ADVERTISEMENT

$69 Flights to Caribbean Paradise? You Bet!

By Celia Shatzman
September 29, 2021
Mt Pelee, Martinique
Courtesy <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieu_distefano/8599337397" target="_blank"> Selden Vestrit/Flickr</a>

When it’s this cold outside, all we can imagine is lying on the beach with coconut trees as shade, sipping on delicious local rum. And now Norwegian Air is making our tropical paradise dreams come true, releasing a crazy-good deal for flights as low as $69 each way to Martinique, one of our Where to Go in 2016 destinations. That's 10 bucks lower than rates we reported just a few weeks ago.

What's more, Norwegian is offering additional flights: up to eight nonstops every week out of the U.S., including just-added flights on Sundays in April out of New York City's JFK airport. Once you touch down, the island's currency is the euro, and with the dollar still going strong, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. 

Budget Traveler-–friendly perks aside, we love the French Caribbean island for its varied landscape: Rain forest preserves and black-sand beaches in the north, plus white-sand beaches in the south make it perfect for adventurers and beach bums alike. Two-thirds of the island is protected parkland, so it's no surprise it was nicknamed the Island of Flowers by the Caribbean Indians dating back centuries.

Get up close and personal with the island’s greenery at The Balata Botanical Gardens, which is home to more than 3,000 species of tropical plants and flowers, including Instagram-worthy ponds dotted with lilies and lotus blossoms (admission about $15, jardindebalata.fr). And the selection of French and Creole restaurants—ranging from street food to elegant dining—makes Martinique perfect for foodie travelers.

Keep reading
Inspiration

Make It Happen: Bangkok

FLIGHTS: No carrier flies directly from the U.S. to Bangkok anymore, but here's what you can do: From the East Coast, fly in any direction, and air travel generally costs more than $1,000. From the west, airfare is almost the same price, but recently round-trip fares with carriers like Air China and EVA Air have been dipping as low as around $700 from LAX and SFO.   STAY: The colorful, stylish Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road opened a year ago in the city’s embassy district. It might not be the sexiest address, but it’s near Lumphini Park and has a 24th-floor infinity pool with great views of Bangkok (from about $115 per night, ihg.com). EAT: For street food, head to trendy Chinatown, which is now home to buzzy bars and cool galleries. If you're looking for authentic street food, don't worry: Its alleys are still noisy with vendors hawking grilled meatballs on a stick, plates piled high with pad thai, spicy noodle soup, and more. Err—minutes away from Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)—is a gastropub painted with murals that serves comfort dishes like slices of green mango soaked in fish sauce spiked with chilies and crisp-on-the-outside coconut sticky rice (small plates start at about $1, errbkk.com). DO: The Buddhist temples, like Wat Pho and Wat Arun, are must-dos, but so is a longboat sail through the city’s network of canals. There are many operators waiting at Tha Tien (Tien Pier) that provide everything from basic tours to excursions that serve a meal onboard. Bangkok’s markets are great for haggling and people-watching. The most exciting is the massive Train Market—located behind Seacon Square shopping mall—at night. Its countless stalls house vintage motorcycles, homemade clothes by local designers, antique furniture, and old vinyls. WHEN TO GO: The tail end of monsoon season (September and October) can mean more budget-friendly prices at some of the city’s hotels, but there really is no concrete low season in popular Bangkok anymore. Visit during Loy Krathong, an annual festival that typically lands in November. That's when Thai people all over the country celebrate the water goddess by floating candles on rivers, the sea, lakes—any body of water. In Bangkok, on the night of the festival, the Chao Phraya River takes on a romantic glow. 

