Ready to cross a fantasy destination off your bucket list, but not sure you have the money? It could be cheaper than you think, if you know where to look.
These eight destinations are generally considered pricey, but this year are more budget-friendly than ever. Whether it’s thanks to new air routes, favorable exchange rates, or affordable tours, here are the budget travel places you didn’t know you could afford in 2017.
New Budget Travel Destinations
Now is the time to see romantic Venice. The lagoon city under threat from rising sea levels is known to have pricey hotels, but it’s also now home to plenty of cozy Airbnb listings that let you experience the city like a local and at a budget travel price.
Skip the controversial cruises that overrun the small port area and instead see Venice during fall shoulder season to enjoy less-crowded canals and piazzas. Plus, airfare to Europe is less expensive than you might expect thanks to Brexit travel insecurities and a strong U.S. dollar. Hop a budget airline like Norwegian Air to Milan and then take a scenic train ride to Venice.
Spirit Air’s expanded routes to New Orleans are making for some of the best budget travel fares in the U.S. this year. Baltimore, Cleveland, and Orlando now fly direct to NOLA for as low as $54 one-way, if you’re willing to forego a carry-on item. As affordable U.S. getaways go, New Orleans itself packs plenty of culture and value—as long as you avoid booking during the city’s big festivals like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.
China seems to be on everyone’s bucket list—as it should be—for its big wonders like the Great Wall and its smaller pleasures like Shanghai street food carts. And now, thanks to the falling local currency, flights and group tours are cheaper than usual. China flights from the West Coast U.S. for around $500 aren’t uncommon, and tour operators are slashing prices so you can get the lay of the land from a seasoned local guide. For example, G Adventures will take you from Shanghai to Hong Kong on a shoestring for $849—with another 15 percent off select departures. Even if you’re purchasing a tour on top of airfare, China is now budget travel friendly.
The travel surge to Havana that followed a new U.S-Cuba travel agreement last year seems to have ebbed. Airline companies are cutting back on flights because they’re struggling to fill seats. That’s good news if you’re dreaming to go before tourism transforms the country.
Average U.S. flight prices have dropped by almost $100, and flights from the East Coast for under $300 aren’t uncommon. Prices could continue to drop until airlines work out the demand. Just be sure you get a compliant visa and book accommodations (plenty of cheap ones are available) before you go—Wi-Fi networks are far and few.
Sailing on the Adriatic Sea sounds like a sailor’s dream come true, but recently it’s become an affordable reality for landlopers as well thanks to tour sales on already bare-bones itineraries in Eastern Europe. Explore Croatia’s Dalmatian coast by boat with a licensed skipper for up to 25 percent off eight-day itineraries, or $1,124, with G Adventures. Considering the thousands of dollars that people shell out to charter a boat for Yacht Week here, you can’t beat just $140 per day.
Budget airline WOW Air gifted the Northeast U.S. cheap transatlantic fares starting in 2015, but jealous onlookers in Miami and even on the West Coast can get in on the deals now, too. Flights to Iceland’s glaciers and hot springs are especially cheap, starting at $99 one-way from Miami and $69 one-way from Los Angeles. These prices are usually misnomers or sell out fast, but even higher fares like L.A. to Reykjavik for $400 round-trip are a deal considering the value. Subscribe to airfare deal sites like our sister site Airfarewatchdog to be notified when fares are cheapest.
Like many of the world’s most biodiverse places, the Galapagos archipelago islands are protected and allow only trained nature guides to take visitors to experience the wildlife. But seeing plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth doesn’t have to cost a fortune, thanks to Ecuador’s official use of the U.S. dollar and on-sale tour offerings.
Geckos Adventures’ under-30 tours are as cheap as $1,100 for a seven-day Galapagos itinerary including accommodations, transport, and five nature activities. Flights to Quito for under $400 from the East Coast, and around $500 from the West Coast aren’t uncommon. Darwin’s outdoor laboratory packs plenty of value for devoted adventure travelers.