FFF Travels: Dominican Republic for $1000 or Less

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Due to popular demand, Financially Fit & Fab is starting a new travel hacking series: FFF Travels for $1000 or less.  Expect to see real life examples of international and domestic trips that I have taken for $1000 or less.  Some trips will be much less than $1000 and others will come right to the cusp.  The dollar amount spent on the trip will include flight, lodging, food & drink, as well as basic entertainment.  

First up is the Dominican Republic!  I was in Puerto Plata, DR for 5 days and 4 nights during May 2016.

FFF Travels-Dominican Republic for $1000 or less

Flight

I pride myself in being able to find awesome flight deals.  Who finds $100 round-trip flights to DC and Houston?  ME! Who gets round-trip flights to Panama City, Panama (Central America, not Florida) for $200 round trip? ME!  Although I always use the #1 flight search engine, occasionally I am unable to find an unbelievable deal.  The location and dates were set in stone.  We were flying to Puerto Plata, DR, which is a smaller city.  To top it off it was during a holiday, Memorial Day weekend, when flights tend to be pricier.

The round-trip flights from my local airport were almost $900!  I tried all of my “flight hacking tricks” like using hidden-city ticketing, setting flight alerts, and even searching from nearby airports.  Nothing worked.

Then, there was a shining light at the end of the tunnel: Credit Card Points!  I opened my American Express Credit card about a year ago and never used the credit card points!  Like many travel hackers, I used my credit card for a majority of my every day purchases and then would pay off the balance at the end of the month.  That way I wasn’t hit with any nasty interest or late fees and I was able to earn points for things I would normally buy.

The credit card points were equivalent to a $675 credit for my flight!  I was only responsible for $225 out of pocket.

Lodging

Two years ago, my girlfriends and I went to the same resort in Puerto Plata, DR: Lifestyle Holidays Vacation.  At that time, we had never been to DR.  We worked through a travel agent and got the cheapest accommodations they offered.  Unfortunately, this resulted in us paying top dollar for what seemed like a 2 star hotel. Very disappointing.

This time, I started researching lodging 6-8 months prior to the trip!  I knew there had to be other options, even at that same resort, for a better price.  I used all of my favorite lodging websites: VBRO, Airbnb, and even plain old Google Searching looking for availability at the Lifestyles Holiday Resort.  Turns out, I was able to find an awesome travel agent, Mark Austin, through google searching.  Booking through him, we were able to reserve a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom villa, with a private pool for only $760 which would be split 4 ways!

I know what you are thinking, I trusted a travel agent through a random website.  Yes, I did.  However, before I booked the lodging I read all the reviews I could find for the travel agent as well as emailed him questions prior to submitting secure payment through paypal.

Lodging for 5 nights and 4 days was only $190 per person. 

FFF Travels
Our Beautiful Villa for the Trip

Food & Drink

The resort was all inclusive therefore all of our meals and drinks on the resort were included for an additional fee.  Although we were at an all-inclusive resort, during our previous visit we decided to buy bottles of alcohol at the airport.  Of course, we weren’t receiving any good deals buying liquor at the airport.  Over the 5 day vacation, we barely opened the bottles of liquor.  By booking through Mark Austin, our villa delivered a bottle of alcohol for each person that was staying at the villa.  4 FREE BOTTLES OF LIQUOR!

The bottles of liquor saved at least $50.  I was on the hook for $340 for the required resort all inclusive fee which covered not only my meals and drinks, but also a private chef to cook breakfast every morning.

Entertainment

The reason we went to the resort for Memorial Day weekend was for a special party weekend.  The weekend activities included pool parties, a comedy show, day parties and other activities.  During our first trip to DR for Memorial Day weekend, we bought special party passes because we assumed that they were needed for $200.  Turns out, all of the activities that we wanted to participate in were free by staying at the resort.  We went to pool parties, day parties, enjoyed the beach, and the resort night club among many other activities.

Forgoing the party passes saved $200.  We ended up participating in the free entertainment on the resort for $0.

In total, I spent $755 for 5 days in DR!  Yes, you read that right, $755 for an international trip!

Dominican Republic for $1000 or less !

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of FFF travels.  Make sure to subscribe below to be updated on posts regarding budgeting, saving, investing, and traveling for less.

 

34 comments

  1. That’s an awesome deal! It’s nice to be able to use credit card rewards. I used my Amex points to fly my in-laws for a visit. Definitely something to take advantage of in the States. A bottle of alcohol for each person?..now that’s a great deal 🙂 . The lodging looks great too, and l like this new series.

  2. This looks fantastic! I’ve never been to DR. It’s one of the few places in the Caribbean that I haven’t crossed off my list.

  3. Great deal! I love it when a fellow traveler gets a great deal and has a fabulous vacation. The Dominican Republic is on my list of places to visit.

  4. Wow! I’m impressed with your savings. Thanks for sharing these tips especially the Google flights tip. Amazing!

  5. Wow! I wouldn’t even know the first place to look to research these deals y’all find on these amazing trips. Obviously, I need to learn a thing or two because your accomodations were beautiful and a vacation is much need around here! Awesome insights, Tia…looking foward to more!

    1. Glad you liked the tips Latoya! I have seen you working hard around the web so you deserve a relaxing time soon, even it it is just a staycation!

  6. That’s a good deal. I would love to visit the Dominican Republic. That villa looks beautiful, I’m in shock at what a good deal that was.

  7. This is awesome, my friends are always amazed when I am able to travel on a budget. I spent 8 days in Italy for $1000 and 14 days in Guatemala for $1100 both including my flight, lodging, food and activities. It can totally be done with some planning and patience. I am glad you were able to attend your event and have a great time.

  8. That is the type of travel I’m trying to do. That is really good, I save up my credit card reward points for travel. I cash them in and get cash to use as spending money when I travel.

  9. Ugh this looks incredible!

    xo
    Allie
    https://alliesfashionalley.com/2016/06/smoother-butts-love-coconuts/

  10. Oh my goodness! What a great post – loved that you shared your tips. I have really learned how to maximise on those credit card points and it’s been a lifesaver for some of our bigger trips. It sounds like you had a fabulous trip!

  11. I stayed in Lifestyles when I went to DR. Very beautiful island, but I won’t be returning because of their ethnic cleansing. Glad you were able to find a good deal. I like saving money and finding awesome flight deals too.

  12. Wow. Looks amazing! Anywhere that I can go for under $1000 is a place that I need to look into. Probably not DR, but I’ll be keeping an eye on your series 🙂

  13. Fantastic deal! Would love to visit DR someday. It would be even better to use a rewards program to maximize savings!

  14. You ALWAYS have the best money tips! I am book marking this because I need a vaca and I’m trying to save some cash!

  15. I always do massive research before a trip to get the funnest stuff for the best deal. Thank you! This saves me a lot of time!

  16. This is awesome! Especially on such a big travel weekend. We did something similar for a family vacation to Myrtle Beach for under $1k, but it wasn’t international!

  17. That’s great you were able to use credit card rewards. I have an airline credit card I use for many purchases and pay in full every month. I haven’t used any of the points yet but I’m looking forward to the savings when I do!

    I’m currently an expat in Thailand right now and Southeast Asia is a very inexpensive place to visit. Thailand & The Philippines are beautiful countries you could visit on around $30 USD per day. The plane ticket is the only expensive part…costs $1100-1300.

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