20 Cheap Places to Travel for Your Next Vacation
Affordable getaways are easily within reach if you know where to look. We've got the best cheap places to travel around the world.
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Budget-friendly vacation spots around the world
Vacationing somewhere new or traveling back to a favorite spot is always exciting, but there’s no doubt that some getaways can get expensive. And with inflation affecting many bottom lines, it’s easy to let a fear of high pricing keep you from booking your next trip. But travel is still a priority for Americans. According to the U.S. Travel Association, travel spending will increase this year, even compared with pre-pandemic levels. And while demand may be high, and steals and deals harder to come by (you should know the best time to book a flight and the best time to book a hotel), there are plenty of cheap places to travel around the world and some great travel apps to help you plan. You can also find the best deals for a stay by availing hotel rewards programs.
We’ve got you covered with the best low-cost quick trips and big adventures, both in the U.S. and around the globe, and they all have one thing in common: They’re perfect for traveling on a budget. These spots offer affordable adventures without giving up any of the relaxation or entertainment that make vacations so enjoyable. And all of them are equally delightful outside of peak seasons, when prices on both airfare and hotels decrease. (In Europe, for example, avoid the prime tourist months of June through August.) For the most cost-effective travel (and to scratch that wanderlust itch), here are our cheap travel picks.
Portugal offers all the greatest hits of Europe, but at a wallet-friendly price. Its capital city, Lisbon, ranked in the top 10 in a recent travel trends report from Kayak for its affordable international airfare (averaging $708 round trip) and low-cost nightly hotel prices (averaging $153 per night).
And you don’t need a pocket full of cash to enjoy your time here. Simply walk the winding, picturesque cobblestone streets of Lisbon, lined with shops, restaurants, fountains and statues of leaders and poets. Step into a bakery to sample a pastel de nata (egg custard tart) for only 1 euro, or stop at one of the many stands to down a shot of ginja, the signature Portuguese cherry liquor (served in a tiny chocolate cup) for about 1.20 euro. Live performances of Fado, traditional Portuguese folk music, can be heard at spots like the Tasca do Chico, in the center of town, for an authentic and affordable experience.
Set on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena, Colombia (touted as the most romantic city in the country and perfect for a romantic getaway) blends heritage with sparkling ocean for a true tropical paradise. It’s just a five-hour direct flight from New York and a three-hour hop from Miami. (No major international airport near you? Consider pricing out a separate ticket that gets you to your primary flight’s location.) Airfare is typically in the mid-$500 range round trip, and Kayak lists their affordable hotels around $182 per night.
The capital city was declared a World Heritage Site thanks to its history and beautiful architecture, with colorful castles, cobblestone streets and colonial churches, so there’s plenty to see. But what makes this city one of the best cheap places to travel is the low cost of living in a country that offers many of the first-world amenities and infrastructure you’d expect in a much more expensive location. Enjoy coffee at less than a quarter and multi-course meals for $4. Also, be sure to sample an arepa con queso (corn cake with cheese). Wondering what to read on your Colombian vacation? Nobel Prize–winning author Gabriel García Márquez set two of his most-beloved books, The Love in the Time of Cholera and Of Love and Other Demons, in Cartagena.
This one’s for the kids! Theme park fans looking for cheap family vacations will be surprised that some of the biggest thrills are right in the Midwest. Ohio is big on fun and equally big on savings as one of the best cheap places to travel in the U.S. It also makes for one of the best road trips in America, thanks to its Midwestern location.
According to experts at Family Destinations Guide, who analyzed every theme park in the country, the best value (between hotels, tickets, food and general expenses) is at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. It’s the cheapest day out for a family of four compared with other top U.S. amusement parks, with the lowest daily food spend ($26.32), the lowest average daily cost for park tickets ($160 for a family of four) and hotels at just $79 per night. Want to make a week of it? Cedar Point, Ohio, is about a three-hour drive from Mason and came in a close second, with a daily average ticket price for a family of four at $180.
Mexico City, Mexico
While Mexico has a long list of popular travel destinations, we find this North American city to be a great bang for your buck. There are plenty of historical sites to see throughout the area, including a host of world-class museums and amazing art centers in Mexico City with inexpensive admission fees. Plus, the exchange rate is more than 18 pesos to $1.
