Win a FREE All-Inclusive Vacation to Punta Cana! Yes, really.

Win a FREE dream vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republlic!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Apple Vacations. All opinions are 100% mine.

As you know, Jeremy and I are budget travelers.

It’s not that we don’t LIKE luxury, it’s not that we PREFER sleeping in hostel dorm rooms next to loudly snoring dudes that smell like feet.

It’s just that we can never justify to ourselves the expense of splurging.

I’m the type of penny-pincher who has to close my eyes when I click “BOOK” on a flight because the act of spending money is so difficult (that’s also why Jeremy holds all of our credit cards in his wallet).

But sometimes we let ourselves dream. And in those dreams, we are sitting on a sandy white private beach on the Coconut Coast with a group of our best friends, relaxing after a day of kayaking and snorkeling, ready to head back into our all-inclusive resort, enjoy a delicious meal together and then hit the swim-up bar or enjoy a glass of wine in the jacuzzi at twilight. And of course, it’s all free. This is a dream, remember?

Couple selfie at the Riu Republica ins Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Also in my dreams, Jeremy and I look like this and duck-facing is still an acceptable thing to do in a selfie.

Well, hold onto your totem (that’s an Inception reference, get it?) because today, I’m about to make all of your dreams come true. Or well, Apple Vacations is.

That’s right: call your besties, throw your grungy old backpack in the closet and break out that fancy rolling suitcase and the only matching bikini you own (just me? Really? Ok then) because you’re about to be treated to the trip of a lifetime – FO’ FREE!

If you’re that friend who travels and squad is always like “take me with you!” Guess what? It’s time.

You’re all going to Punta Cana.

You’re like Richie Rich or Scrooge McDuck and you’re going to be making it rain with free travel.

Enter the #TravelWithYourSquad sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the Riu Republica resort. One lucky winner can take 5 friends to this exclusive Adults-Only (aka no kids allowed) dream vacation!

I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true. But so does a donut ice cream sandwich, and apparently that’s a thing.

This is the Riu Republica resort. You can stay here. With your 5 favorite people. FOR FREE. Yes, really!
This is the Riu Republica resort. You can stay here. With your 5 favorite people. FOR FREE. Yes, really!

Here, let me convince you to enter even though winning the free dream trip of a lifetime needs no convincing:

What Your Life Will Be Like If You Win

  • You and squad will be treated like royalty on an All-Inclusive Apple Vacation to the Riu Republica in Punta Cana
  • Your trip includes: round-trip airfare, all-inclusive hotel accommodations (that means food & drinks, too!), around-trip airport transfers, and the services of an in-resort Apple Representative (who may or may not be named “Jeeves”)
  • Located on the beachfront of Macao in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the brand new Riu Republica Hotel sits beautifully on a private stretch of the Arena Gorda Beach, ideal for sitting back and relaxing with your squad or keeping active with water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking, and snorkeling.
  • The Riu Republica has over 1,000 rooms, all of which are fancy AF (especially compared to that budget AirBnB you stayed at last vacation).
  • The hotel has 3!!!!! enormous beachfront swimming pools, including a quiet pool, a party pool (which regularly hosts foam pool parties – like the kind you saw on MTV in college) and two swim-up bars. Plus there’s a steam room, a jacuzzi, and a gym in case you’re That Person who works out while they’re on vacation (I hate/envy you).
  • There are NINE on-site restaurants, including a Jerk grill, a steak house and Italian and Indian specialty restaurants. So bring your stretchy pants.
  • ALSO THERE IS AN ADULTS ONLY WATER PARK!!!! It’s called Splash Water World and you never have to stand impatiently in line behind little Timmy as he tries to get up the courage to go down the biggest slide in the park BECAUSE HE ISN’T EVEN THERE. Like I love kids, but this is my dream. Can this be the new thing?! I would LOVE to go to Disney World on an adults-only day.

So obviously, you’re in, right? Enter the sweepstakes by signing up on the Travel With Your Squad page.

Then, immediately post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and wherever else the cool kids are at and tag #TravelWithYourSquad to encourage your friends to enter too! (Obviously, the more friends you have, the better your chances. Just make sure that any friend you send the link to is going to actually bring you along as one of their 5 guests. Otherwise, friendship OVER.)

