A vacation in Barbados is a priceless experience, but wise travelers know that anticipating the cost of their trip before leaving home will help ensure their time on the island is spent enjoying the gorgeous weather, picturesque scenery, and colorful people. A little advance planning can go a long way toward making your vacation relaxing and carefree.
Lodging, transportation, and dining are all examples of obvious expenses that should be considered when budgeting for a trip to Barbados. However, smaller costs such as shopping for duty-free luxuries, hospitality taxes, and tipping customs should not be forgotten when planning the financial aspect of a vacation.
The peak tourist season in Barbados runs from mid-December to mid-May, and prices on the island reflect the increased demand for lodging. Because there are so many different types of lodging and accommodations available in Barbados, there should be no problem finding something to fit both your travel needs and your budget. Comfortable guesthouses can start around $50(USD) per night, while a nightly rate at a posh, all-inclusive resort may go as high as $650(USD) during the peak season. Travelers should note that these estimates do not include taxes and service fees.
Vacationers should also bear in mind that the services and amenities offered by a hotel are generally reflected in the room rate. More expensive, all-inclusive resorts will accommodate guests with meals, activities, and a knowledgeable concierge staff, while some of the more affordable lodgings may provide only a standard hotel room. It is always advised that vacationers be mindful of the amenities a specific hotel offers before reserving a room.
Money-conscious travelers will also take note that in Barbados, June through October is considered the off season, and visitors are often able to find great deals on accommodations during these months. Lodging rates are considerably lower, and many of the most popular tourist areas are free of their peak-season congestion.
A variety of culinary options offered in Barbados means travelers can plan for meals of all prices. Budgeting for meals requires a little advance planning, however, and travelers should take their personal culinary preferences into consideration. Restaurants serving traditional island fare can range from $10(USD) to $25(USD) per person at dinner time. Dinner at a first-class or gourmet restaurant will probably exceed $30(USD). Breakfast and lunch costs are generally less than dinner, and visitors who would like to try some of the high-class establishments without spending quite as much are encouraged to experiment with different restaurants at lunchtime.
Tipping is generally handled by adding a 10 percent service charge to hotel bills and restaurant checks. Additional money may be left if vacationers feel that they have received exceptional service. If no surcharge has been added, the American standard of leaving 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bill is acceptable, but feel free to tip more or less to reflect the quality of service.
A well-planned budget will also include transportation costs. Most travelers will not limit themselves to only one mode of transport, so an accurate budget will allow for several options.
Vacationers who enjoy the convenience and ease of taxis will find them rather affordable, with government regulated fares that hover around $20(USD) per hour. Remember to establish a type of currency before hiring a cab, as many will accept both U.S. and Barbadian dollars.
Buses are another popular option for getting around Barbados, and two different bus lines enable travelers to take advantage of both nationally or privately owned vehicles. Both buses charge $0.75(USD) per fare, although routes and schedules will vary.
Visitors who are determined to drive will find that cars are offered by several local rental agencies, however, these vehicles are often very expensive. Weekly rates will offer some break in price, generally running around $400(USD)--but daily rates are also available for vacationers who are interested in driving only for a day trip or short sightseeing outing. Daily rates of approximately $100(USD) per day should be anticipated, and travelers are reminded that if they decide that a rental car will be their primary mode of transportation, parking and fuel expenses must also represent a portion of the budget.
Leisure transportation such as bicycles and mopeds are popular options on Barbados and should be represented in the budget as well. Bikes and mopeds are available for daily rental starting at $20(USD) and $25(USD), respectively. Often, visitors can get a better rate if they agree to keep the bike or scooter for one week.
Vacationers hoping to take advantage of the island's shops, museums, and nightspots ought to incorporate souvenir costs, admission prices, and cover charges into their financial planning
Visitors should bear in mind that their daily spending might fluctuate greatly, and that a day or two of shopping will probably comprise a higher percentage of their budget than the inevitable time spent soaking up sun and scenery on the beautiful beaches.
Budgeting should also be done for the gifts and souvenirs a traveler will accumulate while in Barbados. Bridgetown offers duty-free shopping, and prices are generally 30-50 percent lower than in Europe or North America, making it an ideal spot for shoppers. Local handicrafts are popular as well, particularly the straw bags and batiks for which the island is known.
Shoppers should be aware that leaving Barbados with some of these items may require paying extra when going through customs. Americans are permitted to return with $400(USD) worth of untaxed goods and one liter of alcohol per person. 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 $300(USD) in merchandise and 40 ounces of liquor as long as they have been traveling outside the country for more than seven days. Holidaymakers from Britain will find themselves able to return with about $50(USD) worth of merchandise and one liter of alcohol per person. All other international visitors are advised to contact their own travel commissions or embassies to determine the regulations applicable to them. Once aware of their own country's limitations, it is recommended that visitors do a little budgeting to anticipate any possible duties they will need to pay when going through customs.
Travelers must pay a departure tax upon leaving Barbados. Children under age 12 are exempt from this charge, which is $12.50(USD). The tax must be paid in cash, but both The Barbadian dollar and the U.S. dollar are accepted as the exchange rate is quite stable.
Barbados supports a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15 percent which is generally added to meals in restaurants, tickets to attractions, and the sale of any items that are not subject to the "duty-free"regulations. Frequently this charge is already included in the quoted price of an item.
Hotels will also assess several surcharges upon check-out, including a 7.5 percent government hospitality tax and (oftentimes) a 10 percent service fee in the place of tipping for service. Not all hotel bills will include the service fee, however, and travelers should review the bill carefully to determine whether additional tipping is necessary.
Careful budgeting beforehand can keep visitors from missing out on the many opportunities a trip to Barbados affords. Travelers who anticipate their financial needs before leaving home enjoy the assurance of having every aspect of their vacation accounted for. Budgeting allows visitors to enjoy all of the activities that interest them without any unforeseen expenses.
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