Inspiration

Live Like a Local in Italy

When it comes to traveling in Italy, Budget Travelers have always been big fans of “living like a local.” That means eating where the locals eat, visiting the off-the-beaten-path galleries and museums that tourists often miss, and hitting the best trails for cycling and hiking, many of which are not well known to Americans. That’s where Tourissimo got our attention. The bespoke cycling and hiking tour operator takes travelers into a super-local world of cycling and hiking in Italy, immersing them in the interests that are most important to them. When I sat down recently to chat with Tourissimo’s founder, Giuseppe “Beppe” Salerno, I was inspired by his enthusiasm, passion, and know-how. These are truly unique, customized travel experiences that manage to elegantly combine world-class service with a sense of adventure and discovery (not always easy to do). Bespoke tours offer a variety of potential experiences. Starting at $2,500 per person, tours may be escorted or self-guided private tours; tours include an excellent guide-to-guest ratio of 1:9, choice of activities (including wine tasting, cycling clinics, cooking lessons, and much more), bikes and equipment, and 3-4 star accommodations (with the option of an agriturismo lodging experience on a working farm). Tourissimo guides have personal connections to the regions where they travel and deliver a true locals’ point of view, including cultural immersion, traditions and customs, and the opportunity to meet local food and wine producers. Maybe because my great-grandmother was born in Palermo, I’m especially excited about Tourissimo’s upcoming “Sicily Magnifica Cycling Tour,” which explores the storied island’s historic past and vibrant present, including a stop in the town of Corleone, where novelist and screenwriter Mario Puzo set portions of The Godfather. Touring Sicily by bike is the kind of brag-worthy vacation most of us would love to check off our list. To learn more, visit Tourissimo.

Inspiration

Escape winter with these Caribbean deals

This is the time of year we always get a little tired of the winter grind, and the snowstorms across the country this past week sure don’t help. A nice Caribbean escape could sure come in handy right about now. Here, three of our favorite "ultimate islands" that won’t break the bank. ANTIGUA &amp; BARBUDA is inviting Americans to discover this elegant, beautiful pair of islands with (no kidding) 365 beaches -- yes, you could literally stay all year and never visit the same beach twice. The Verandah Resort &amp; Spa is a high-end luxury property but the good news is... Expedia is offering a great all-inclusive deal: $462 for a room that sleeps four -- that’s just a little more than $100 per person per day for lodging, meals, beverages, and non-motorized water sports included. CURACAO may be the most colorful island in the world, with its mix of gorgeous beaches and bright Dutch-colonial buildings. Snorkelers love its coral and underwater caves (not as scary as they sound). JetBlue has vacation packages that include airfare and four nights’ lodging from $459. PUERTO RICO is a world away from home, but it’s part of the U.S. (no passport required!) and a short flight from the East Coast. Stroll the old-world streets of Old San Juan, kayak in tropical waters, taste local fare like arepas and spicy Asian-fusion dishes. We love Copamarina Beach Resort &amp; Spa for its secluded beach, acres of tropical gardens, and diving opportunities, from $145 per night.

Inspiration

Deal of the day: Your NYC vacation at a price beyond compare

This is not a typo: you can stay in the heart of New York City for $229 per night Thursdays through Sundays this winter. That's a savings of over 50% off standard rates. We're not kidding. In fact, to make things even more unreal, the rates on select dates are as little as $189. The Westin New York at Times Square is going all out and offering luxury and convenience at an unprecedented price. And we mean Convenience with a capital "c." The Theater District, shopping galore, and subway lines that get you nearly anywhere in the five boroughs are all within a short walk from the hotel's front door.  This Deal, which gets you a standard room, also includes a breakfast offering you gotta see to believe: start your day with a full breakfast for two for $1 at Foundry Kitchen and Bar, a welcoming spot adorned with all the fixings of a country kitchen. It's regularly $65 for you and a companion. We're not mathematicians here at Budget Travel, but it looks like that works out to nearly 100% savings. The hotel boasts a state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness center. It's true: like the city outside, it never sleeps. And the Westin hotels recently instituted a Gear Lending program, which offers New Balance workout clothes delivered right to your room for $5. So there you have it: Food, fitness, and a room smack in the middle of one of the greatest cities on Earth, at a price that leaves you plenty of coin to explore. For more information and to book, click here.

ADVERTISEMENT