Published July 18, 2012
Your bank account is nearly empty, but wanderlust has set in and you're desperate to get away from your boss. How can you pull off your dream vacation? It's not as hard as you think, according to many travel experts. Don't let limited funds stop you from taking your next epic journey -- check out these great, and cheap, destinations:
This beach-laden paradise, nestled between Burma, Laos and Cambodia, won't disappoint, travel writers say, and once you get there, will cost you almost nothing. The round-trip flight can run around $700 from New York, "but once you're there, you can find five-star hotels and intra-country flights for under $100 plus 30-minute massages and multiple plates of Pad Thai for $5," says Andrew Young, the Editor of Travelzoo. And even though the country is cheap, Young adds, you won't be sacrificing comfort or safety. As long as you exercise common sense, the travel centers of "Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi/Krabi are safe." (But remain alert: two Canadian sisters died under mysterious circumstances in Phi Phi in June and an Australian travel agent was killed in a robbery in Phuket the same month).
Mexico has suffered from a run of drug violence in recent years, and as a result, prices for tourist destinations have plummeted. While there are areas to avoid, there are many more that remain safe, beautiful and cheap. "Fear is holding back travel throughout the country and that means there are deals aplenty to very nice, safe destinations," says Lauren Sullivan, a site editor at Cheapflights.com. "To be safe, look into booking travel to the east coast - Cancun, Cozumel in particular." Several carriers run vacation packages to these cities from New York, starting at $450 per person.
If all else fails, you can always jump on a jet to Vegas. There is never a shortage of deals to and from this desert destination, experts say. According to Bill Miller, an executive at discount airfare site CheapOair.com, the top national destination to find cheap hotel and airfare rates is Las Vegas. Airfares and flights remain reasonably priced to draw tourists, who industry figures say spend their money at the casinos. In addition, Vegas has an overabundance of hotel rooms, which keeps prices routinely low, according to Bob Diener, co-founder of Hotels.com. Travelers should be able to slip in and slip out for a weekend, from New York, for as low as $400.
Cheap destinations sometimes require travelers to be a little flexible with their comfort level. If you're willing to cut back on common amenities and travel on a shoestring budget, you may want to consider a handful of beautiful, cheap, but potentially gritty, up-and-coming destinations. Colombia and Nicaragua head the list, according to travel blogger Amy Graff, who writes at On the Go With Amy. "Bogota is becoming safer over the years, but remains dirt cheap," Graff says. "Bogota is on its way to becoming a popular choice for travelers looking for an inexpensive but thriving metropolis that offers world-class museums, exciting nightlife and a vibrant and unique culture."
Nicaragua, on the other hand, "is an excellent (and much cheaper) alternative to Costa Rica or Belize for people looking for a destination rich with natural beauty, cultural activities and eco-tourism adventures."