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Traveling to the Caribbean, Martinique on $300

I spent last week vacationing in Martinique with my family. For those who have never heard of Martinique, you are not alone. I had to explain to the young lady from my credit card company where it was located when I informed them I would be traveling with my card. Martinique is a French State located in the Caribean: white sand beaches, volcano hiking, and all things French Culture. We spent 7 nights there this year, our second trip. If you recall we set a New Years Resolution to pay for our vacations with a combination of credit card cash back and travel hacking. So today’s post will be about traveling to the Caribbean on $300 dollars.

Martinique Beach
Before we start the discussion I will point out that Martinique is on the Euro. I have converted all the values to USD for the purposes of this post, but most expenditures were in Euros.

So, obviously the first thing we need to get to the Caribbean is flights. The total for a family of 4 flying to Martinique including all taxes and fees was $858 dollars or $214 dollars a person. We made the decision to go to Martinique a second time mainly because of how cheap the flights were. We booked about 3 months in advance for the best deal. I also found that using a PC yielded a price difference of about $30 dollars cheaper a person. We purchased from Expedia rather then the airlines website. Expedia was not only cheaper then the airline website, they threw in baggage to boot.

Once there we needed a place to stay. I chose to stay at an AirBnB rental. We went with my in laws so they could spend time with my kids. The cost of the AirBnB rental was split in half. The total cost was $1300 dollars, so the 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house with a pool cost me $650 dollars. A tip we didn’t previously discuss in my post about travel hacking is to consider traveling with another couple. Booking an AirBnB and splitting the cost not only means you get a bigger place, but you also end up with better perks then you’ll normally find in a smaller less expensive place.

To get around the island we needed a car. Martinique is not known for public transportion or single location resorts, so a car is required. We had to get a 7 passenger SUV to accommodate our 6 people. This means the cost for the week was 540 dollars. Without kids you could go much lower.

For food we spent about $200 dollars for the trip. My in-laws paid most of this bill in exchange for their portion of the rental car. However, we still kept the bill in check by only eating out once the entire trip. The rest of the time we bought food and alcohol from the supermarket. We cooked everything ourselves. The $200 dollars included a souvenir towel and a few dollars for things like soap.

To get to the airport we purchased a Groupon. Total parking cost at the airport, $65 dollars for 7 days 3 hours. I hate that you are charged for a full day if you exceed 7 days by a few hours. Still it averaged out to 8.15 a day. Comparatively, on a recent work trip parking off site cost my employer $11 dollars a day, so I saved quite a bit.

We spent nothing on activities other then $37 dollars in gas. That didn’t mean we lounged around the pool doing nothing all day. Our rented villa was 4 miles from multiple beaches. Most days we could be found cavorting on some beach or other for majority of the day. There seemed to be an endless supply of white sand, black sand, and coral sand beaches.
beach martinique 2
Another day we took a walk around the main city, Fort-De-France, checking out an old church and library for my father in law.

Fort-De-France Library Martinique
Library Fort-De-France Martinique

We also hiked up the island volcano, Mt. Pelee. It took us about 4 hours with fantastic views of the entire island.

Mount Pelee Martinique
Mount Pelee, Martinique

So total out of pocket costs were: flight $858+ car $540+ airBnB $650 + parking $65 + gas $37 for a total of $2150. Now for the credit card hacking portion. In November we picked up the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. A $450 dollar annual fee provides $1000 dollars of statement credit plus a $300 dollar annual credit for travel. Since we booked with airBNB in November, a portion was charged in November and the remaining in February. The card provided 2 $300 dollar credits for this trip. After offsetting the $450 dollar annual fee we netted $1150 towards our trip from signup and credits. We also netted about $100 dollars additional from our normal spend.

In January we picked up the American Express Gold Card which provides a $500 dollar signup bonus. Combined the two cards provided us with an offset of $1750 dollars of our $2113 dollars spent. I will also offset $100 dollars additional because in a normal week we spend ~ $100 dollars on groceries that we did not spend while on vacation. So in the end I spent $2150-$1850= $300 dollars out of pocket for a 7 night trip to the Caribbean. This is a great start as we completed the international trip of our 3 planned yearly trips. I will find another card here shortly that will both cover this $300 dollar deficit and start to save for the next two trips.

Have you done a trip this year? Did you use cards to hack travel costs?


  1. Leo T. Ly @
    Leo T. Ly @ February 24, 2017

    You are my travel hero FTF. I have been trying to plan a trip for a while but I can’t do it without spending at least $5k. This post had inspired me the work harder to hack my way to a vacation for a bit less than my budget of $5k

    • February 24, 2017

      Let us know where you end up going. I’m always on the lookout for new destinations and tips.

