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Frugal Travel: Virgin Islands on a Budget

travelU.S. Travel

Having an exotic, inexpensive trip is possible, it just takes patience. My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th anniversary in the US and British Virgin Islands. We saved and planned for about five years, and our 8-day trip for two cost $1,600, which is $200 a day! We visited 4 different islands and stayed at luxury hotels.

 Ram Head Trail, St. John

How to Save Money on a Virgin Island Vacation

  • We obtained a hotel sponsored credit card (in our case, Marriott) and put all of our expenses on it for five years. We accumulated enough points to pay for our hotel stays, excluding a separate resort fee of $50 a night. Remember, it is important to pay your credit card balance each month or the benefits you receive get eaten away by your interest charges!
  • We saved our air miles. My husband travels moderately with his job, so we saved all of his miles and had enough for two round trip tickets.
  • We rented a car on St. Thomas. Taxis and transportation are very expensive, plus we wanted the freedom to go anywhere we wanted. Figuring out your car rental and travel between islands can be confusing, so it is essential to plan ahead.
  • We ate out once a day, not for every meal. A trip to the grocery store easily took care of our breakfast and lunches. Food is also very pricey!
  • We didn’t skimp on experiences and made sure we did and saw everything!

Frenchman's Reef Resort view

 We stayed our first five nights at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef resort on St. Thomas. The resort was beautiful, spacious, and had every amenity. Our favorite things on St. Thomas included visiting Coral World Ocean Park, strolling down colorful Charlotte Amalie streets, snorkeling at Sapphire Beach, and relaxing at Magens Bay. We also took a day trip to St. John via a car ferry (we made sure the rental car we rented on St. Thomas allowed you to take it to St. John).

Magen's Bay

Our next 3 nights were spent on the private island of Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Also a Marriott hotel, this small resort and marina boasts beautiful vistas, fabulous food, and fun amenities. We kayaked to a nearby snorkeling spot and saw sea turtles swim among the coral reef. We loved walking 10 minutes from our hotel room to an isolated beach that had a bar and pool, but hardly any people. Sitting on lounge chairs and taking advantage of the all-island wifi was also a delight.

Lastly, we had an unexpected bonus on our trip. On our way to St. Thomas, our flight was overbooked in Atlanta. We volunteered to get bumped and arrived in St. Thomas 3 hours later than planned. The airline gave us each $600 worth of air miles. So now our $1600 trip, minus the $1200 we received in air miles, only cost $400!

Where are your favorite places to visit when you go to the Virgin Islands?

Post written by Karen Hunter.

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Jill Greenlaw

Jill Greenlaw has a banking background. She gave that up 17 years ago when she got married and started having kids. She loved being a stay-at-home mom while raising her four beautiful children. A few years ago, Jill went back to work in sales. She is now working for the Mom It Forward team as their Community Manager. She loves her job. Her interests include camping, motorcycling, boating, photography, reading, cooking, and traveling. Put her in flip flops anywhere warm and she is happy.

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