Enter the Sweepstakes Here!

To state the obvious: You have to be at least 21 to enter. Sooo … sorry, all of my husband’s students. Don’t y’all have homework to do?? Also, the sweepstakes is only open to USA residents.

Just picture yourself on this beach in the Dominican Republic. Oh, and 5 friends. Oh, and it’s free. NBD. Original Photo Credit: “4033885887_f56f98d634_o” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by TruffShuff

Travel in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

I hate to slow this dream vacation roll and talk about some Serious Stuff, but you guys know us and we aren’t the type to gloss over issues of ethics and sustainable travel.

The Dominican Republic was hit HARD by Hurricane Maria in late September (here’s a comprehensive article).  Luckily, Punta Cana fared much better than anticipated, and the Riu Republica was able to ensure the safety of all of their guests and return to business as usual shortly after the storm.

But the people in the Dominican Republic, along with their neighbors in Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos and other Caribbean islands, are still struggling to rebuild and get back to normal life.

This is not the time to abandon them.  This is not the time to stop traveling to these amazing destinations.

Tourism dollars are the fuel that many small countries rely on to power their infrastructure – especially in the wake of these kinds of natural disasters. By continuing to visit places like the Dominican Republic, you are ensuring that the local population – the people working at your hotel desk, serving food at the restaurants, driving the taxis, and other jobs that directly connect to the tourism industry – continue to earn the income they need to rebuild their homes and feed their families.

Stopping your travel to places recently hit by natural disasters is like adding insult to injury.

So please, continue dreaming about that beach-front vacation – but do so mindfully and consciously. Understand the pain of the local population and do your best  to help them.

We love visiting the gorgeous Caribbean islands, but too often we have a tendency to neglect them when they are in need.

You can make a difference. Yes, you.

How to Help the Dominican Republic & Punta Cana

Posting beautiful photos from your trip to Punta Cana will help bring tourism dollars to the Dominican Republic, which in turn supports the local community. But you can also help directly, with monetary donations or physical donations of much-needed supplies. Please consider offsetting your amazing FREE dream vacation with a donation to some of the below charities!

  • Here is a list of charities that accept donations in the form of cash or physical goods throughout the Dominican Republic. Many of these places are badly in need of supplies that you can easily pick up at the store or collect from your own home before you leave and bring in your suitcase to donate.

  • The  Outreach360 Education Fund provides resources for educational programs that serve the communities in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. The goal of the program is to provide a life of choice for local children, so that they can graduate high school, attend college, and achieve gainful employment to support themselves and thrive in adulthood. The organization provides curriculum, supplies, teaching staff, facilities, and field trips, as well as other educational programs.  You can donate to them online.

  • The Dominican Foundation supports programs that encompass education, healthcare, water and sanitation for locals in the Dominican Republic. You can choose to donate specifically to the project of your choice, such as the Clean Water Initiative, a community hospital, and a community school.  Or, you can choose for your donation to go wherever the current need is greatest. Donate online here.

  • Pack school supplies  and basic medical supplies in your suitcase to donate to local schools in need. You’ll need to visit one of the  local tourism businesses that work with these schools to donate your supplies, so be sure to carve out a day to do so. You can find full information on what to pack & where to drop off your supplies at this link.

  • Beyond the Beach is another charity that accepts donations in the forms of things you can pack in your suitcase. From their website: “We always need all sizes of children’s clothing and shoes, basic school supplies like notebooks, pens, sharpeners, rulers, coloring books, calculators etc. We are also assisting a hospital in Punta Cana which gives free treatment and free shots to the poor, doctors there are volunteers. Here all kinds of meds/bandages/vitamins/painkillers are welcome and very helpful. They also give to each consultant a free toothbrush and toothpaste, so those are very welcome also.” You can drop your supplies with their local representative in Punta Cana. Contact information can be found here.

Thank you for helping support the Dominican Republic and choosing to travel ethically and responsibly.

Now, enter the sweepstakes and hit up squad to make sure they’ve entered, too! Visit Sponsors Site

PS you know you can totally take Jeremy and I with you, right?! Just saying. 😉

Hye, we’d love to hear from you! What’s 1 thing you absolutely MUST pack in your suitcase for a trip to the beach? Leave us a comment below.

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