If you're a hopeless procrastinator like me and still haven't planned your winter escape strategy, you probably assume it's too late to find anything affordable. Yet you are not as screwed as you think you are! The ethos of the Caribbean -- always be slacking -- applies to booking vacations there. And now isn't such a bad time anyway: The US dollar is at its strongest level in years, and plenty of savings await anyone who knows know where to look.
Still, given the sheer number of islands, resorts, and resort packages, even a veteran vacationer can get overwhelmed. This, dear traveler, is where we apply some research.
"Do your homework and prioritize what's important to you," Sandy Lovick, the owner of Minneapolis-based Travel Leaders, told me. "If it's about price, we're finding that Puerto Vallarta and Punta Cana are still really competitive." Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Panama are also seeing a rise in popularity, she said: "These places are offering five-star service at a more affordable rate than other Caribbean islands."