I want to get away somewhere WARM this winter. I'm trying to find a fun place to go relatively inexpensively. (Living in WY means no cheap flights anywhere). Not sure if I will have my bf, or just meet a couple girl friends there, so ideas for both appreciated. Prefer outdoorsy to shopping trips!
Even ideas for good sites to search for deals would be appreciated!
I find the cheapest holidays we've done in the Caribbean have been when we've booked a house/apartment, and stayed out of the all inclusives.
Check out Roatan (Honduras). Flies with - United direct flights from Thursday to Monday out of Houston; Saturdays from Newark, New Jersey direct. Delta flies direct from and to Atlanta on Saturdays and American Airlines comes direct from Miami every Saturday. SunWing has charter flights from Toronto to Roatan, November to May. (Yes, I quoted that from their website lol).
We normally take the Toronto-Roatan, and have sometimes added the Toronto-Houston-Roatan.
Even with working the flights, it comes out cheaper than a 1 week all inclusive.
It can take a lot of research, I spend hours planning a vacation - sourcing out accommodations, reading travel websites, and if you stay up late certain nights of the week, the airlines put out their seat sales.
If what you really want is warm beaches but not necessarily an exotic place, southern California (like San Diego) and Florida can be great places to get your beach on for cheap. Hawaii would also be a good choice this time of year; winter is their low travel season, whereas Nov/Dec/Jan is shoulder/high season in the Caribbean. Mexico might also be an option.
Don't laugh at this suggestion, but I really suggest you call a travel agent. A lot of people don't realize that you probably won't pay more by going through an agent than you would searching on your own; all of these online sites have travel agent fees essentially built into them, so you are basically paying for a travel agent except you're behaving as your own agent. It only takes one crappy trip to one crappy hotel for you to wish you had an agent in your corner. This is a good article about finding a good agent: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43992593.../#.UJBu-Wl24k4
That said, let's say you reaaaaaaally wanted to find your own deal and were ready to take some chances. Here's some places I would try:
biddingforgood.com - this is actually an all-purpose auction site BUT the auctions are administered and run by non-profit groups. The way it works is that the vacation packages stay the same, but you can bid on that particular package to support various charities. So for example, you can bid for this $1100 package for 5 days/4 nights in Cancun, worth $1048, for about $410. (Don't forget, of course, to consider the cost of airfare and other expenses like food.) http://www.biddingforgood.com/auctio...3&view=GALLERY
You could also think outside the box by staying at a hostel or renting someone's home or apartment. Airbnb.com is one of the best sites to find that sort of thing. You'll be amazed at the low prices in some wonderful tropical locales, and many of these places have kitchen access so you'll save a small fortune compared to eating out.
But seriously, in your position--where you just wanted to spend as little money as possible to get as much beach and sun as possible--I'd call a travel agent. If you're a AAA member, they have travel agents that will consult with you for free. Otherwise, find an ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) agent.