A vacation in the Bahamas can be a priceless adventure to remember always, but travelers should plan their trip with plenty of attention to budgeting.
Avoid unpleasant financial surprises by being mindful of everything that you'll spend during your vacation. Remember to factor in expenses such as accommodations, dining, shopping, transportation, gratuities and incidentals, keeping in mind that small expenses add up.
Lodging costs can vary widely, as the Bahamas is home to a myriad of lodging options. The least-expensive hotels tend to cost about $80(USD) per night, while larger resorts can run as high as $400(USD) per night. Peak-season accommodations can cost considerably more than the same rooms during the off-season. Do plenty of research to ensure that rates and availability apply to your intended dates of travel.
Also remember that the room rate generally reflects the services and amenities offered by the hotel or resort. More expensive, all-inclusive resorts accommodate guests with meals, activities, and knowledgeable concierge staff, whereas some of the more affordable lodgings may provide only a room. It's always best to be careful and look into what amenities a specific hotel offers before you book a room.
The cost of dining is another major factor when budgeting for your Bahamas vacation, and will naturally depend on the type of restaurant you prefer. It is safe to assume that no meal will cost less than about $5(USD), while a meal in higher-class establishments can cost up to $40(USD) per person. In accordance with local custom, some restaurants will automatically assess a gratuity before the bill is presented; these charges hover around 15 percent. If a tip is not included in the bill, feel free to use 15 percent as a general guide, but as always, tip according to the quality of service.
Transportation must also be included in budgeting for a Bahamas getaway. Because taxi fares are never set in stone, err on the side of caution and overestimate. Buses are extremely economic options with one-way fares of $0.75(USD) for adults and $0.50(USD) for children, but their availability is limited to the larger cities. If your interests take you outside of these metropolitan areas, you will need to make other arrangements. Rental cars - and the rental rate - can be reserved ahead of time, making them a good option for budget-conscious travelers. The financial downside of renting a car is that the cost of fuel in the Bahamas is higher than in North America and parts of Europe.
Island-hopping also presents the possibility for unexpected expenses, as the cost of hiring boats or planes is dependent upon each individual local guide. Bike and scooter rentals enable travelers to get around, but are not recommended for use as a primary source of transportation. Instead, these are a great way to independently explore serene, less-trafficked areas. Daily rental rates are around $40(USD), but prices generally improve for weekly rentals.
The price of keeping occupied is, naturally, dependent upon one's interests. Days spent sunbathing and swimming will be relatively inexpensive. If museums and guided tours are a part of the plan, more money will be spent on admission prices. Of course, daytime is not the only time you will be spending money. Smart vacationers give careful attention to the price of evening activities, as well. Bars and clubs generally charge a cover, but happy hours include drinks that are less than $3(USD). Local listings and hotel staff are invaluable resources for additional pricing information.
Visitors should bear in mind that their daily spending might fluctuate greatly. A day or two of shopping will probably comprise a higher percentage of your budget than the inevitable time spent soaking up the sun and scenery. This type of variation is to be expected; travelers who anticipate days of approximately equal spending shouldn't be concerned, since it usually evens out in the end.
Nassau is world-famous for its duty-free shopping and unique items that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. Some of the most well-known are the locally distilled Bahamian liquors and colorful Androsia batiks, as well as foreign luxury goods, such as Swiss watches and Colombian emeralds.
Shoppers should be aware that leaving the country with some of these items may require paying extra when going through Customs. Americans are permitted to return with $600(USD) worth of untaxed goods and two liters of alcohol per person. Locally made items are not included in this and remain untaxed. A tax of 10 percent is added to the value of all items exceeding the duty-free limit. Canadian citizens are allowed to return with $500(USD) in merchandise and 40 ounces of liquor as long as they have been traveling outside the country for more than seven days. European visitors are advised to contact their own travel commissions or embassies to determine the regulations applicable to them.
Travelers must pay a departure tax upon leaving the Bahamas. Children under six are exempt from this charge, which is $15(USD) everywhere except Freeport on Grand Bahama where it is $18(USD). The tax must be paid in cash, but both the Bahamian dollar and the U.S. dollar are accepted as the exchange rate is quite stable.
The Bahamas has no national tax added to the sale of merchandise, but an 8 percent hospitality tax applies to hotel stays. This charge is assessed upon check-out. Some lodging providers incorporate this charge into their quoted rate, but don't assume that it is included. The only way to be certain is to ask, so feel free to request a breakdown of charges when booking your room.
Careful budgeting for your Bahamas vacation is essential to an experience that incorporates everything you're looking for. Taking the time to research your individual interests can prepare you for everything from finances to culture. This way, only pleasant surprises should await you in the Bahamas.
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