Thanks to social media, it might feel like everyone you know is constantly jetting around the world and posting envy-inducing photos of their glamorous getaways. If you're gripped by wanderlust but balking at dropping hundreds or thousands on your next big vacation, fear not. With a little planning and flexibility, you can visit unique, jaw-dropping and exciting destinations but for a fraction of the cost of what you'd normally expect to spend on vacation.
These twenty different affordable destinations for the savvy traveler offer amazing off-season deals, have reasonable rates for accommodations, food and entertainment, or offer the most bang for your buck thanks to a favorable exchange rate with U.S. dollars. Whatever the reason, their low cost can make it possible for you to afford a trip across the country or to the other side of the world. They might have modest costs, but these trips are still rich in fantastic sights and memorable experiences. Read on to discover which of your bucket list destinations you should plan a trip to next with great travel deals.
Visit America's northern neighbor for an unforgettable bucket list trip on a budget. The U.S. dollar has a strong exchange rate in Canada right now, meaning you'll get more bang for your buck. As part of Quebec, Montreal has French flair without having to fly to Europe, so transportation costs are lower to get there. This city is also an amazing melting pot of food, art and culture.
Port Salut, Haiti
It's been years since earthquakes and hurricanes caused widespread destruction in Haiti, but the country still isn't as popular a destination as it used to be. Most travel stories written about the island nation focus on the fact that it's still recovering, but it's this fact that makes it an extremely affordable Caribbean destination. With consistently warm weather, serene white sand beaches and uncrowded oceanfront accommodations serving fresh seafood, the beach town of Port Salut is a perfect place to escape from it all and discover the country's beauty.
Steer clear of well-known islands like Santorini and Mykonos, and you could save big on a dreamy Greek getaway. An upscale, serene island vacation is in budget if you travel to an spot like Paros, a top European island destination. Take a ferry a few hours outside of Athens, and you'll avoid crowds and high costs and can eat luxury seaside meals, enjoy cosmopolitan nightlife and still visit ancient monuments, such as the sanctuary of Delian Apollo and Artemis. This will all come at a reasonable price, especially if you travel between April and June or September and November when prices for hotels and tours can be slashed by half.
This Pacific Northwest metropolis offers budget-friendly sights and activities year-round. Museums are free the first Friday of the month, and every Saturday, the city hosts one of the largest and best farmer's markets in the country. The city is extremely bike-friendly and has an affordable bike share program. It's also not far from the outdoors, and hiking to Pittock Mansion offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. You can also grab delicious grub whether you're hitting up a food truck or the city's upscale restaurant row.
While Pokhara is the hub for people heading out on mountain treks in the Himalayas, the vastly underrated city of Kathmandu is worth visiting to see its seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including a famed stupas and Hindu shrines as well as Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple. A 2015 earthquake did some damage to the city and scared off some tourists, meaning you can get a good deal on your lodging there and spend money that will help the city's restoration efforts.
The culturally rich city of Marrakech, Morocco is a great winter destination, as it's in its tourism off-season but temperatures are still in the 60s-70s, meaning pleasant weather, fewer crowds and better deals. Explore the ornate palaces and gardens, stroll through the colorful street markets, spend a night camping in the Sahara and stay in a riad, a traditional Moroccan courtyard house, for an extremely reasonable fee.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Formerly an expensive place to travel, Russia and its major cities have become much more affordable destinations thanks to the devaluation of the ruble. Flights are more moderately priced to encourage tourism to places like St. Petersburg, considered the country's cultural heart and a top destination for any bucket list. St. Petersburg is easy to navigate by public transit, and you can stay in a 4-star hotel for around $40 a night. The city is home to the Winter Palace and the Hermitage museum, as well as the iconic Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Despite stricter restrictions, you can still easily travel to Cuba through a variety of legal avenues and even take a direct flight for less than $300 round trip. The capital city is one of those destinations you have to see in your lifetime, known for its pastel-hued vintage cars and buildings and as the cultural heart of the country. Festivals take place year-round in Havana, and many cultural activities like museums are free or very affordable. One way many travelers save money and comply with financial restrictions is staying in casas particulares, or B&B-like home stays. Your fee directly supports Cuban citizens, and allows you to experience what life would be like for a local.
