Ahhh, affordable vacations. Is there such a thing? Vacation is what we dream, hoping it’ll take away stress, boost our health and help us rest. But, why does every vacation that sounds halfway decent have to cost so much money? That alone will send your stress levels over the edge. Especially when you have a teacher’s salary barely paying your bills! Well, take a deep breath and don’t stress.
We’ve rounded up seven of the most affordable vacation destinations. Exotic places you didn’t know were in your budget. Awesome U.S. cities with more bang for your buck. The next time you’re stressed over lesson plans, faculty meetings and testy parents—stop! Just imagine yourself sipping cocktails, dipping your feet in the ocean without a care in the world. Then smile because it’s not a daydream—it’s a soon-to-be reality!
If you love love adventure (hello rain forests, Mayan mountains and jungles) or just want to sit close to the water (their beautiful beaches are perfect for fishing and diving too), Belize is one of the most versatile destinations around. Best of all, it’s packed with affordable resorts featuring every amenity you could want—casinos, bars, pools, beach activities and upscale dining—for $100 or less per night. Some favorites: George Hardie’s Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. You can go between beautiful beaches and jaw dropping rain forests to charming, small towns nestled between volcanoes—and it won’t bankrupt you! The country has a system of national parks and reserves that protects approximately 25% of the country. To explore them, it’s only a few dollars to enter and you can go on free self-guided walks where you can encounter wildlife and more. Public transportation is also cheap—buses cost less than $10, even for long rides between cities/attractions. As for accommodations, it all depends on what you prefer. A hostel can cost as little as $9 a night while a mid-range hotel is between $50-$75 and a luxury resort is usually in the $100-200 range.
3. Dallas, Texas
Yes, Austin is the buzzy, favorite child of Texas but Dallas deserves lots of love too! It’s packed with fun, food and great places to stay at shockingly low prices. Rent a car to check out all the city has to offer including fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano that have lots of small town charm. You can stay at luxurious hotels like the Omni Dallas for under $200 a night and check out a list of cheap activities and places to eat here!
4. The Grand Canyon
If you’re willing to BYOB (as in bring your own bed)—camping instead of staying at a pricey hotel can be a unique and even life changing experience. You can also bring your own food and drinks, another plus that saves you money. If camping isn’t you thing, you can nab great hotel deals in Flagstaff, Arizona (about 90 miles from the South Rim) and Kanab, Utah (80 miles from the North Rim). And then take advantage of all the free Grand Canyon activities—ranger programs, visitor centers, museums, scenic drives, hiking trails and more!
5. Jacksonville, Florida
If you want a Florida vacay without the crazy theme parks like in Orlando or the glitz and expensive tastes of South Beach, Jacksonville is a hidden—and super affordable—gem. Beaches? Check! Fun attractions (with or without kids)? Check! Great food and culture? Check! And, of course lots of bargain priced hotels right on the beach!
One of the best things about Jamaica is how much the locals love showing off their island and taking care of tourists. From the world renowned beaches to the incredible mountains (the Blue Mountains to be exact, as in where the most incredible coffee in the world comes from), it doesn’t cost much to stay, eat and play. You can find Airbnb’s in the center of everything for as little as $25 a night and by eating at delicious local restaurants, you can spend less than $40 a day on food.
Cruising can actually be one of the most rewarding, relaxing and affordable ways to get in a vacation. Shorter cruises (3-4 days) on some of the older (but still beautiful and full of amenities you expect) ships of notable lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian can cost around $100 per night. Once you’re on board, the ship offers everything from food to entertainment plus you get to stop in great ports like the Bahamas, Baja Mexico and the Western Caribbean.
Know of more affordable vacations for teachers? Please share your ideas in the comments. We’d love to hear.