Tropics on the cheap?
November 8, 2007 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Where can I go with the stipulations and budget that I have?

I will be available to travel from Dec. 9 to Dec. 22 and/or Dec. 28 to Jan 6. I would like to go somewhere warm, as winter now has a firm grasp on home. I have some parameters I have to work within:

1. I can only take a Delta flight that costs under $450 (I have vouchers) or not much over. I know the airline sucks, but that's all I have to work with.
2. I can maybe spend $800-$1000 total for the whole trip (excluding flight).
3. I would like to go for a the longest break possible within one of my two time frames.
4. I have no problems staying in a hostel or homestay situation, but it MUST be safe, as I will be a young female traveling alone.
5. I would like beach and sand and beauty and calm, with culture as well. No frat-tastic party cruise stop-over towns, please.
6. I would need to fly out of RDU, CLT, or ATL.
7. I prefer to be out of the lower 48 states. No Florida please.

I am not asking you to be my travel agent. I'm having trouble searching for flexible dates AS WELL AS flexible locations while not being able to be flexible with my airline. I have looked at Kayak Buzz which was not helpful, as I cannot search for these things under one airline. I have also looked at STA (student travel), which was not helpful. I perused Delta's website, but I have to search dates and locations.

Is there a better place or way to search for these things? Do I need a travel agent? Do you have any specific suggestions? General ones?

Please do not suggest using a different airline. I would not be going if it weren't for the fact that I have vouchers in the first place.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!
posted by greta simone to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you need a travel agent.
posted by moosedogtoo at 8:11 AM on November 8, 2007

Ask in the Delta forum in Flyertalk, there are people who may have been following specific deals. Also, Delta just doesn't fly that many places. Just start going through the route map and checking on prices. I doubt a travel agent would help much, really.
posted by grouse at 8:30 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

RDU or CLT to Puerto Plata (POP) in the Dominican Republic (price Dec 9-22 $288 - do a flexible dates search with Delta). Once you're there, you take the bus to a village called Cabarete (with a nice beach, surfing, wind-surfing, horseriding and generally a young European crowd -- warning, there's not much to do other than the beach and the mentioned activities). The bus takes about 25 minutes. For accomodations, I recommend Hotel Kaoba - clean, nice and cheap (from $37 per night). Now, in terms of weather, it's hot and a bit rainy right now, but should be much better in mid-December.
posted by barrakuda at 8:35 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Here is Kayak's list of deals from RDU to the Carribiean for under $450. You can't narrow the search to specific airlines, but there are plenty of Delta flights to somewhere sunny in the mix.

Feel free to adjust the departure location to get other results.
posted by nitsuj at 8:40 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

by the way, Cabarete is pretty sleepy as a village, definitely not a frat-party destination and from my experience it was very safe. the meals were quite expensive for such a town, you should budget about $30-40/day. also, I wanted to let you know that I came back from that place with a smile on my face, a smile which didn't leave for at least a month and a half.
posted by barrakuda at 8:42 AM on November 8, 2007

other places you could go to (although I haven't been to and cannot personally recommend) per Delta's prices:

RDU to Aruba (Dec.9-20) for $423
ATL to Barbados (Dec.9-22) for $468
CLT to Belize (Dec.9-22) for $508
CLT to Bermuda (Dec.9-19) for $338
CLT to Grand Cayman Islands (Dec.9-22) for $274

These are just a few flights I did with my search (now you have to do yours)

I'm sure there's also plenty of cheap flights to Mexico (and no it doesn't have to be a frat party, check out Tulum and Playa del Carmen). Oh, and have fun.
posted by barrakuda at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2007

If you're a student (and can get an ISIC card), call Travel Cuts. They're not as well known as STA but IMO much much better service. If you have a few places in mind, call them with your two dates and they'll help you find something relatively cheap.
posted by barnone at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

And yes, I seriously mean call - their website sucks.
posted by barnone at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2007

I just went to Guatemala and LOVED it. Other than the airline thing, I had all the same requirements as you and it was great. (I'm a woman travelling alone; I don't mind hostels; I wanted an interesting foreign culture, relaxation, and things to see.)

According to Kayak, Delta does fly there from RDU. When i went, I stayed in 'private rooms with bathroom' in hostels, took tourist-class buses, ate in decent mid-range restaurants and still spent only about 35 or 30 bucks a day. The country is beautiful and interesting and safe and easy to travel. (Can you tell I loved it??)
posted by Kololo at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wasn't going to suggest Guatemala because there aren't really beaches, but there is Lake Atitlan, which Paul Theroux called the most beautiful lake in the world (and he should know!) and which I definitely found to be the most relaxing place.
posted by lunasol at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2007

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