Bridger Bowl, Montana
If you're looking to hit the slopes, the most affordable ski getaway in North America is Bridger Bowl, Montana. With low rates on lodging, equipment rentals and lift tickets, as well as steep chutes and open powder fields that receive an average 350 inches of snow a year, it makes for an ideal economical winter vacation.
One of Mexico's most glamorous vacation spots is still quite affordable. On top of the area's many gorgeous free beaches, Tulum offers unique, affordable activities such as touring Mayan ruins, snorkeling in the El Gran Cenote sinkhole and seeing amazing wildlife in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. You can find hotel deals for under $80 in January and February, and roundtrip flights to nearby airports for under $300.
While many travelers flock to Beijing and Shanghai when visiting China, the booming city of Xi'an, once China's ancient capital, is smaller at a population of 12 million, but it still easily accessible by plane or high-speed train. This makes it less crowded and more affordable. Its biggest claim to fame is as the home of the Terracotta Warriors, but it's home to many other ancient temples and monuments, as well as an evolving restaurant scene.
One of Africa's most underrated destinations, Namibia offers many of the same amazing adventures and fantastic views as South Africa but for a fraction of the price and with less crowds. The exchange rate to the Namibian dollar is favorable, so skydiving over the Namib desert will cost you no more than $140, leaving you extra money to spend sandboarding, hot air ballooning, climbing the world's oldest dunes or going on a safari. Namibia also has the infrastructure for easy and cheap self-drive safaris.
Panama City, Panama
Home to portions of the Panama Canal as well as a famous beach, Panama City is the country's capital. It's both a modern metropolis and a tropical getaway, offering culture at museums like the BioMuseo as well as miles of oceanfront to enjoy. Panama is one of the countries with the least expensive luxury hotels, so you can enjoy quality accommodations at a lower cost.
A destination that many don't think of when looking for vacation spots, Krakow has a mythical feel thanks to its medieval buildings, including Wawel Royal Castle. Poland's second-largest city offers glimpses of Polish history both ancient and modern, as its also nearby Wieliczka, a salt mine that's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the notorious Nazi concentration campss of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The local food is cheap but filling, and shopping is a fun and affordable activity here, especially around the holidays when the Christmas market comes to town.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
A wonderfully adventurous and affordable destination, northern Thailand's Chiang Mai is a gorgeous place to be. On top of a favorable exchange rate, it has cheaper rates than the capital city Bangkok without lacking food, cultural attractions, or outdoor adventures such as riding an elephant. Chiang Mai is home to bustling night markets, ancient temples and modern coffee shops, galleries and restaurants as well as an annual lantern festival.
Located on Australia's west coast, Perth is a great spot to visit for its relaxed atmosphere and sandy surf beaches. You can join a group surf class for cheap, take a stroll by the river in Kings Park or take a free class at Australia's largest specialty didgeridoo store. You can also spend time at the city's variety of bars, restaurants and cultural sights.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
The gateway city to the famed ancient Angkor Wat temple complex, Siem Reap is extremely affordable and offers fun and good food, making it popular among solo travelers. Zipline through the jungle, see the local circus, tour the workshops of local artisans and learn to recreate your favorite street food at a cooking class.
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An oasis in the desert, Phoenix is home to many resorts that offer discounts of 50 percent or more in the off-season, which is July and August. You can still beat the heat stargazing at night or by hiking, horseback riding or teeing off the morning hours, then spending the scalding afternoon poolside at or the spa. Phoenix is also within driving distance of jaw-dropping natural beauty at the Grand Canyon, Sonoran Desert National Monument and the Tonto National Forest.
Another ideal destination for solo travelers, Santiago is a quintessentially South American destination that's also quite affordable. With world-class dining, massive museums, bustling markets, historical sites and nearby mountains, the city has something for everyone.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Because of the high competition between hotels and casinos, Sin City is one of the most affordable destinations in the country, especially during the winter. With average fall weather in the 60s-80s and winter temperatures in the 50s-60s, Vegas is enjoyable even in the off-season. You'll have plenty of extra cash to spend on gambling, fabulous shows, or gourmet meals, thanks to the city's many free activities, cheap airfare, and hotel deals which make it an great, affordable vacation even at the last minute.