Are you interested in some of the best Mexican all-inclusive resorts? With a pay-one-price model that includes your room, food, beverages and activities, all-inclusive lodging could be a budget-friendly option in Mexico. If you prefer to stay in standard hotels or Airbnbs, there are plenty of inexpensive lodging options in (and cheap flights to) Mexico City. Get ready for cost savings!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of our favorite historical cities in Europe and one of the best cheap places to travel for charm and culture. The perfectly preserved city has bright red trolleys ($1.35 for a ride) traversing original cobblestone streets lined with charming stone buildings. Around every corner, you’ll find a new free attraction to appreciate, like the classic pubs (get a pilsner pint for around $2) or the medieval Charles Bridge, which is lined with majestic stone statues. Another highlight: There’s an entire castle district centered around the majestic Prague Castle complex.
And it’s not just the Prague city center that offers lots to do for a tiny price tag. Head off into the lovely countryside for a budget-friendly day of visiting gorgeous wineries. Plus, we can promise you’ll find affordable luxury on the hotel front here too, with stellar stays at grand hotels and boutique hotels alike.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
A hidden gem in South America, Uruguay is just a quick jump from better-known tourist spots, such as Buenos Aires, but is much more low-key and laid back. The exchange rate, from Uruguayan pesos to U.S. dollars, is currently 26 to 1, so Americans will get great value for the dollar when they visit. In particular, the historic city of Colonia del Sacramento is a phenomenal place for history buffs to revel in relics of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The well-preserved urban landscape has landed the city on the World Heritage List, offering historic walking tours of the cobbled streets flanked with colorful homes, restaurants and shops. In the warmer seasons, residents throw block parties, at which you can enjoy homemade Uruguayan street food. And even if you’re dining at restaurants, an entire day of eating could cost you less than $10.
Lodging options range from small boutiques for about $50 per night to hotel chains, such as Sheraton, for around $160 per night. Round-trip flight prices tend to average about $540. And since the country is in the Southern Hemisphere, their summer high season is December through February, which makes it one of the best travel destinations during winter. If you want to get the best deals and pleasant weather, plan to visit in November or March.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
It’s easier (and way more affordable) to visit Puerto Rico than you may think. Since this beautiful tropical island is part of the United States, you don’t have to pass through customs, exchange money or even bring a passport to visit. And once you arrive, there’s plenty of inexpensive entertainment, including some of the best all-inclusive resorts.
Puerto Rico is home to a bounty of stunning (and free!) beaches, especially in the main arrival city of San Juan, one of the best places in the U.S. for a cheap beach vacation. While in town, be sure to explore the historic architecture of Old San Juan and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a citadel built between the 16th and 18th centuries. When you’re ready for lunch, try a tripleta, a popular (and massive) Puerto Rican sandwich of marinated meats that costs about $8 at one of the city’s food trucks.
Although we’ve seen round-trip airfares for around $200 from the East Coast, it can be especially handy to use your points or credit card travel rewards to fly down to Puerto Rico. Hotels will cost most during peak winter and spring break periods. You’ll also want to avoid the late summer and early fall because of hurricane season. But weather during the rest of the year is downright beautiful.
Book a trip to the mystical country of Thailand, one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world. Known as the Land of Smiles, this Southeast Asian trip of a lifetime is complete with relaxing, adventurous, culinary and cultural experiences, all of which are totally budget-friendly. The most affordable city when it comes to travel is Thailand’s capital of Bangkok. It’s a city sometimes associated with its backpacking scene, however according to a luxury-on-a-budget survey by money.co.uk, Bangkok was the cheapest city in the world for luxury car rentals, Michelin-starred meals and five-star hotel stays, with the cheapest luxury hotels starting at $110. As far as getting there, we found flights for $860 round trip from the East Coast in the late spring (you’ll want to avoid visiting during the steamy mid-summer months).
Once there, travelers can take advantage of other affordable luxuries, such as authentic Thai spas (at $10 an hour), incredible local cuisine for just a few dollars and a tuk-tuk ride (motorized three-wheel rickshaws popular around the city) for just $1.50 to see the golden temples that line the Chao Phraya River.
Cosmopolitan Toronto, one of the most popular destinations in Canada, is just a 90-minute trip from 60% of the United States, so it’s easy to reach for many vacationers. Plus, the U.S. dollar is strong against Canadian currency, so it will feel like the whole city is on sale. And according to Kayak, Toronto is one of the top cities for great hotel and airfare deals, with overnight stays averaging $202 a night and airfare about $375 round trip.
