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We all know travel can be sublime, relaxing, ridiculously fun and even life changing. But can travel really be affordable? While that’s a relative question, we’ve rounded up 13 fantastically inexpensive destinations that you should try to visit this year, from an exotic locale that lets you ply its waterways on a houseboat (affordably!) to an unsung American beach town.

RELATED: 10 great hotels for when you’re young, broke and awesome

City hall and Place Jacques-Cartier in Montreal, Quebec

Montreal, Canada

The US dollar is still pretty strong against the Canadian dollar, and where else can you feel a world away so close to home? We love Montreal for its European vibe, great art and music scenes, and vast and varied dining options. Foodie to-do lists should include noshing on one of the city’s famous hot, fresh bagels from St. Viateur, indulging in poutine at La Banquise or canard en conserve at Au Pied de Cochon, and sampling cheese, chocolates and more at Jean-Talon Market. Interesting hotel options abound here, too, including the Hotel Epik Montreal, which is housed in an old stone-walled warehouse in the city’s historic Vieux Port neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Sreekrishna Houseboats

Kerala, India

India has been a budget traveler’s mecca for decades now. And while picking just one destination in this huge, diverse, beautiful country is a tall order, we especially love the Kerala backwaters for its one-of-a-kind houseboat experiences. You can rent a boat like this one (get one with an upper deck for added privacy), and have your own chef, captain and boat boy at your service. Essentially, it’s a private yacht experience for much, much less money! Once aboard, you’ll cruise the canals, floating past fishing villages, colorful houses and paddy fields. We promise this will be one of the most relaxing and unforgettable travel experiences you’ll ever have.

Folly Beach, South Carolina.

Folly Beach, SC

This Atlantic gem makes for a great, affordable day trip from Charleston (about 20 minutes to the north) or a long weekend in its own right. Already a regional favorite for families, Folly Beach brings in summer vacationers with sun, sand and surf, plus a nice variety of restaurants and fun shops along Center Street. If you’re up for more than just lounging, though, try your hand at kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing on the pier, boating and some of the seriously best surfing on the East Coast.

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico

Ditch the beaches for once and instead give Mexico’s underrated second city the attention it deserves. The old city is infused with the sounds of mariachi bands and attractions like the Guadalajara Cathedral and the Mercado San Juan de Dios. Meanwhile, there’s the Providencia neighborhood, a hipster mecca and home to quirky shops and happening eateries like Cappucino’s 96. The state of Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila so be sure and spend a day among endless fields of blue agave and sampling tequila at big name producers like Cazadores, Cuervo and Herradura.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

The US dollar is still strong against the British pound thanks to Brexit, so the UK is still more affordable than ever for US travelers. But instead of pricey London, why not check out a gorgeous Scottish city like Edinburgh? Edinburgh Castle is the main attraction here, but you’ll also want to take on the Royal Mile, a scenic walk from the castle to Parliament through Old Town, and make the hike up to Calton Hill to take in breathtaking views of the city. Meanwhile, the trendy Leith neighborhood is great place to duck into a pub for a whisky or beer, or feast on some haggis—we dare you!

Beautiful coastal waters around Destin Florida

The Florida Panhandle

Cheap and cheerful, the Panhandle offers a little something for everyone. Enjoy a whiff of the cosmopolitan in downtown Pensacola; powdery white sand beaches in Destin; spring break antics in Panama City; camping, hiking and canoeing in Tate’s Hell State Forest; and quirky small towns like Seaside and Apalachicola. Much of the region caters to families and the budget-minded, including bargain hotels, irresistible happy hour deals and a plethora of ebullient and wallet-friendly seafood eateries right on the water.

ALSO: See more of the world for less—sign up for CheapCash today!


In 1942, Casablanca captured the imaginations of millions of Americans. Morocco was portrayed as an exciting, mysterious, exotic locale where anything can happen. The intrigue has yet to wane. Besides the must-see cities of Fes and Casablanca, all eyes are on Marrakesh, thanks to the interesting new YSL Museum, dedicated to the life’s work of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Add to the mix a new art fair, new galleries and a spate of shiny new hotels, and this could be a banner year for the city.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

SLC made our list for its reasonable hotel prices, easy access to some of the best skiing in the country, and a quick hop to breathtaking National Parks (think Bryce Canyon, Arches and Zion—all less than five hours away). Not so outdoorsy? No, problem. Be sure to catch a sunset over Great Salt Lake, explore Temple Square and check out the city’s robust film, art, dining and bar scenes.

