4 Hacks I Use to Take My Family of 8 to Aruba for Seriously Cheap
One happy island can also mean one happy wallet if you follow these money-saving vacation tips.
When one thinks of vacationing in Aruba, it isn’t usually synonymous with the word “cheap.” My husband and I first visited the island known as “one happy island” for my 40th birthday in 2017 and were instantly smitten. We immediately said, “we have to take the kids here one day.”
Not only is it a tropical paradise with moderate temps and white sandy beaches, but it’s also considered to be outside of the hurricane belt, so it’s a safer choice if you’re worried about weather impeding your precious vacation time.
If you’re a parent, you know that taking four young kids on vacation anywhere, let alone to a foreign country, is no easy task. Not to mention… the cost. Even though Aruba is considered to be one of the more affordable islands to visit, according to the Family Vacation Guide blog, taking your family there will cost, on average, $2,000 per person.
But, we managed to take our family of six (plus our moms!) for under $10,000 total. Here are the four exact hacks I used to make this dream vacation to Aruba for our family of 8 a reality—and how you can do the same.
While Aruba does have great restaurants throughout the island, we found that the most economical way to visit (and sample various cuisines) is with an all-inclusive resort. We opted for The Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives, which has 10 restaurants and 8 bars throughout its various properties. We found it to be family-friendly, clean, hospitable, and a lot of bang for our buck! It also helps when you’re trying to stay on a budget as you just need to allot for travel expenses and any cash tips.
Book on Cyber Monday
Now that you’ve decided all-inclusive is the way to go, those in the know book on Cyber Monday! We quickly learned through chatting with other folks that many visit the resort each and every year and book through its annual Cyber Monday sale, which offers 50% off!
Some years, we’ve had to log on at midnight to score a room, while in others they’ve offered early access prior to Cyber Monday. Be sure to subscribe to the resort’s newsletters to get the most up-to-date information. You can score even further discounts by booking for what’s considered to be the island’s off-season, which is September or October.
Kids Stay Free!
At the Tamirjan All-Inclusive Aruba, kids under 12 stay free for each paying adult! This helps us out a lot as we have an equal number of each, and kids drinking and eating for free really helps to offset the costs. Kids ages 13-17 receive special pricing at the resort, and at the nearby Divi Resorts, kids under age 5 stay free. This is available year-round with no special codes needed to book, which is pretty great.
Shop Around for the Best Airline Prices
When booking a vacation for a fairly large group, plane tickets alone can break the bank—especially with recent fuel expenses and inflation. I spent a lot of time researching airlines, alternate airports, and checking prices daily (as they can fluctuate). I learned that booking approximately three months prior to departure can yield the best rates.
“It can be frustrating to find the best airline deals because pricing is based on complicated algorithms,” says Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel President, North America. “We recommend several tips for our travelers: be flexible with travel dates, book as far in advance as possible, travel mid-week, and depart early and return late. Also, you may want to book connecting flights separately and use multiple carriers.”
Berna’s top piece of advice? Browse flights in “incognito” mode on your device. This way, the airline websites and flight search sites won’t be able to track your searches, and you may find a lower price.
How Else Can I Score Affordable Vacations on the Cheap?
While I’ve personally never done this for our family trips, many say there are good deals to be had when utilizing a travel or group travel agency.
“Your sense of adventure doesn’t disappear just because you have kids, and we feel the best way for large families to travel inexpensively is through a small group outfitter that takes care of everything,” explains Berna. “Your costs are fixed, you’re getting an incredible family adventure at a great value, and perhaps most importantly, there is less stress for you to figure everything out on a tight budget.”
Such agencies often also get deals and rates that aren’t available to the general public.
If you’re not prone to seasickness, you should also consider a cruise. These floating resorts offer all the amenities of all-inclusive resorts, making it easy to vacation on a set budget. Plus, you often get to visit many different destinations in one trip.
Family-friendly cruise line Carnival, for example, offers promotions to coincide with certain holidays such as Cyber Monday. You can visit the dedicated promotions page to see all the current discounts being offered. You can also join the “VIFP Club,” which unlocks members-only deals.
Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to have a grandma or two you can tote along, definitely do so—it means built-in babysitters and possibly some couple-time, too!
What if you’re looking to instead send the kids to grandma’s house and escape for a couples getaway? Excellence Resorts, an upscale chain of all-inclusive resorts located throughout Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, offers early-bird discounts of up to 40% so it pays to book in advance! In Mexico specifically, prices are usually higher during their “busy” season of December through July, so rates outside that timeframe are typically lower.
And that’s how you get a big family vacation booked for cheap. Happy travels!