With winter finally coming to an end (knock on wood), you might be dreaming of summer travel.
In fact, 6 in 10 people last year were already researching their options in February, according to Google, but 46% had yet to pick a destination.
More and more travelers are looking for affordable places to visit. Searches such as “inexpensive weekend getaways” and “inexpensive family vacations” are on the rise.
I reached out to travel bloggers and experts for their favorite inexpensive travel destinations for summer 2018. Here are their top picks.
1. Gdansk, Poland
Located on the Baltic coast of Poland, Gdansk is a colorful city loaded with historic charm.
“Gdansk is becoming the trendiest destination in Poland now,” said Paulina Hinz, Gdansk native and co-founder of What To Do In Gdansk. “Often compared to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, it’s much more affordable and equally, if not more, beautiful and fairy tale-like.”
Hinz especially recommends Gdansk in the summer, when the warm weather brings out its free festivals and nightlife.
“The summer season boasts great free events like the FETA International Street Theatre Festival, the three-week-long St. Dominic’s Fair (the 758th this year, by the way), and many more, alongside cool night markets and a hip nightlife scene,” she said.
What’s more, Gdansk is affordable. According to Numbeo, consumer prices in Gdansk are 55.18% lower than those in New York City as of May 17, 2018. Restaurant prices are 61.50% lower, and a three-course meal at a midrange restaurant will only set you back $27.53 for two people.
If you’re looking for a European city with a history that spans 1,000 years, set your sights on Gdansk.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Those looking to stay stateside should consider Charleston, South Carolina’s dignified port city lit by gas lanterns.
“Authentic historic charm, refreshing sea breeze, and annual award-winning festivals (such as Spoleto Festival USA) make summertime in [Charleston] a must for travelers looking for a relaxing yet sophisticated weekend getaway,” said Patrick Mitchell, Charleston native and marketing project specialist for Charlestowne Hotels.
Although temperatures can be high in the summer months, Mitchell said hotel prices are low. “Visitors can take advantage of affordable accommodations at the city’s best boutique hotels offering exclusive experiences for a fraction of the high-season prices,” he said.
You might enjoy that Charleston’s restaurant prices are 27.41% lower than those in New York City year-round. Thanks to your savings on food, you can spend more time enjoying the attractions in and around Charleston, such as the Magnolia Plantation or the boutiques of King Street.
If the heat of South Carolina turns you off, head north to Montreal. Like Paris, Montreal is one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world, but its prices are a lot more manageable.
Consumer prices are 23.27% lower than those in the City of Lights. Restaurant prices are 26.83% less.
“Montreal is considered to have the flair of Europe without the high prices,” said Grainne Kelly, former travel agent and founder of BubbleBum car travel innovations. “It’s always high on energy and full of attractions.”
Kelly said the summer months are chock-full of festivals and outdoor entertainment. And Montreal’s Jazz Festival is the largest in the world, taking place from late June to early July.
Whether you’re looking for music, performing arts, or a weekly fireworks show, Montreal in the summer has you covered. With affordable prices and temperatures in the 60s and 70s, it could be the perfect summer escape.
4. Montego Bay, Jamaica
A Caribbean island might not come to mind when you think of summer destinations, but it could be a budget-friendly option. According to WestJet Magazine in 2016, accommodations in Jamaica during the summer months can be discounted by as much as 50%.
“Jamaica has some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful white-sand beaches and clear blue waters,” said Kelly. “The island is full of culture, adventure, and residents who are ready to welcome visitors.”
If you enjoy an all-inclusive stay, you will find lots to choose from in Jamaica.
“For [a] one-room fee, you have access to several restaurants and bars, several pools, a business center, fitness facilities, and a full-service spa,” said Kelly.
And you can put the money you saved on hotels toward activities including snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, golf, or yoga.
5. Playa Samara and Tamarindo, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica has become a popular destination in recent years thanks to its commitment to sustainability. Taryn White, founder of The Trip Wish List and a traveler who has visited more than 50 countries on six continents, recommends Costa Rica for your summer trip.
“Aside from its tropical climate and beautiful natural surroundings, what makes this place so great is its welcoming spirit, a variety of things to do, and its affordability,” said White. “The country is all about sustainable tourism, eco-friendly practices, and adventure. Here, you can hike, bike, zip line, surf, dive, raft, and more.”
For backpackers, surfers, and families, White especially recommends Playa Samara and Tamarindo. Playa Samara, she said, is one of the best beaches, while Tamarindo has hotels, restaurants, bars, and lots of activities.
Plus, there are accommodations and activities to fit any travel budget.
“During summer, rates are lower, so you can generally find three-star properties for $100 per night, four-star properties for $200 per night, and five-star properties for $300 per night,” said White.
6. Meteora, Greece
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Amanda Plewes, the travel blogger behind Partway There, made her way around the world in 2017. One of the most breathtaking places she visited was Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage site of rock formations and cliff-top monasteries in northern Greece.
“The cliff-top monasteries are in the heart of an area with incredible food and amazing scenery,” said Plewes. “[Meteora] has a lot of outdoor activities like rock climbing and hiking.”
She said it’s much cheaper than the much-visited islands of Santorini or Mykonos, and it’s an easy train ride from Athens. If you hang out in Athens for a day or two, you will enjoy restaurant prices that are 37.98% lower than those in New York City.
Need more persuading? Plewes has one more reason to visit: “The James Bond movies were filmed here,” she said.
7. Coron and El Nido, Philippines
Plewes has a second recommendation for those looking for something out of the way.
“Coron and El Nido are both in Palawan, Philippines, and have incredible scenery, amazing beaches, and are easily doable for $30 to $50 per day,” she said.
She adds that while lots of travelers visit Thailand or Bali, the Philippines aren’t as crowded. But they still have great food, beautiful beaches, and high-quality diving.
“If you want world-class scuba diving, especially on World War II shipwrecks, Coron is where it’s at,” said Plewes.
That said, the summer months fall into the Philippines’ rainy season, so you might experience rain showers throughout the day. But Plewes said not to let that stop you.
“Rainy season is a bit odd in the Philippines,” she said. “Certain areas get hit way worse than others. Generally, Coron [and] El Nido aren’t too terrible when it does rain. It’s a quick come-and-go kind of rain.”
She does recommend packing a poncho, just in case. She said the unpredictable weather is worth the low prices. Most of TripAdvisor’s hotel recommendations for Coron, for instance, are less than $100 a night. The Coron Guapos Guesthouse starts as low as $10 a night.
A few tips for saving money on travel
Travel might add some unusual expenses to your budget, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re concerned about costs, make sure to do some research on the prices in your target destination.
Check the average price for hotels, restaurants, train tickets, or whatever else you might be buying there. And look for ways to cut costs, such as:
Staying in an Airbnb or hostel instead of a hotel
Making the most of travel rewards points on a credit card
Looking for discounted tickets for students or children
Searching for flexible travel dates to find the lowest prices on flights
Finally, one of the best ways to save money while traveling might be to choose a destination that’s off the beaten path. Instead of sticking to the most popular places, choose the road less traveled — and save more of your hard-earned money.
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