  2. Erik @ The Mastermind Within
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within February 24, 2017

    Awesome trip and amazing pictures!! I love French cities. Recently, I’ve been to Montreal, Quebec City, and Dubuque (Yes, Iowa…) Port cities have a unique flavor to them.

    Have you checked out the Thrifty Traveler? Where to next?

    Congrats on the hacking and I’m looking forward to reading about your future travels!

    • February 24, 2017

      Thanks, I had not checked out Thrifty Traveler but it looks good. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

      As for where is next, my wife has a birthday coming up. Her gift is a 2 person trip somewhere. She knows that much, because with young kids you have to make sure your wife is cool with traveling without them. But, until I deliver her the tickets my lips are sealed in case she is reading.

    MUSTARD SEED MONEY February 24, 2017

    We haven’t finalized our travel plans but based on your tips, especially the AirBnB tip I am definitely going to make sure that we maximize our travel hacks.

    I have heard some really amazing things about Martinique and they offer non-stop r/t flights but with Zika going on my wife would like to stay away until that’s under control. But it definitely looks beautiful.

    • February 24, 2017

      Zika is present in Martinique and the mosiquito’s were out in force. We had little bands they sell for kids to keep the mosquitos at bay. I wouldn’t use them for kids under 2 as I doubt they are edible. Still I’m sure everyone was bit once or twice. Still no one is pregnant or will be pregnant so I consider the risk near zero. Zika gets all the press, but some of the other islands in the Caribbean (not Martinique) have much nastier viruses like Dengue Fever.

  4. Gary @ Super Saving Tips
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips February 24, 2017

    We’re currently thinking about a trip for this year, but none planned as of yet. I’ve never tried travel hacking but I’m always impressed when people manage these fabulous trips for next to nothing. I really need to try it myself. Beautiful pics, by the way.

  5. Mr. Zero @ The Divide by Zero
    Mr. Zero @ The Divide by Zero February 25, 2017

    Bravo FTF! I have never been to Martinique, but it’s on my bucket list once we achieve our FI goal and cruise the Caribbean via sailboat.

    My wife and I are starting to put together plans for a sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia this summer. When you combine a sailing charter with Australia it is very difficult to keep costs low, but you have inspired me to try and offset some of the cost via credit card hacking.

    • February 25, 2017

      That sounds like a lot of fun. My only experience on a sail boat is once or twice with my father in law in a sunfish. I’ve been on one of the Whitsunday islands with a tour about a decade ago, although I couldn’t tell you which one. It was uninhabited except our tour and the food we brought. From what I remember of them they are gorgeous. Are you a diver as well?

      • Mr. Zero @ the divide by zero
        Mr. Zero @ the divide by zero February 25, 2017

        Unfortunately I am not a diver anymore. I completed the PADI certification in college but I have issues with my ears that make diving any deeper than about 5 meters a crap shoot, so I stick with snorkeling. My oldest son (15) got his PADI certification last summer. We try to make sure he gets the opportunity to dive whenever we travel to tropical places.

  6. Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR)
    Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) February 27, 2017

    Wow, FTF! What a hack, I need to learn a lot from you on this whole travel hacking thing. I usually spend a lot more that on a local vacation even without any air travel !

    • February 27, 2017

      It’s amazing what you can do these days for very little effort. Thanks for the comment.

  7. May 20, 2017

    The policy decimated the population of Martinique and the rest of the French Antilles and set back their colonization by decades, causing the French king to relax his policies in the islands yet leaving the islands susceptible to British occupation over the next century.

    • May 24, 2017

      The giant eruption on the north side of the island near the biggest city also did not help. Thanks for the history comments.

  8. Caroline
    Caroline December 5, 2017

    That was a very cheap trip:) How did you ever come up with Martinique? Not standard for North Americans to go there.
    I lived there when I was a teenager and since my mom lived there, went back regularly until two years ago when she passed away.
    I love the fact that you don’t see the poverty you would get on some of the other islands.
    Great choice:)

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance December 5, 2017

      My wife was reading through the latest airline news about 2 years ago and discovered a new flight path to Martinique via Baltimore. Looking closer showed it was really inexpensive. We went there twice actually. The second time because we enjoyed the first trip so much. Sadly Norwegian stopped flying between there and Baltimore later this year, so we won’t make it back for a while.

      I agree, it’s a very unique place.

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