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Top Three Spectacular Travel Destinations For Tight Budgets

Updated on October 17, 2019
Lauren Haas profile image

At 48, I started traveling the world with everything I own in a backpack. That was in 2013, and I'm still going!

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Know what you're craving, then seek "bang for the buck"

Satisfying your wanderlust doesn't always require spending a lot of cash. The trick is to know precisely what it is your heart desires so you can be sure to choose a trip that will satisfy you.

Usually, when you crave travel what you want is a feast for your senses: Music, art, architecture, street performers, scenery, new flavors. This kind of stimulation is food for the soul, and without it, you can feel your spirit withering away inside you. If this is what you're craving, look for exotic experiences and a dramatic change of scenery.

Occasionally, though, what you need is a complete break from stress. In that case, you don't want a get-up-and-go vacation — you want to lie down, read a breezy book, and have someone bring you a cocktail.

You can make either of these vacations happen at home when your budget is super tight, with a carefully designed staycation. But if you have a little money to spare, here are some budget vacations that will leave you fulfilled and overjoyed.

New Orleans serves exotic sights, sounds, and tastes.

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New Orleans's mix of culture, cuisine, and architecture will give you an exotic experience without leaving the mainland. Lodging just outside the French Quarter will save you big bucks but still put you within walking distance of the action. Strolling the cobbled streets and linger near the street musicians is a free way to enjoy your days. Even fine dining and cocktails in The Big Easy are reasonable compared to other cities. Remember to avoid this area during Mardi Gras season, unless you're specifically looking for a wild street party experience.

Beach Dreams Come to Life in the Carribbean

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If you're craving a beach resort, does it matter whether you're in Cancun, Jamaica, or the Virgin Islands?

Sites like Apple Vacations and Funjet will let you search for deals on vacations from your home airport to a variety of sun-worshipping spaces. If you're flexible about where you wind up, you can always find a great bargain here. Look for the AI (all-inclusive) designation, which means all your trips to the buffet and swim-up cocktails are covered. Pro tip: The cheapest resorts usually offer mediocre food buffets, but most have better restaurants available onsite if you're willing to make a reservation.

Prices often start at just $699 for a weekend and include airfare, lodging, meals, and alcohol.


Cartagena: Castles and Romance

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If you're looking for a romantic European-style adventure close to home, consider Cartagena, Colombia. Flights from the U.S. to this South American coastal city are often under $300 round trip from Florida, and the city is a dream destination.

The Old Town area features horse-drawn carriages clopping on cobblestone streets and open plazas for outdoor dining. At sunset, you can walk on top of the castle wall that surrounds the old city, enjoying the sunset and sea breezes. The city is a foodie paradise — don't miss the fresh fruit juices and coconut limeades.

Know Where to Skimp

The adage that "you get what you pay for" definitely applies to travel. What are you ready to give up to make your trip affordable? If you're willing to endure an uncomfortable flight or inconvenient layover, you could save a few hundred dollars. If you can accept an ugly room as a place to sleep and shower, you'll have more cash to spend on dining experiences and tours. Your vacation memories will make all the trade-offs worthwhile.

Bargain Travel Tips

To make any trip a budget trip, consider these money-saving hacks:

• Book an apartment, aparthotel, or hostel with kitchen privileges, so you don't have to eat all your meals in restaurants

• Use a tool like Skyscanner or Google Flights to find the cheapest dates to fly; the more flexible you can be, the more you'll save

• Travel light — the most inexpensive flights typically won't include a checked bag, and some might only allow a small personal item.

If you can make your own breakfast, fly on any day of the week, and take off with a toothbrush in your pocket, you'll save half or more on the cost of your trip.

Comments

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    • Tia Miller23 profile image

      Tia Miller 

      3 weeks ago from Arkansas

      I'm from New Orleans originally but I haven't just been there to explore since I was a child. I plan on going on a carribean cruise next year so we'll see how that works out. I like this article, it's very informative and I love the pictures.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 weeks ago from UK

      The Caribbean was a surprise. It's good to see that there are good value options around.

    • Teszra profile image

      Tess 

      4 weeks ago from Hawaii

      I've heard so many wonderful things about New Orleans. I will definitely be traveling there soon. I also didn't expect the Caribbean to be on that list. Colombia is on the travel list as well! Nice article.

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