If you are coming from the U.S., one of the best things about traveling to the Caribbean Islands is how close they really are in terms of travel time. For those of us living on the East Coast, it is ridiculously easy to be sitting on an Island Beach with a tropical drink the same afternoon you leave.
Connections through cities like Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, and even Orlando enable travelers to reach even the most Windward Caribbean Islands in a matter of hours. Miami International Airport is another excellent connection that has recently completed a major renovation of its central terminal and it is sweet! I always grab an authentic Cuban sandwich on the way to my next gate. Most flights departing from any one of these hubs will have you touching down on an exotic island by the time you finish watching a movie.
Another great reason to travel to the Caribbean is the price of airfare. There are several major carriers that provide service to a majority of these islands which means they compete for your business on these popular routes and that means better prices! A good site to check out is booking.com for great prices and deals that are available to take you to your destination of choice. One other thing that can affect prices to the West Indies is the time of year. Hurricanes are most likely to develop in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea starting in June and lasting until November. This is considered the “off season” for many of these island destinations, so airfares typically reflect the decrease in demand. I have always found this time of year to be a great opportunity with some good planning and a flexible schedule. I typically pick up some travel insurance as an extra precaution just in case there are weather-related disasters and things of that nature.
Now that you have scored that great deal on those tickets to the perfect Caribbean Island destination, you will be jetting off to your vacation spot in no time. Here is where you want to employ some strategy and tactics before you depart. Utilize technology to minimize your footprint and become a “high speed, low drag” traveler. Condense your baggage down as much as possible with as many space saving gadgets as you can find. My strategy is to avoid checking my bag at all costs since there is always the risk of not seeing it again for several days. You can typically manage to get a carry-on suitcase as well as smaller backpack on the plane with you. It is always worth jockeying in line to get an overhead bin so you always have a clean change of clothes on hand in case you ever get stuck somewhere. Divvy up your gear with some basic necessities in both bags. I like to keep my tech toys such as tablet, phone, glasses, etc. in my small bag so I can get to them easily during my flight. If you are taking some cash with you, be sure to tuck some away in each bag as well.
Seat selection is a well-established strategy on most flights. Even the airlines are in the game now, up charging for premium seat locations like the emergency exit rows. Window seats are always a good choice since you can crash out up against them and awake with view. I prefer the coveted aisle seat whenever possible. This “pole position” allows for easy egress and quick access to my overhead bag, if needed. On the occasion where the need to use the restroom becomes urgent, aisle seats allow you access without ever bothering a soul. You can always take turns in the middle seat if you are traveling next to your mate. On some of the smaller flights you may only have a couple seats on each side of the plane.
Travel to the Caribbean is hot right now. Many hotels on my radar to popular destinations like St. Thomas and Jamaica are selling out up to six months in advance now. My strategy is to find the location and get the hotel accommodation, then grab a cheap Caribbean flight on one of the airlines providing service there soon afterward. You always want to plan ahead. I recommend executing your plan about 4 – 6 months ahead of your travel date, whenever possible. During the off season you might be able to find some last minute deals if your dates are flexible enough. So buckle your seat belt and put your tray table up and prepare for takeoff to your next Caribbean Island.