While you’re there, head to the top of the CN Tower to take in the amazing views. Then, head to the neighboring Ripley’s aquarium where you can ride the moving sidewalk through a shark tank. Both are included in the Toronto CityPASS, which features admission to five top attractions for a discounted rate and starts at just $56. The warmer months are peak season to visit Toronto, but they’re also when you can take advantage of the city’s most notable free attraction: the downtown beaches of one of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. Catch some summer rays here with the whole family.
Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is without a doubt a bucket list destination and was named one of the best places to travel in 2023. But can it be affordable? We think so! If flying to South Africa has seemed too prohibitive to keep you from visiting the Rainbow Nation, think again. Recently, both Delta and United have introduced non-stop flights to the country, creating competition on the routes and in turn, making airfare cheaper than we’ve ever seen—especially in the off-peak seasons of late spring and late fall, when rates dip well below $900 round trip. After you arrive, the exchange rate of nearly 18 rand to the dollar means that most hotels can cost $100 or less. Gourmet restaurants and award-winning wines are also affordable at every budget.
Head to Table Mountain and overlook the city of Cape Town. Visit Robben Island and take in its rich multi-layered history. Explore the surrounding Cape Town Winelands, a beautiful region known for its exceptional vineyards, picturesque settings and history. And then take a day trip to Cape Point to see African penguins, zebra and other wildlife.
If you’re looking for the next cool city in Central America, head to Antigua in Guatemala (not to be confused with Antigua, the tropical island in the Caribbean). This well-preserved colonial town also happens to be near an especially hot attraction—it’s surrounded by the Pacaya volcano. For as little as $22, you can have a local guide take you on a half-day walking tour of the volcano, complete with park entry fee, a water bottle and transportation to and from your hotel. Travelers who pack marshmallows and skewers can even roast them with the heat emanating from the volcano—now that’s a once-in-a-lifetime activity at one of the natural wonders of the world.
Hotels here run about $118 per night, and average airfare is about $340 round trip. November through March is the best time to visit to avoid the muddy wet season; however, you may pay a bit more to visit during this time. To get a deal and avoid the rain, try a visit just before November or after March, in the shoulder season.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Flights to Las Vegas are affordable year-round from most regions, especially if you know the best travel tips. CheapAir.com recently listed Sin City as one of its top spots for culture, cuisine and adventure that you can visit without breaking the bank.
Dining and accommodation can be had for a song, even if you’re not a high roller, with five-star hotels offering rates just over $100. Depending on the time of year, airfare here tends to start at $160 round trip on budget airlines, such as Spirit, and you won’t even need a rental car during your stay, since there’s a free shuttle to take you up and down the Vegas strip.
This desert spot takes the top spot when it comes to cheap places to travel, especially thanks to its affordable accommodations and stunning Arizona road trip scenery. The average price for a weekend hotel in this northern Arizona town is just $74 per night, making it a solid fit if you’re looking for a budget vacation out West. The city also makes the perfect base to explore the natural wonders of the area, including the unique geology of Vermilion Cliffs National Park and Rainbow Bridge National Monument, both of which are inexpensive outdoor entertainment for your getaway.
Although Page has a regional airport, consider flying into Flagstaff, about a two-hour drive away, for more availability and lower airfare, averaging around $368 round trip. And avoid the summer months here, when the temperatures soar and the national parks are packed with vacationers. Spring and fall bring lower prices, better weather and fewer visitors.
With 22 historic squares surrounded by mansions, cobblestone alleyways and stately oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, Savannah, Georgia, is the quintessential charming southern city. Take in the grand atmosphere free of charge, and enjoy the ambiance by packing a picnic lunch and spending a leisurely afternoon in Forsyth Park. The park’s grand, 19th-century cast-iron fountain was modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris and is the perfect spot for a memory-filled selfie (a free souvenir).
Another perk of visiting this southern charmer: the 17-day Savannah Music Festival, where you can enjoy a lineup of jazz, blues, folk, classical and global roots music each spring, with tickets starting at just $31. For a spacious home rental in the area, consider heading to nearby Tybee Island, Savannah’s barrier beach, about 15 minutes away. The homes here offer a great value (especially if you’re with a group), with a median price of $106 per person, per night, for a home rental during the peak summer months, according to vacation rental platform Home to Go.
If you’re looking for a luxe stay for less, Vietnam’s culture-filled capital is a destination to watch. Hanoi made it onto Luxury Hotel‘s list of the most luxurious hotels for less, with five-star rooms at $118 per night.