Jamaica island, Montego Bay


Jamaica was left more or less untouched by last season’s spate of deadly hurricanes. And while that’s a great reason to make it your next tropical getaway, we also love that destinations such as Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios have plenty of affordable hotels and budget-minded all-inclusive resorts. And lest you think this is just another “could be anywhere” beach destination, makes sure you leave the resort long enough to catch a reggae show in the place where the genre was born, tour picturesque  sugar cane and coffee plantations, or hike your way around stunning natural areas like the  Blue Mountains or Dunn’s River Falls.

Sofia, capital of Bulgaria


Tourism in the cheap and enchanting Balkan States has surged in recent years, but you don’t have to rush to Croatia just because all your friends are doing it. Bulgaria boasts plenty of Black Sea coastline and sun seeker-ready beaches to go with it. There’s also ancient monasteries, beguiling mountain ranges (the country is a skiier’s paradise), glacial lakes and the Instagrammable (check out the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral) and easy to navigate capital city of Sofia. The country also boasts, ahem, fewer Americans.

Looking out of a balcony “window” into the La Placita village and downtown Tucson city skyline.

Tucson, AZ

A multi-culti blend of Mexican, European and Native American influences, sun-drenched Tucson has it all. Hemmed in on both sides by the stunning and mesmerizing Saguaro National Park (think a wide range of hiking plus attractions like Old Tucson Studios and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum) the city’s fun, funky and approachable dining and nightlife scene is not to be missed. Hit up eateries like 5 Points Market and Restaurant, Agustín Kitchen, Penca and HUB Creamery, and spend your nights boozing it up at places like the Congress Hotel and Owl’s Club.


It doesn’t cost much to find yourself on amazing beaches like this in the Philippines | Photo by

The Philippines

Airfare to this nation of islands (well over 7,000 of them, in fact) is every penny pincher’s biggest budget conundrum, but once that hurdle is leapt, expect an extremely wallet-friendly tropical paradise. Sure, its president has authoritarian tendencies and takes pleasure in attacking the media, but the Philippines are safe and the country has much to offer the budget traveler, including surreal island scenery, unbelievable snorkeling and diving, rich treasures in the capital city of Manila and jaw-dropping prices including respectable hotels for as little as $30/nightly and hearty meals for under $5.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas has had a sad, challenging year, but don’t let that deter you from a visit. The city still thrums with activity 24/7 and can be a steal if you play your cards right (get it?). Hint: Bargains abound off-Strip so book a room at the oh, so happening Hard Rock, check out cheap gaming at the Orleans and hit the beautiful—and free—rooftop pool at the Downtown Grand. Penny pinchers would be wise to enjoy the many natural offerings just beyond city limits and do take a gander at the selfie-worthy desert art installation “7 Magic Mountains” before it disappears later this year.


Tagged: Caribbean, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, Top 10 list

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

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Can you guess how much vacation time goes unused every year? While that figure varies wildly from state to state, the national average is 54%, according to Project Time Off, a broad coalition of travel-related organizations. According to their study, every year, Americans collectively leave 662 million days of vacation on the table, at a loss of $128 billion to the economy and a loss of 100% to our sanity.

RELATED: 9 places budget travelers are flocking to right now

Below are the states where workers let the highest percentage of vacation days go unused. And because we know it can be hard to get away—time, money, work!—we’ve also listed an easy but rejuvenating quick escape for residents of these overworked states.

Historic shops and restaurants buildings in the Old Montreal district in Quebec Canada

10. Vermont (64%)

The Green Mountain State’s a pretty beautiful place, so we can see why you Vermonters don’t get out much but come on—we all need a break! So pack up the car and make the two-hour drive up to Montreal to feel a world away, s’il vous plaît. Book a stay at the elegant new Le Mont Stephen, housed in a historic private club in Montréal’s Golden Square Mile. Indulge in a spa treatment there, or venture out to skate the new Lachine Canal Ice Skating Rink, hike up Mount Royal or indulge in local specialties such as poutine at La Banquise or canard en conserve at Au Pied de Cochon. The music scene is outstanding here, too, so be sure to check a local publication like Cult MTL to see what’s on.

Sunset over Denver

9. Kansas (64%)

You’re literally in the center of the country, Kansas, so why aren’t you getting out more? If you can bear to part with your most excellent barbecue for a weekend, make the eight-hour drive to the Mile High City for a ski and culture getaway—several great ski resorts are only about an hour or so from downtown Denver, including Arapahoe and Loveland. Make the stylish new Kimpton Hotel Born Denver your urban home base; it’s just a two-minute walk from Union Station in the happening LoDo neighborhood and you’ll be treated to free bike use, a rooftop patio, in-room massages (for a fee) and beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.

