If your heart is set on seeing the Statue of Liberty or the Mona Lisa, you can’t do that without visiting New York City or Paris, respectively.
But if you want to save money on travel and aren’t picky about the specifics, it’s possible to save money and get a similar experience by choosing a different destination.
We’ve put together a list of seven cheap alternatives to some of the hottest travel destinations in the world. Your actual costs for each destination can vary depending on your budget, where you stay, and what you do.
But to give you some ballpark figures, we’ve used data from Lonely Planet and Google Flights to show you what it might cost per day for budget, midrange, and high-end travel plans. Prices shown below are current as of late June 2018.
1. Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, instead of the Maldives
|Little Corn Island||The Maldives|
|Budget (up to)||$35||$400|
|Midrange||$35 to $80||$400 to $850|
|High-end (more than)||$80||$850|
The primary appeal of the Maldives is its remoteness. To get there, you have to take several flights and then board a ferry, speedboat, or seaplane to get to your final destination.
But you can have a similar experience for a whopping one-tenth of the price on Little Corn Island. Located roughly 50 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua, you must first fly to Big Corn Island. Once there, you’ll take a boat to Little Corn Island, where you can enjoy the beach and seclusion without the hefty price tag.
“We have always wanted to go to the Maldives but ended up going to the Caribbean instead,” said Ruby Escalona, a travel blogger at A Journey We Love. “It’s still a beach destination but much cheaper to fly to if coming from the U.S. Plus, you have more choices for flights to the Caribbean.”
2. Curacao instead of the Bahamas
|Budget (up to)||$80||$300|
|Midrange||$80 to $200||$300 to $500|
|High-end (more than)||$200||$500|
Located in the Caribbean near Venezuela, Curacao has a beautiful mix of European architecture and tropical vibes. The island has more than 35 beaches and is surrounded by a fringing coral reef, making it perfect for snorkeling.
So if it’s a traditional tropical getaway you’re looking for, skip the higher prices on the Bahamas and visit Curacao instead.
3. Portland, Oregon, instead of Seattle
|Budget (up to)||$100||$125|
|Midrange||$100 to $250||$125 to $250|
|High-end (more than)||$250||$250|
On the surface, the cost difference between these two cities in the Pacific Northwest may seem negligible. But what tips the scale in favor of Portland is Oregon’s lack of a sales tax.
This means that you can shop for arts and crafts at the city’s Saturday Market, stock up on books at Powell’s Books, or visit the city’s gardens and museums at Washington Park without paying a dime in sales tax.
Of course, the small price difference may make the three-hour drive up to Seattle worth it, but there’s plenty to do in Portland to keep you busy.
4. Galway, Ireland, instead of Dublin
|Budget (up to)||$93||$174|
|Midrange||$93 to $174||$174 to $289|
|High-end (more than)||$174||$289|
Dublin is rich in history and culture. But if you want a more charming and inexpensive Irish experience, take a two-hour drive west and stop in Galway.
Galway is home to the majestic Kylemore Abbey, picturesque castles, and all the pubs you can handle. It’s also the gateway to a beautiful coast that includes a coral beach and stunning coastal cliffs.
If you don’t want to skip Dublin, you can spend a day or two in the capital city and the rest of your stay in Galway.
5. Jacksonville, Florida, instead of Miami
|Budget (up to)||$140||$150|
|Midrange||$140 to $250||$150 to $300|
|High-end (more than)||$250||$300|
South Beach and the vibrant Cuban culture in Miami’s Little Havana are a sight to behold. But if you want to get the most bang for your buck in Florida, head to the north end of the state’s Atlantic coast.
Jacksonville was included in Lonely Planet’s list of best value destinations and is home to more shoreline than any other city in the U.S., including 22 miles of beaches. I don’t know about you, but I’d say smaller crowds at the beach are always a good thing.
6. Vietnam instead of Singapore
|Budget (up to)||$40||$146|
|Midrange||$40 to $100||$146 to $293|
|High-end (more than)||$100||$293|
If you’re heading to Southeast Asia, you’ll get a lot more value if you visit Vietnam instead of Singapore. Plan your visit during one of the monthly lantern festivals in Hoi An, or drink in the view of the limestone towers of Halong Bay.
Then, head to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum in Ho Chi Minh City to learn about the country’s history, which has been, at times, both beautiful and terrible. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll save money doing it.
7. Montreal instead of Paris
|Budget (up to)||$100||$116|
|Midrange||$100 to $200||$116 to $290|
|High-end (more than)||$200||$290|
Once you get there, Paris isn’t that much more expensive than Montreal. But a flight across the Atlantic Ocean costs more than twice as much as it does to cross the border into Canada.
For example, the cheapest flight we found to Paris from JFK International Airport in New York in late summer was $534. Head to Montreal, however, and you’ll pay as little as $252.
You’ll experience a European ambiance when walking through Old Montreal, and there’s no shortage of French restaurants. You’ll also have an opportunity to practice your French as it’s the official language of the city and province.
Do your research before you go
If you have travel plans coming up, it’s always a good idea to find ways to save money on your trip. That can mean opting for a similar but cheaper destination or finding other ways to keep your travel costs in check.
“We self-cater some days to save on food costs and look for fun and free activities in the destinations we go to,” said Escalona. “We also set a maximum we will spend for every category of our trip. For example, we only pay a maximum of $130 per night for hotels or Airbnb, and a maximum of $600 per person roundtrip for a flight.”
The important thing is that you take a step back and consider all of your options. That way, you can enjoy your trip without regretting its price tag.
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