Travelers can head to Hanoi to get custom tailoring for a fraction of the cost. You can have button-down shirts made to order for $10, or an entire wardrobe made for less than the cost of a pair of designer jeans, and in about 48 hours. Avoid this northern Vietnamese area in the summer monsoon season, and instead choose early spring or fall for good weather and airfare prices around $800 round trip.
A city break doesn’t have to be expensive if you can take advantage of free offers, free admission or particularly affordable ventures when choosing what to do. One of the best cheap places to travel is Granada in the south of Spain, thanks to the activities it offers and their overall value. The city includes a total of 112 activities and 60 attractions, many of which are at no cost—so you can actually attempt to travel for free.
Among them is the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex named to the World Heritage Site list and the largest landmark in Granada. A city bus tour here is about $7 per person. If you’re into nightlife, Granada’s 86 bars and nightclubs include inexpensive food and drinks (beer is just over $2). Wondering where to stay? Luxury boutique hotels start at just $50 per night. Note that most flights from the U.S. will connect through Madrid, at an average cost of $550 round trip. Just make sure to pick the best time to visit Spain before you book your flights!
If you think travel to Italy automatically means an expensive trip, think again. One survey found that Verona, Italy, is the third-cheapest destination in the world for taking a luxury vacation. The city is perhaps best known as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as for its medieval old town and the Roman amphitheater, Verona Arena. For inexpensive airfare to the country, consider flying into Milan, where route competition from multiple airlines often results in round-trip fares from the U.S. under $500. From here, hop on the fast, efficient and inexpensive Italian rail from the gorgeous Milan Station for a stunning 70-minute, $7 ride to Verona.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Here is your ultimate American road trip guide. And guess what? There’s plenty to do domestically. While the Hoosier state might not scream vacation hot spot, it does offer a great value for families, with plenty of entertainment. Among the highlights in Fort Wayne is the Children’s Zoo, which offers 40 acres of rides and hands-on experiences, from feeding giraffes to petting a stingray. It’s also ranked one of the best zoos in the country. After visiting the animals, explore the Tree Canopy Trail, slide into a fully accessible playground or splash around in the 260-foot kids canal and more at Promenade Park, where many activities are free. To make your visit even more affordable, check out the multiple discount passes offered each season, with access to many of the city’s top attractions.
When it’s time to eat, there’s a delicious new food hall called Union Street Market, located in an old 1800s General Electric campus, with plenty of big, local flavors for small prices. A night in a hotel room in this Indiana city averages about $126, and airfare tends to go up about 12% in July, according to Kayak.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The beaches of Punta Cana will fulfill all your warm-weather dreams with turquoise waters, pillowy sand and miles of uninterrupted coastline. Flanking the beach like a row of starfish are fabulous all-inclusive resorts and the best affordable beachfront hotels. And the good news about the vast number of properties is that they provide competition both in amenities and pricing. The bad news is that you’ll need to choose one!
At these resorts, you can eat, drink and play on gorgeous white-sand beaches, and all for less than $350 per night. Plus, as long as you avoid the busiest periods (Christmas and Easter), you can find airfare for around $300.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
You’re likely familiar with the Netflix show set on this Atlantic chain of barrier islands, but Outer Banks, North Carolina, makes for one of America’s top cheap places to travel (it’s an especially affordable spring break destination). Both hotel rooms and vacation rentals tend not to skyrocket during the summer, but they are extra affordable during the offseason. Which means the Outer Banks ends up being the perfect relaxing coastal escape. More than one family or couple? Split the cost of your oceanfront lodging for extra savings.
Head there in the spring for pleasant temperatures, deserted beaches, low crowds and inexpensive room rates. If fishing, golfing or horseback riding are your thing, you’re in the right place. Plus, driving along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway allows you views of beautiful beaches, wild horses, lighthouses, birds and more.
- Kayak: “Travel Trends for 2023”
- U.S. Travel Association: “U.S. Travel Forecast”
- International Living: “The Cheapest Places in the World to Live in 2023”
- Home to Go: “The Summer of Savvy Travel”
- UNESCO: “World Heritage List”
- Money.co.uk: “Luxury on a Budget”
- Omio: “The Best Travel Destinations in Europe for Travellers on a Budget”
- Travel Lens: “U.S. Staycation Index”
- Home to Go