated. If you feel that your safety concerns will ruin your vacation, you may not enjoy international travel. Consider destinations with lower crime rates such as Canada or the United Kingdom.
Don't be fooled, however, that the United States is any safer than the Caribbean. New Orleans (57.88), Detroit (48) and St. Louis (35) have higher murder rates per capita than Puerto Rico (20), St. Lucia (16) and the Bahamas (22.4). What many people don't consider when looking at statistics like these is that there are minor non-violent crimes taking place all of the time, but they take place in every small town in America as well.
Mexico has been hard hit by the media these days in regard to crime. This translates into clients who call and say, "anywhere but Mexico cause its not safe." I traveled to Cancun this summer for a familiarization tour sponsored by Palace Resorts. I never felt unsafe. I know that the Mexican cities of concern regarding crime such as Juarez, Acapulco, Torreon, Chihuahua and Durango are all over a day's drive from Cancun. Comparatively speaking, it would be like avoiding Salt Lake City because of the high crime rate in New Orleans. New York City and Miami are closer than the Riviera Maya to the high crime areas. Mexico has so much to offer its visitors that I truly believe American tourists are the ones missing out on a jewel. The people are truly warm and welcoming, and the resorts have everything that you could possibly want while on vacation.
Here's just a few quick things to remember to lessen the possibilities of something happening to you:
Stay where the people are - Travel in numbers or only in areas with high volumes of traffic. Tourists who get too adventurous become prime targets to individuals with bad intentions.
Don't dress the part - Tourists who wear loud or obvious clothing draw attention to the fact that they are not from the area. By the same token, leave your designer purses and shoes stateside. Even if you only have one expensive accessory, it can put a target on your back that you have money or valuables that someone else may want.
Hide your total vacation net worth - Divide your cash into stacks so that you can pull a smaller amount out when paying vendors or drivers. Don't carry more than one credit card. Keep copies of your identification in your wallet rather than the actual documents.
Drink responsibly - If you choose to imbibe on vacation, drink moderately and always in good company. Never drink alone. Take turns being the designated navigator in your travel party. Don't ever leave someone drinking alone in a foreign place - no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise.
Map out your plan - Try to get a good idea of where you are going before leaving your hotel or cruise ship. Refrain from pulling out the wall-size map in the middle of a vacant alley. If you must use a map, get a small, hand-size map or a phone app so that you are not so obvious.
Jes limin' mon...
Would love to be able to say this to a passing neighbor if only it were true! Wouldn't we all? Island speak for "simply relaxing, my friend..."
That's what a vacation should be. You don't have to go to an exotic resort with monkeys hanging from the trees or spend 28 hours on a flight around the world. Many people can find peace of mind in their own backyard lying in a lounger with a good book. Regardless of where you go to lime, find some time to do it.
Studies show we all need a break every now and then to relax and free our mind of the stresses caused by that overdue project or crying baby. We can all do our jobs more efficiently if we will find a way to lime from time to time.
So lime, baby.... jes lime!