Downtown Minneapolis

8. Nebraska (66%)

While folks on the coasts sometimes like to think of the Midwest as one big homogeneous (and, let’s face it, dull) landlocked region, that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why we’re recommending you non-vacation-taking Nebraskans plan an escape to Minneapolis. Adventurous Cornhuskers will find all kind of cool things that you just can’t get at home: Just think Prince’s Paisley Park, the famed Walker Museum, this year’s Super Bowl and more Minnesota Nice than you can shake a stick at.

7. Wyoming (66%)

Wyomingites, take a quick break from being so cool and rugged, OK? Everybody needs a vacation now and then. Why not explore your own backyard and revisit Jackson. Book a few nights at the new Anvil Hotel, which is housed in a converted 1950s motel and was recently described by Bloomberg as a “Wild West dude ranch for hipsters.” That said, you don’t have to be a hipster to love this place: It puts you within 20 minutes of the ski lifts, surrounded by views of the Tetons, with Yellowstone at your feet.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

6. Montana (67%)

Home to both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, Montana is a nature lover’s paradise. That said, it might be time for you Montanans to shake things up with a flashy urban escape to Las Vegas, so you actually feel like you’ve gone somewhere. Hotels in Sin City are famously a steal and flights from Missoula, Billings and Great Falls often go for between $100–$150. Even if you’re not the gambling type, you’ll appreciate the city’s top-notch hotel pools, exciting shows and interesting attractions such as the High Roller Observations Wheel, Mob Museum and Neon Museum. Or just spend hours marveling at the endless sights and sounds of the Strip.

ALSO: Vacations are just a bit more affordable when you’ve got CheapCash—sign up today!

Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas Texas

5. Oklahoma (69%)

You Oklahomans aren’t far from… well, anywhere. But if you’re looking for a quick getaway, try Dallas. There’s a reason the city’s turned up on so many 2018 “best of” lists, plus it’s easily accessed via a quick, cheap flight (often $99 or so round trip) or even a reasonable mini-road trip (about 4.5 hours). Once in the Big D, you can catch a concert or outdoor film at Klyde Warren Park, explore the vast Arts District or take your pick of the city’s many incredible dining options. You’ll also want to hit some of the city’s excellent museums, including the Sixth Floor Museum, which covers the JFK assassination, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

Beautiful Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park

4. South Dakota (73%)

We admire your tireless work ethic, South Dakotans, but imagine how productive you’d be if you just took a long weekend to refresh. We know you’ve probably seen Mount Rushmore at least a half dozen time already, so why not opt for a romantic Black Hills getaway? Plan your trip around Custer State Park’s 70-mile Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, where you’ll wind past the state’s signature spiraled “pigtail bridges,” stone-walled tunnels, the striking Needles Eye rock formation and beautiful Sylvan Lake. Stop for a romantic picnic and keep your eyes peeled for majestic wildlife before settling in for the night at the Summer Creek Inn & Spa, where you can cozy up by the in-room fireplace or have a soak in the hot tub.

Mount Rainier National Park

3. Alaska (73%)

Alright, Alaskans. We understand your geographic position makes a quick, close getaway a little more complicated. But why not spend a long weekend (or more) in Seattle? That’s a 3.5-hour flight that you can usually land for under $300. Book a stay at the luxurious Theodore Hotel, a downtown Seattle landmark that puts you just six blocks from the city’s number one attraction, Pike Place Market. From here, the Space Needle and top museums aren’t far afield, and you’ll definitely want to save time for exploring nearby Olympic National Park, as well as Mt. Rainier.

Banks of Hudson River and Freedom Tower

2. New Hampshire (77%)

New Hampshire certainly has its charms, but the work gods granted those vacation days for a reason, guys. We’re jealous that you’re a mere 4.5-hour drive from New York City, so that’s our pick. It’s one of the few destinations on earth that you could revisit 100 times and never run out of incredible new things to do—Broadway shows, the High Line, Central Park, some of the world’s best museums, best restaurants, best bars, best sightseeing… OK, New York just might have the best everything. If you haven’t been in a while, book your room in the burgeoning NoMad area, which saw a slew of incredible new hotel openings this past year. One of our favorites is the Life Hotel, housed in the former LIFE Magazine office. It’s a charming, reasonably-priced, 98-room boutique hotel with an intimate basement bar that once served as a speakeasy for journalists during Prohibition.

