How are UK family holiday-makers at a Caribbean resort different from the North American guests lounging on the beach chairs next to them? Well, in addition to flying further and staying longer, they've sometimes paid a lot more for the land portion of their family holiday.
Most UK visits buy convenient packages that combine airfare from their home city plus resort stay. Meanwhile, US visitors can grab terrific Caribbean vacation deals that originate from hub cities such as New York.
Often, UK Visitors can save money on Caribbean family holidays by routing through the US, instead of buying packages through the UK. The trip must be broken into two parts, i.e. do the first leg to the US, then the second leg to the Caribbean and back to the U.S. This is an "a la carte" approach, and travelers will have to do some work coordinating the flight to the US, the flight to the Caribbean, and the beach resort stay.
The best strategy is to build in a mini-stay in a US hub city that has lots of charters to the Caribbean (or Mexico) : New York City, for example.
Fly across the pond, enjoy the hub city for a day or two, then take the short flight to your Caribbean (or Mexico) family holiday.
YFor the Caribbean portion, you may want to use a US vacation packager who'll bundle together your Carribean flight, ground transfers, and resort. Alternatively, some resorts -- such as Beaches-- will help customers book airfares and ground transfers.
UK travelers can also try a U.S. travel agency such as VacationKids.com, whichspecializes in all-inclusive resort holidays for families, and sells popular vacation packagers: Apple Vacations etc. "We deal with all the big wholesalers and are well versed in dealing with neighbors across the pond," says Vacationkids founder Sally Black.
For example: "Say a family requests to depart on July 10, for 14 nights...I'll look and perhaps there is a non stop charter from Gatwick that leaves on July 9th... I build my quote around that departure to make it easy for my families. I'll check the flight itinerary and prices and then add a link where they can book the flights themselves....then I price out the land portion of their trip. I make it very easy for them."
So,it can be done.And if you don't want New York as your stopover city, there are other options. Have a look at a big vacation package site, like Apple Vacations, and check out the major departure cities.
Don't forget that you'll probably need to overnight again in your connection city on your way back. And never schedule tight connection times. Your transatlantic tickets will be completely separate from your resort-vacation package: if you miss a flight, you're on your own.
How much time do you need, to make connecting flights?
Sally Black advises: "For international connections, families should allow a 4 hour minimum for lay overs. You have to clear customs, collect baggage, usually find transport to another terminal (always at the complete other side of the airport) check in, clear security...plus time to get food and have bathroom breaks for the kids."
All of which makes travel insurance even more important than usual for family holidays. Sally's final tip: "It is VERY important that if any family -US, UK or otherwise-- books their vacation ala carte like this, they MUST obtain their own travel protection insurance. We usually recommend www.travelguard.com. This will cover them for airline issues, hotel issues, medical, etc. They can always call/work with their airlines if there is a problem as well as the company they use to arrange their land travels. The travel insurance companies also provide 24/7 emergency numbers."