When you see pictures or hear stories about visiting the Caribbean, it’s easy to think that it’s going to cost an absolute fortune. This is the worst nightmare of any backpacker who’s living and traveling on a modest budget. But, the good news is that you don’t need to break the bank or stay in the best Caribbean villas to explore this part of the world. I’ve backpacked and island hopped without spending anywhere near as much as I thought. Here’s how you can save money and visit the Caribbean on a budget.
Why You Should Backpack in the Caribbean:
The first most obvious reason is that the islands are extremely beautiful and have a unique style of culture. You can relax on the beaches or take part in a range of watersports, such as sailing and snorkeling. And it’s not limited to just this, each island has their own unique landscapes and wildlife. For example, you can see several exotic birds in the rainforests of Jamaica or visit the semi-desert plains in the Dominican Republic.
Another reason to visit is that there are thousands of islands and each one is different. The culture, the atmosphere, and the environment. If you have the chance to go island hopping, everywhere will be different and it gives you the chance to try new experiences.
What are the Best Places to Visit?
The best islands for you to visit are based on your own personal preferences and budget. For example, Barbados and Antigua are famous for their beaches and Cuba offers a unique experience. You can also head to other islands to see wildlife, Caribbean culture or to enjoy Carnival. But, if you’re backpacking there are a few things that you need to consider.
The first is the daily cost to stay on the Island. In some places, such as the Dominican Republic, you can survive on a modest budget. Other islands, such as Bermuda, will cost much, much more. Do your research beforehand to find the places you want to visit and their expected costs.
The second consideration is how to get to the island. Some are more accessible than others with direct international flights from major cities in the United States and Europe. The more remote ones may involve a number of connecting flights and a boat ride. It goes without saying that the travel costs of getting to the more difficult to reach places add up faster.
How to Get Around the Caribbean:
Most people who backpack around the Caribbean get around by island hopping. There are several ways to do this and you should research and plan in advance. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to fly from one place to another whereas on other times it’s better if you take a boat. I’ve also met people who found a job working on a yacht and other vessels that give you free transport around the different islands. Search online for these opportunities if it’s something that you may be interested in.
Cruises Can Be a Good Idea:
Another way to see more of the Caribbean is to take a cruise. It’s a misconception that all cruises are expensive. You can find some that take you around the different islands for less than a night on land. The cheaper cruises tend to be advertised online or operated by local companies. Work out your daily costs on the island and compare it against the cost per night on a short cruise. When you start to factor in all the extra costs for getting from one place to another, a cruise starts to get cheaper and more value for money. The only disadvantage is that you won’t get to spend much time on each island. However, it’s a great way to see more of the Caribbean in a shorter space of time.
How to Stay Safe in the Caribbean:
Staying safe is a major concern for people who want to visit the Caribbean. Some islands have a reputation for being dangerous, especially in the bigger cities. Gang violence and drugs are a major part of life in some areas and tourists can sometimes be affected. The high-end resorts are completely safe and you can relax without worrying. The armed guards are there for a reason. But, you won’t be staying here if you’re backpacking. So, how can you make sure you stay safe?
Well, the first thing is to do your research before you visit. Make sure you know the safe places and the not so safe ones and use your common sense to stay away from them. It’s also a good idea to speak to some locals when you’re on the ground for insider tips. Another way to stay safe is to avoid getting too intoxicated as it makes you an easy target and never accept drugs from anyone.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom and most people who visit the islands leave without ever having any problem. The ones who do fall victim are walking around in the no-go areas flashing their cameras or money around. Would you go wandering into the bad neighborhoods back at home after a night drinking? Probably not. So don’t do it here.
The Takeaway Message:
The Caribbean is a perfect travel destination for people with any level of budget. You don’t need to spend too much to visit some of the islands and with a bit of common sense, you can stay in cheaper places and stay safe. Backpacking around this part of the world may be more expensive than other regions, but it’s certainly doable and is worth the extra costs.