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Trips to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America are pretty cheap this time of year, what with June to November being Atlantic hurricane season. If you can’t resist a great deal, you can still snag a bargain vacation and reduce your odds of getting hurricaned on. Just follow these tips.

Related: Luxury for less: How to get a cheap Mexico vacation

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1) Avoid hurricane hot spots. While there are no guarantees in life, some destinations are more hurricane-prone than others. To avoid islands outside of the so-called hurricane belt, focus on the southern Caribbean and remember your ABCs—ArubaBonaire and Curaçao are generally safer bets for avoiding a direct hit.

2) Book last-minute. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If your schedule is flexible, then check the extended weather forecast and book your trip when the coast is clear—literally. The CheapTickets Last-Minute Flight and Travel Deals page can help you find bargains in a hurry.

3) Get the insurance. You’re already saving a bundle by vacationing during the off-season. Do yourself a favor and buy travel insurance. Packages generally cost between 5 and 10 percent of the value of your trip; insurance on, say, a $1,500 trip would cost around$150. Make sure your policy includes “trip cancellation and interruption,” and check to see if your credit card company automatically includes insurance on trips you’ve paid for with the card.

4) Fly smart. If possible, book a direct flight and avoid checking your luggage to avoid needless hassles like missed connections and lost luggage.

5) Be an airport ace. When flights get cancelled, airports turn into an episode of Survivor. Stay one step ahead of your fellow passengers by arriving the your gate early and hanging out near the kiosk so you can hear updates and get your name on the list for food and hotel vouchers, should they be offered. Share your contact info with the gate agent, and keep your cell phone charged so you’ll be accessible to the airline and. Also download the FlightStats app so you can see when seats become available.

6) Document everything. If you find yourself stranded, hold onto your receipts for food, cab rides, hotel rooms and other expenses so you can be reimbursed by your insurance company. Use an app like TinyScan to limit the paperwork.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Cruise, Jamaica, Mexico

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warm beach chair

It’s cold outside. Unbearably cold, really. So cold there’s no other option than to migrate south, to a place so perfectly tropical it makes you warmer just thinking about it.

All-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean have made it easy even for those of us still a little cash strapped from Christmas spending to find affordable getaways. And with the packages they offer – which often include airfare and a three- or four-night stay – getting time off work shouldn’t be much of a barrier.

Check out our list of five affordable and blissfully warm all-inclusive getaways, but first, here are a few tips to remember before you book:

1. Check around when picking your travel dates and see if the resorts are offering any promotions that could save you some cash. CheapTickets offers a new promo code for hotel discounts every week.

2. Book your reservations and flight at the same time for an even better deal.

3. Factor some extra excursions into your budget. Although some packages do include tours of the area, some excursions you might regret missing out on cost a little extra.

4. Double check which drinks are free and which are included. Typically, you have to pay extra for the more high-end alcoholic beverages.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

Sunrise in Punta Cana. Courtesy of Sasvata (Shash) Chatterjee.

Sunrise in Punta Cana. Courtesy of Sasvata (Shash) Chatterjee.

On the eastern-most point of the Dominican Republic lies Punta Cana. There, the sea breeze rustles the leaves of the long skinny palms, which reach out high and far over the Caribbean. It’s an oasis of resorts surrounded by the rich culture of the Dominican Republic, and packages at the all-inclusive Majestic Elegance Punta Cana incorporate both aspects of the area. Adventurers can explore nearby semi-deserted islands, visit the historic city of Santo Domingo or traverse the several natural parks that are close by. If venturing out isn’t your thing, there’s really no reason to have to leave the resort. There are six restaurants, nine bars and 24-hour room services. There are rooftop bars with panoramic views of the beach and cabanas to escape under if the sun gets too hot. The resort hosts fashion shows and beach parties some nights, and if guests need a reprise from the salt water, they can take a plunge in the resort’s Turkish baths.

Rooms average $354 per night when booked through CheapTickets.

Riu Negril – Jamaica

Riu Negril in Jamaica. Courtesy of Channone Arif.

Riu Negril in Jamaica. Courtesy of Channone Arif.

The Caribbean water is so clear in Negril, you can see what color your toenail polish is beneath the calm waves. One of Jamaica’s go-to beaches, Negril is nestled between coves on the west side of the island. Riu Negril resort has three restaurants and five bars (three of which are poolside), and they’re open 24 hours. The restaurants are themed – there’s a gourmet restaurant, steakhouse and Italian restaurant – but we recommend trying the local flavors. You’ll never taste jerk sauce like you will in Jamaica, and a taste of that is almost worth the trip itself. Of course, the other all-inclusive perks at the resort don’t hurt. There’s a club (a discoteque, as they call it), with admission and all drinks included in the package (try a Red Stripe, you won’t regret it). Venturing out of the resort is a must as well, with rich Jamaican culture at hand and mountain activities available. From the resort, you’ll have a view of Booby Cay, known for its birds and wildlife. Just up the beach, Rhodes Hall Plantation offers horseback rides along the beach. And don’t forget, Montego Bay is just over an hour’s drive away, teeming with markets and Rastafarian culture.

Note: The wifi in the room is not included in the package. But all that time online can probably wait until you’re back in the cold north, right?

Rooms average $341 per night when booked through CheapTickets.

