Ahhh, affordable vacations. Is there such a thing? Vacation is what we dream about, 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 got you.
We’ve rounded up ten amazing affordable vacation destinations. Exotic places you didn’t know were in your budget. Awesome US cities with more bang for your buck. The next time you’re stressed over lesson plans, faculty meetings, or testy parents—stop! Just imagine yourself discovering a new little corner of the world. Then smile because it’s not a daydream—it’s a soon-to-be reality!
1. South Haven, Michigan
Find your escape in this charming beach town on Michigan’s west coast. From award-winning wineries and charming boutiques and restaurants to the beautiful natural scenery of Lake Michigan, you’ll find something for everyone in South Haven. Accommodations, from bed & breakfasts to cottages to hotels, are plentiful and range in price to fit every budget. Be sure to take a stroll to the Lighthouse Boardwalk. You’ll find a beautiful vista point to watch the beachgoers on one side and the ships coming into port on the other.
2. Tucson, Arizona
If Scottsdale is the glitzy gallery and nightlife capital of Arizona, Tucson is its laid-back little sister. Nestled in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by multiple mountain ranges, including the Santa Catalinas, Tucson is home to stunning outdoor adventures as well as thriving arts, culture, and foodie scenes. For a taste of the old Wild West, drive 90 miles south to the historic mining town of Bisbee. There you’ll find galleries, museums, and fascinating historical sites.
3. Oregon Coast
Oregon’s western coastline is one of the best kept road trip secrets in America. Drive along Highway 101 to experience nearly 400 miles of jagged cliffs, pine forests, historic lighthouses, and sandy beaches. From the iconic Cannon Beach and its Haystack Rock, the most photographed landmark along the coast, down through Seal Rock to Brookings Harbor, you’ll find more than two dozen charmingly unique beach destinations.
4. Dallas, Texas
Dallas is a dazzling city 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. Check out this list of cheap activities and places to eat while you’re there!
5. The Grand Canyon
If you’re willing to BYOB (as in bring your own bed), you can have a unique and even life-changing experience camping at the Grand Canyon. Bringing your own food and drinks also saves money. If camping isn’t your 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). Take advantage of all the free Grand Canyon activities—ranger programs, visitor centers, museums, scenic drives, hiking trails, and more!
6. Sanibel Island–Captiva Island, Florida
If you’re looking for an island paradise getaway close to home, Sanibel and Captiva are the perfect hot spots to check out. Located off the west coast of Fort Myers, they are easily accessible and offer a wide variety of lodging options in every price range. You’ll find world-class shelling beaches, crystal-clear turquoise Caribbean waters, lots of great restaurants, and funky shops. You can even take a four-mile bike ride through the pristine Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.
If you love adventure (hello, rain forests, Mayan mountains, and jungles) or just want to sit close to the water (beautiful beaches that are perfect for fishing and diving), 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.
8. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. You can travel between beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping rain forests, and 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 percent of the country. 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, a mid-range hotel is between $50–$75, and a luxury resort is usually in the $100–$200 range.
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 an Airbnb in the center of everything for as little as $25 a night. 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 onboard, 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? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out our list of Disney teacher discounts.