12 Budget-Friendly Travel Destinations for Your Next Vacation

Even a modest vacation can cost thousands of dollars, particularly if you’re planning a family vacation that includes kids. While some people may be able to travel without a fixed vacation budget, most of us need to think about the best place to travel on a budget.

If you want to know how to plan an inexpensive vacation, you’ve come to the right place. Our Addition Financial members sometimes ask us about affordable travel and we’ve put our heads together to come up with this list of twelve budget-friendly travel destinations for your next vacation, including options for both domestic and international travel.

#1: Washington, DC

Washington, DC is a city that has many of the elements that make for an affordable vacation and it’s one of the best vacation spots in the US. It is serviced by three airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport, Dulles International Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Airport. That means you can search flights to any of the three to find the best deal.

Another reason that Washington, DC is a budget-friendly destination is that many of the city’s attractions are free. DC is home to an impressive array of museums, including the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. Tours of the White House, US Capitol and the Washington and Lincoln Memorials are also free. It’s a great place for both adults and kids to visit.

#2: Grand Canyon National Park

If you live in the Western part of the United States, you may be able to drive to Grand Canyon National Park. If that’s not an option, you can find affordable flights into Phoenix or Las Vegas and drive from there. You also have the option of flying into a smaller airport closer to the Canyon itself, including Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona.

What makes the Grand Canyon so affordable is that when you visit, you’ll pay only $35 for a full week’s admission to the park or you can visit on one of the park’s free admission days. If you camp, you’ll pay low fees to do so. The resorts in the park can be pricey, but you also have the option to stay outside the park in one of the affordable hotels in town.

#3: Asheville, NC

North Carolina is a state with tons of natural beauty and low prices. We chose Asheville for our list because there’s plenty to do, especially during the summer when the city is home to several free music festivals. You have the option to fly directly to Asheville or choose from four other regional North Carolina airports, including Charlotte, Greenville, Knoxville and Greensboro.

Nature lovers can visit the Asheville Botanical Garden or drive to the Pisgah National Forest to check out the spectacular waterfalls. Food is affordably priced, too, and there’s plenty of delicious Southern cuisine to be sampled.

#4: Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to a cheap vacation, but if you plan it right, you can take a Las Vegas vacation without blowing through your budget. Your best bet is to travel in the slowest months, which include January, February, April and September.

If you’re willing to stay someplace not on the Strip and rent a car, you can come and go as you please. There’s inexpensive food available in and around the city as long as you stay away from the big hotels and celebrity chef-owned restaurants. There’s also plenty of free entertainment, including the Aquarium in the Silverton Casino Hotel, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens and the Arts Gallery, which is chock full of artists, galleries and shops.

#5: Costa Rica

Costa Rica is widely considered to be the most affordable travel destination in Central America and if you want to experience international travel on a budget, it’s a terrific place to visit. The country has natural attractions including beaches, waterfalls, rainforests and volcanoes, many of which you can experience at low or no cost.

Costa Rica also has delicious food at affordable prices and it’s not difficult to find inexpensive hotels and rentals. It’s also a great place to visit if you like water sports such as kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling and paddle boarding.

free vacation budget template

#6: Merida, Mexico

Mexico can be a very affordable vacation destination if you avoid the most touristy spots and go a little off the beaten path. Merida is about three and a half hours west of Cancun but still on the coast, which means you can enjoy beautiful beaches and fresh seafood without paying tourist prices.

The city of Merida has multiple museums that are either free or inexpensive. The local food is known as Yucatecan cuisine and while you’re there, you can sample the local specialties in an array of affordable restaurants or from one of the city’s many food trucks.

#7: Peru

Looking to travel to South America? It’s possible to stay in Peru for as little as $40 per day, particularly if you choose an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Peru has stunning rainforests and beaches plus it’s home to Machu Picchu, and a one-day pass will cost you only $45 if you want to visit.

Food in Peru’s towns and cities is quite affordable, and in most cases you can find a meal for under $10 per person. Round trip flights from the United States can be as little as $500 per person, so all in all, Peru is an affordable destination.

#8: Valencia, Spain

A cheap vacation in Western Europe probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of budget-friendly destinations, but Valencia is an exception. Located on the coast, Valencia is home to beautiful beaches. It also boasts stunning architecture including the Valencia Cathedral, built in the 13th century.

Valencia has free and low-cost museums and you can save by purchasing a Valencia City pass to get discounted admissions and coupons. It’s possible to find affordable food and drinks, which you can do by staying away from big hotels and restaurants and finding out where the locals go to enjoy a night out.

#9: Albania

Albania is located in Eastern Europe and is a travel destination that often gets overlooked despite its affordability and charm. The capital city is Tirana and despite being a large city, it has affordable hotels and food.

The museums in Tirana cost only $4 to visit. The city has beautiful architecture and is a short trip from its natural surroundings where you can hike and take in the beauty for free. Our only word of advice here is that, unlike some other European countries, most Albanians do not speak English. So, make sure to learn some basic Albanian before you go!

#10: Mozambique

It can be difficult (and expensive) to get from North America to Africa, but Mozambique is an exception. There are cheap, direct flights from Portugal, so it’s possible to get there without spending too much money.

Once you’re in Mozambique, the lodgings and food are affordable. In fact, you can stay in the country for about $30 per day. The local specialty of crab curry will cost only $3. There are an array of natural wonders to enjoy, including beautiful white sand beaches and swimming with whale sharks.

#11: The Philippines

If your desire is for an affordable Asian vacation, then put The Philippines on your list now. You can stay there for as little as $30 per day. The country has affordable accommodations and food, and the cuisine is a reflection of the country’s location and diverse population and history.

You can visit some of the world-class beaches and engage in diving, snorkeling and swimming. You may also want to explore the waterfalls, which you can do for free.

#12: Vietnam

Vietnam is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you’re traveling from North America, you’ll have a long journey and finding a cheap flight may require some flexibility and planning. However, once you’re in the country, you can stay for about $50 a day.

The country of Vietnam has gorgeous architecture, natural beauty and some of the best food you can find. In fact, it’s an ideal destination for foodies because they can enjoy delicious pho for just $2 a bowl. You could spend your entire trip living completely on affordable street food.

Other Locations to Consider

We don’t have space to list every budget-friendly travel destination we found, so here are a few more for you to consider:

  • Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Cannon Beach, Oregon
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Alberta, Canada
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua
  • Ecuador
  • Greece
  • Serbia
  • South Africa

You can save on travel to any location by being flexible with your travel dates and times, traveling in the off season, and looking to the locals for advice on where to eat and what to do.

Budget-friendly vacations are possible with a little careful planning and preparation. The twelve destinations we’ve listed here are all affordable while still offering tons of activities and delicious food.

Are you ready to start saving for your vacation? Click here to learn about Addition Financial’s Holiday & Summer Savings Account!

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