Omni Cancún Hotel and Villas – Cancún, Mexíco

A beachfront in Cancún, Mexíco. Courtesy of Ricardo Diaz.

A beachfront in Cancún, Mexíco. Courtesy of Ricardo Diaz.

Not only is it warm in Cancún, relaxation is part of its culture. That’s evident in the atmosphere of this ocean-front resort. Tiki huts on the beach mingle with palm trees swaying in the wind. Most rooms offer private, ocean-view balconies with views of the Mexican sunrise. Surrounded on water on two sides, guests can stay in the hotel or in a villa at this Mayan-inspired resort. Three pools connected by waterfalls flow into each other at the resort and are open 24/7. (And there’s a separate pool for the kids). There’s a jacuzzi bar guests can swim to and sit in while imbibing in a drink. The resort has a spa and beach cabanas that can be reserved for the day. The Cancún sands have become home to four of the eight species of sea turtles, and guests can witness their nesting season May through September. Female turtles migrate from feeding areas and lay an average of three nests per season. Cancún’s turtle program keeps guests at a distance safe enough for the turtles, but close enough for the experience.

Rooms average $265 per night when booked through CheapTickets. 

Barcelo Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, Mexíco

Barcelo Maya Beach. Courtesy of kartfamily.

Barcelo Maya Beach. Courtesy of kartfamily.

On the shores of the Yucatán, about an hour’s drive down the coast from Cancún, lies Playa del Carmen. The area was a port for ancient Mayans pilgrimaging to Cozumel, a sacred island with a shrine to the goddess of fertility and childbirth. It is the capital of the Riviera Maya, where open-air restaurants and shops mingle with Mayan ruins. Nearly everything about this resort, located just south of Playa del Carmen, was inspired by the ancient Mayans. The three restaurants and three bars, which were recently renovated with Mayan-inspired architecture, serve Mayan-inspired food, along with other international cuisines. Guests can get a Mayan spa treatment at the resort’s spa. The sand is white and the water is clear – so clear guests can see the stunning coral reef separating the mainland and Cozumel. And on a clear day, guests can see the island so many Mayans visited in their search for fertility.

Rooms average $332 per night when booked through CheapTickets.

Royal Solaris Los Cabos – San José del Cabo, Mexíco

Royal Solaris Los Cabos. Courtesy of Michael Allen Smith.

Royal Solaris Los Cabos. Courtesy of Michael Allen Smith.

San José del Cabo is located on the southern most tip of Baja California, near where the Gulf of California blends in with the Pacific Ocean. If guests get bored of staring out at the Pacific Ocean, they can turn around and enjoy a backdrop of the Sierra de San Larazo Mountains. Touristic growth has remained on the outside of the San José del Cabo town center. Guests venturing out of the resort to experience the Baja culture can see the cobblestone streets, adobe houses and a square that sits in front of a church from the 1700s that remain in the town center. The resort itself is kid-friendly, with a waterpark and an ocean-view hot tub. With Baja being a favorite getaway for American celebrities, you may spot a star among all the tropical beauty.

Rooms average $201 per night when booked through CheapTickets. 

 Story by Ally Marotti

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Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Cheap Tips, Family, Jamaica, Last minute travel, Mexico, Seasonal, Vacation packages

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Marriott San Juan Resort and Stellaris Casino

A cheap Caribbean vacation is easier than you think, with these deals on Puerto Rico hotels. Just a short flight from East Coast and Midwest cities, and with no passport required for U.S. residents, Puerto Rico is a convenient destination for cheap Caribbean vacations. San Juan offers the best of both worlds, with relaxing beaches and exciting nightlife. Consider one of these cheap hotels for your getaway:

Marriott San Juan Resort and Stellaris Casino: This four-diamond resort on Condado Beach offers plenty of entertainment for your cheap Caribbean vacation. Try your luck at the casino, relax at the pool, rent a bike for a beachfront ride, and more. Get a fourth night free and breakfast for two when you book a stay at this cheap hotel through December 20.

Caribe Hilton: For relaxation, great shopping and more, this cheap hotel is your spot. Set on 17 lush acres, this four-star hotel boasts a secluded beach and a bird sanctuary. A full-service spa offers a variety of treatments. On-site boutiques offer merchandise by Prada, La Perla and more, and the hotel is just 10 minutes from Puerto Rico’s largest shopping mall. Seven restaurants, a bar and a Starbucks on site will satisfy any appetite. Book a cheap Caribbean vacation here through June 30 and get a fourth night free, breakfast for two adults and two children (under 12), plus 20% off a spa treatment.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: FREE!

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By Heather Leisman

Our latest Deal of the Day is in St. Thomas, the Caribbean vacation destination known for its calm waters, beautiful beaches and fantastic duty-free shopping.

Right now you can save 20 percent at the 3-star Point Pleasant Resort when you stay for three or more nights. I found discounted rates for a villa-style suite with full kitchen for just $144 per night for May 5-8. Plus, if you book your summer vacation by July 31, you’ll get a $50 Visa gift card for on-island spending.

Check out this week’s video for more on why this is a great St. Thomas hotel deal.

CheapTickets resources:

Heather Leisman is senior director of merchandising for CheapTickets.

Tagged: Uncategorized