Yesterday I came across an article with a title that spoke to me – Why you might want to push your holiday vacation to January. This is something I recommend all of the time. Traveling to Belize in January is a great idea. It seems everyone wants the same five dates during the winter season, which means that during this time our island is completely full, and flights are jammed and tend to get delayed because the whole system is maxed out. This article makes some good points, like that flights are cheaper and hotels can be cheaper, although some of their points are a bit strange “It can be healthier” or “Cruises are cheaper” (who cares? Cruises are the absolutely worst way to see any place.) But this article gave me the idea to do my own version. So, I’ll start out like they do, and go from there.
How does 15-20% off the price of your plane ticket sound? How about Belize private island packages put on sale? These savings and more could be yours – if you push your Belize vacation to a few weeks past the holidays.
We are only open five months a year – December through April. This is because of the weather. We are on a tiny island out in the middle of the ocean, so the weather really affects us. You know what else really affects us? When our guests don’t have the best vacation of their lives. This is our goal and we almost always achieve it. We are good at what we do, which is keep the fun non-stop for everyone joining us on our private island and jungle packages that we offer in Belize. So if we offered a longer season, we know there would be a much higher percentage of days of non-stop rain, rough boat rides, and days we can’t do any of the sports because of high wind. So we are only open during the absolute best window of weather during the year. This takes care of most of the bad-weather issues.
During this time frame both Christmas and Spring Break are extremely popular times to travel, with the time around President’s Day coming in third. This means that early December, all of January, and mid to late April are some of the best times to go if you can swing it, because they are within the good weather window but do not coincide with a holiday. Here are our reason that January travel is a great idea.
1. Flights are cheaper
It just makes sense that they are. As flights fill, the airlines raise the rates on remaining seats. Flights to Belize for Christmas or Spring Break (which actually lasts 4 weeks) fill extremely early. A good deal on a ticket during other times will be around $500 (or even less if you get a really good deal). A good deal at Christmas would be around $900. And I have seen Christmas tickets go for as much as $1400 per person.
2. Flight delays are less common
Because airlines overbook all flights, and also because at Christmas the weather is worse in the U.S. (where most Belize travelers come from), the bad weather plus full flights means more things can go wrong. When you are late for our trip or get bumped off your flight, you might miss the boat to the island. This means you have to charter your own boat, which costs $700 for the boat, and $80 per person to fly to where you meet that boat (our boat goes directly out of Belize City, but a boat you charter would go out of Dangriga.)
3. We put trips on sale in January
When we have a date with no one signed up and it’s getting kind of close, we will discount it 10-15%, so that everyone on that date paid the same lower rate. If you sign up for our newsletter, we send you a notification when new dates go on sale. We never put holiday dates on sale, but I know from experience I will undoubtedly be discounting January dates in a few weeks. I don’t know which dates yet, but sign up and you’ll get the email too.
4. Our groups are smaller in January
During holidays, our island fills. This varies per group (depends on how many singles, how many couples, how many families of three, etc.), but in general our maximum is 24 on a particular trip and 34 on the island. If the trip was full, there would be four guides for 24 guests, for example. But if we had 8 guests, there would be two guides. You can see with smaller trips you will get more individualized attention.
5. All other Belize destinations have openings then too
Most of our guests use our trip as a nucleus for a longer stay. They might arrive early by a couple of days, and maybe even stay longer at the end. We provide recommendations for other things to do in Belize on our website. In January, even the places that are usually really hard to get into (like the Macal River Jungle Camp at Chaa Creek) will probably have room as well.
6. You are really helping out Belizeans by traveling in an off time
Most Belizeans work in the tourist industry and most of them are paid by the day. If there are no guests, they don’t get paid. This really concerns them. Travel in the mini-off season of January and help them out, they will love you for it![photo by Kathe O’Donnelly]