25. August 2014

Who isn’t looking for bargain travel these days? As the Bahamas Out-Islands, and the Exumas in particular, gain popularity, more people are trying to figure out how to access this area on a budget.
Among the odd trends, a few travel writers advise the use of constant complaints to get discounts. No chocolate on your pillow? Try for 10% off. Only two sizes of frying pan in your villa kitchen? Go for 20%.

Of course, guests should absolutely speak up if they have a problem or question. But we do wonder if visitors who come ready to apply “strategic negativity” as a cost-cutting technique actually find the enjoyment they’re seeking—especially when there are ways to save money while improving your Exuma experience.

You might want to try:

1. Going local. As in many parts of the world, there can be a chasm between “tourist” and “local” venues. Reasonable prices are a feature of many of the Exumians’ favorite spots, so trying out some true Bahamian haunts can translate into a memorable experience and a positive budget impact.

2. Chatting people up. Great Exuma is home to many large, close-knit families, so casual conversations plunge you immediately into island life. These chats often reveal a niece getting into the bus tour business (and willing to offer discounts), a brother-in-law with art for sale from his minivan (without the store-front mark-up), or a best friend from school who is the authority on traditional boat construction and happy to talk about it over a beer (if you buy). Here’s to serendipity!

3. Ask about alternatives. Some Exuma tours and activities are available from multiple providers. For example, one boat adventure comes with or without a yacht club lunch, depending on where you book. More of a bag lunch traveller? By investigating all the options, you can select the one that’s the best fit for your preferences and budget.

4. Consider negotiating. The Bahamas is not a haggling culture, and many established providers have set prices. But some shops, like the Straw Market, as well as less publicized tour operators, are open to negotiations to win your business. And it’s always OK to ask if there are more affordable options.

5. Include others. If you’re the organizing type, consider getting your group—or a few people you met by the pool—together. We’ve seen visitors score free transportation, prix fixe meals, and other benefits by bringing numbers to an establishment eager to get on the tourist radar. Not every venue can accommodate these requests, especially on short notice, but sometimes an entrepreneurial spirit pays off.

At Hideaways, we like to think we’re a part of the solution for making Exuma accessible to people of nearly any budget. For example, all of our units include full kitchen or kitchenette for cost-saving eat-in meals, and our casual Splash! Bar & Grill falls on the affordable end of the spectrum. We also share specials and discounts—and not just ours!—on Facebook, Twitter, and our newsletter. Like, follow, or sign up to be alerted when there’s an opportunity to get here, stay here, and have fun here for less.

Finally, there’s now Hideaways Hillside. These condo-style rentals make studio, one- and two-bedroom cottages and villas available for weekly and monthly stays. By supplying access to amenities but saving on daily housekeeping and concierge, you get the best of a resort vacation at a great price. And simply sitting by one of our pools, strolling our sandy beach, kayaking the harbor, and enjoying the sun and sights from your room—for many, that’s vacation enough, no add-ons necessary!