You work really hard day in and day out and, alas, you’re in dire need for a break. But in the midst of the 1000 other piling to-dos on your list, planning a vacation seems to always make it dead last. After all, shouldn’t a holiday be relaxing? One of the most stressful parts of planning a vacation is budgeting. You want a top-dollar experience, but want to do it with cheap international flights and a nickel-and-dime budget. Trust us, we get it! Believe it or not, there are plenty of places where you can relax, unwind and party hearty, without having to break that piggy bank. We’ve gathered up a list of places where you can vacation like a royal while on the budget of a pauper. Take a look!
Best time to visit: January – April
With year-long temperatures of 75-85 degree weather (Fahrenheit), there’s no secret as to why Barbados makes the top of this list. What makes this island unique in comparison to its other popular Caribbean holiday destinations, is both its safety and its affordability. Vacationers here often explore independently as opposed to buying into organized excursions through their hotels or tour packages, cutting costs significantly. Believe it or not, there is actually a tremendous amount to see and do in Barbados, beyond just going to one of their many beaches and surfing in that perfectly turquoise water. Take part in the smashing nightlife, walk through their UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital or breathe in the frangipanis in one of their many beautiful interior gardens. Most resorts and villas here are all-inclusive, meaning for as low as $90 a night you can lounge in a private villa, on the beach with a drink in hand and not a worry in the world (hopefully).
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Best time to visit: October – February
From stunning temples to 24-hour bazaars, private beaches to cascading waterfalls, Chiang Mai is not only a beautiful and riveting vacation destination… it’s also an affordable one! Luxury hotels/resorts here start at prices as low as $60/night and are bursting at the seams with amenities such as nothing short of exuberant, with amenities such as infinity pools, zen spas, hanging gardens, elaborate (and included) meals, and the friendliest customer service you could ask for (just to name a few). Be sure to come here with plenty of time, because there’s a never-ending list of things to do and see! Choose from a plethora of privately guided tours (complete with a personal, English-speaking tour guide and private vehicle transport to and from your hotel) so you can feel like a VIP as you meander through the 30+ temples in the center-city, enjoy a six-course dinner of northern Thai specialties, and spend a day playing with elephants, all for under $200 a day! Oh, and while you’re here, don’t forget to try the tasty, local specialty khao soi, a curried noodle soup!
Best time to visit: May – August
With a solid infrastructure, a bustling and thriving tourism industry and a vast variety of choices in affordable luxury hotels, South Africa is a great place for those of you looking for an opulent foreign adventure, without breaking the bank. Love wine? For less than the cost of a can of soda, you can indulge in some of the best, locally produced wines. Once you’ve toured the many vineyards the region has to offer and have had your fill of relaxation and imbibing, make your way to a safari adventure. During the winter months (May-July), not only are animal sightings better thanks to the cooler temperatures, but prices are lower as well! You can book a private lodge at places such as the Samara Private Game Reserve for as little at $165 per night! While most travelers choose to fly into Johannesburg as their flight destination, consider booking your ticket to Durban or Cape Town– it might save you a pretty penny! While you’re in Cape Town, take a ride on the Aerial Cableway along Table Mountain, one of Cape Town’s most legendary sites, and experience unparalleled views of the entire city. Take a stroll through Greenmarket Square or Camps Bay or head to Clifton beach, you’ll see all the natural splendor of the region, without feeling like you’ve missed out on any of the must-see attractions or experiences.
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Best time to visit: March – May or September – October
How does a lush, peaceful courtyard, jacuzzi tub with massage jets, ornate interior decor, more markets than you will have time to visit, and a breakfast of pancakes, fresh fruit juices and smoothies, and unlimited mint tea sound? Experience it all in Morocco. Live in absolute opulence at one of the many budget-friendly boutique hotels, complete with a four-poster, king-sized bed and breakfast included. For you foodies out there, this is the place to go if you’re looking to feast like a king for less than that caramel macchiato just cost you. Meals here range from $2.50 – $15 for two, and typically include appetizers, entrees and unlimited Moroccan mint tea (YUM). After a night of gastronomic bliss, sunbathing and luxurious relaxation, gather up your energy and prepare to embrace that shopaholic in you, as you head to the innumerable souks (Arab marketplaces) where you can put your bargaining skills to the test. Especially known for its huge (and comparatively inexpensive) leather goods merchandise, treat yourself to handmade wallets and handbags for as little as $5!
Have you been on a luxury vacation that didn’t break the bank? Tell us all about it in the comments below!