What couple doesn’t love exotic vacations and seeing something extraordinary? Many foreign destinations are dirt cheap once you arrive (like eating street food in Bangkok), but your entire vacation budget will get eaten up by airfare. Others, like Europe, have an insanely high daily cost, regardless of what Rick Steve says.
Our budget exotic destination list combines the best of both worlds, so you can arrive without breaking the bank and return with a few dineros in your pocket.
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.Visiting Puerto Rico is like hitting the easy button of foreign travel. It’s technically in America, so your phone plan works, you spend dollars, and you don’t need a passport, but it still has a vibe and culture all its own. You’ll see cities older than anything on the mainland, bioluminescent lagoons, and the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. park system.
Jetblue generally has the cheapest flights to The Island. You can get there for under $200 bucks round trip. Once you arrive, you’ll find oceanfront Caribbean resorts where you can play golf, scuba dive, snorkel, or just bask on beautiful beaches with a mango mojito in your hand.
Spirit Airlines services Costa Rica on the east coast and Volaris out of Tijuana, so flights are reasonable, but the rental cars are notoriously expensive. Our secret back door trick is to combine an airport transfer with an Arenal adventure. You can zipline on the way in, go white water rafting on the way back, and walk through Arenal on your stay with no worries. Pura Vida!
In Costa Rica, summer is a shoulder season, so you will not pay peak spring prices. Many Costa Rican hotels are getaways in their own right, with on-premise hot springs and private access to the jungle.
There are some great flights to Mexico City, especially if you’re in Southern California and can do the Tijuana Airport hack, where you park in the U.S. and take the CBX Bridge directly into the Tijuana airport. Once you’re in T.J., the flight to Mexico City is domestic.
Mexico City is 7,200 feet above sea level, so it’s relatively comfortable all summer long and free from hurricanes. There are plenty of attractions in the city, like European architecture, cafes, museums, and affordable hotels at every level, plus abundant tours into the countryside so you can visit car-free.
Puerto Peñasco has so many gringos visiting that it’s commonly called Rocky Point, aka Arizona’s Beach. It’s so close, in fact, that it’s a driving destination from Tucson or Phoenix. Once you arrive, there are luxury condos that cost less than most hotels and that undeniable Mexican feel whether you take a boat tour to Bird Island or just siesta in the sand.
Our best tricks for going to Rocky Point are to purchase your Mexican Insurance ahead of time and consider an electronic sim card. Be aware that the Lukeville Border Crossing is closed from 8 pm to 6 am and can get busy on Sundays.
Visiting Quebec City is like going to Europe without the jetlag. Lingua Franca is in the air, the restaurants are très magnifique, and there’s more romance than you can pack into a single weekend with horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets and the most photographed hotel in the world!
Summer in Quebec is a wonderfully cool explosion in green with accessible outdoor adventures, including Montmorency Falls and eight spectacular via Ferrata trails. All you need to do is brush up on your French and book at a boutique hotel in the heart of the old city.
Visiting Vancouver Island in the summer is like going to the Alaskan coast, but it’s just a short ferry ride from Vancouver, which is less than an hour from the Washington border. The island is known for its mild climate and thriving arts community. Victoria, the capital, is filled to the brim with art, culture, and gardens, while the countryside is bustling with primeval forest and spectacular coastlines waiting to be explored.
Pick your hotel, plan your activities, and then explore the charm and beauty of Vancouver Island.
Only don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. It’s better to plan intrinsically less expensive trips than cut away everything that makes vacations special. We love spending a couple of “cheap days” hiking and enjoying nature, which leaves us enough room in our budget for a splurge night with a fancy dinner and luxurious room.
There are many reasons for couples to take cheap vacations. You may be on a budget and trying to retire early or want to balance expenses on a trip between luxury stays and heart-pounding adventures. Most importantly, you shouldn’t sacrifice your fun just because you’re looking for low-budget vacation ideas.
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