The Sawtooth Range sits in the distance behind a meadow.

1. Idaho (78%)

Mountains, canyons, waterfalls, rolling hills, lakes and even high desert… Idaho’s natural beauty is definitely underrated as a domestic travel destination. But what’s the point of living among all that beauty if you never a take a day off to enjoy it? For a great ski getaway, head to Twin Falls near the Sawtooth Mountains. In warmer months, McCall’s is the place to be for watersports on the lake, hot springs and hiking.


Tagged: Destinations, Last minute travel, Top 10 list

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Summer is all about picnics and beaches, fireworks and hammock time, dining outdoors and planning the best windows-down, feet-up road trip of your life. But this year, be sure to leave a little room on your calendar for the rest of this summer’s fare, ranging from rare concerts to the search for an even rarer musician. Here’s the best of what’s on this summer, and don’t forget: You can get tickets for a lot of these events, and more, right here on CheapTickets.

RELATED: Want to road trip across America? Here’s how.

Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey: Various cities and dates

This is exactly what it sounds like. Go for Lionel’s velvety voiced ’80s love songs or sit back and hope to see a surreal Mariah moment live.

Flickr CC: Tracy Sorensen

Tupelo Elvis Festival: Tupelo, MS (June 1-4)

Pompadoured bands battle to pay a peanut-butter-and-banana tribute to the King of Rock ’N’ Roll.

Pridefest: Milwaukee, WI (June 9-11)

Devoted, unpaid volunteers run this annual festival and conference in Milwaukee—it’s one of the largest LGBTQ events in the country.

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon: San Francisco, CA (June 12)

If you only do one triathlon this summer, do the one following the footsteps of fleeing Rock prisoners. You’ll never San Francisco like this again.

Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo: Prescott, AZ (June 28-July 4)

The vaunted “World’s Oldest Rodeo” in Prescott features pretty much everything a rodeo should: horse racing, steer wrestling—even team roping, aka “team bonding.”

UFO Festival: Roswell, NM (June 29-July 2)

Is there life on other planets? While Matthew McConaughey figures that out, enjoy the city’s UFO museum and colorful alien parades held in the very town that launched a thousand conspiracy theories.

Hans Zimmer: Grand Prairie, TX (July 13), various other cites (April 14–Jun 27)

Finally, you’re Batman! The man who scored his recent films—and other Christopher Nolan works like Inception and Interstellar—will be accompanying you with Dark Knight tunes.

Michigan Summer Beer Festival: Ypsilanti, MI (July 21-22)

More than 100 breweries. More than 1,000 beers, just 20 minutes from Ann Arbor. Next event…

Flickr CC: Orin Zebest

Renegade Craft Fair: Seattle, WA (July 22-23)

Whatever you’re wearing, carrying, or hanging on your wall pales in comparison to the hundreds of DIY goods sold at this annual Seattle fair (essentially a real-life Etsy shop).

The Great Texas Mosquito Festival: Clute, TX (July 27-29)

About an hour outside Houston, country music, comedy, cook-offs, and senior citizen’s bingo await those who didn’t aggressively die from the Zika virus.

Just for Laughs: Montreal, QC (July 12-31)

The biggest industry comedy festival in the world attracts the biggest stars. While this year’s lineup won’t be announced until May, past years have included big names like Seth Rogan, Sarah Silverman and David Cross. Expect a non-stop parade of amazing comedians, plus a literal parade featuring kid-friendly games and shows.

Summer Youth Day at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire: Manheim, PA (Aug 3)

At this fest held in Lancaster County, kids forego the jousting and tipsy knife-throwing of a traditional renaissance faire, instead opting to learn songs for the “princess,” and transform into pawns in a life-size human chess match. Check (it out)!

Flickr CC: Fuzzy Gerdes

Lollapalooza: Chicago, IL (Aug 3-6)

The biggest music festival with the biggest of shoulders, Chicago once again hosts Lollapalooza—four days of non-stop music and non-stop bathroom line-waiting. Arcade Fire, The Killers, and bad boys Blink-182 are some of the many, many bands.

ALSO: No need to plan for CheapCash—just book a flight and it’s yours, good towards hotels!

Flickr CC: pangeashellfish

Milford Oyster Festival: Milford, CT (August 19)

They say oysters are a natural aphrodisiac. And by “they,” I mean anecdotal consensus with no real bearing. They’re friggin’ delicious though, and shuckers up and down the East Coast have brought their finest to the New Haven area.


Tagged: Events, Festivals, Top 10 list

Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

Latest posts by Steve Heisler (see all)