Cheap Vacation Ideas: 19 Budget Trips for 2019
Sometimes the hardest part of planning a vacation is answering the question "where should I go on vacation?" The beach? Overseas? The Great Outdoors? And where to go if you want to avoid spending a bundle?
Don't be overwhelmed—start using these cheap vacation ideas to inspire wanderlust, or head over to Groupon Getaways to browse live deals across the country and the world.
1. Lake Tahoe
While Tahoe ski resorts can be pricey, the rest of the area is marked by charming state parks that offer sensational natural beauty for a fraction of the cost. Stand high above the Lake at Emerald Bay State Park, accessible for a small parking fee.
2. Myrtle Beach
Traveling with family? One of your best cheap vacation ideas is Myrtle Beach, with its bustling, boardwalk, amusement parks, family restaurants, and arcades. And in the summer, there are several spots along the coast with beach access.
3. Florida Keys
Whether you want to meet (and swim with) dolphins in Islamorada or visit Hemingway’s old haunts in Key West, heading to Florida Keys is a great choice. Head during the spring to get the best rates on a cheap hotel, and to save money on airfare, just fly into Miami and drive the Overseas Highway.
Cancún: Hotel Deals
Cancún is the place to enjoy any water-sport activity imaginable, from snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding to sailing and Scuba diving. Sounds expensive? It’s cheaper than you might think—choose an all-inclusive resort to get the best bang for your buck. You could even bundle an all-inclusive resort with airfare (search for the ✈ symbol on Groupon Getaways Cancun deals).
5. Palm Springs
You can find some of the world's best spas for such treatments in Palm Springs, a 40s and 50s-style desert oasis for R&R, famous for its hot springs and golf courses. You might have to save up for a luxury spa session or a round of 18, but the desert also holds gorgeous state parks and retro-cool hotels that aren’t so expensive.
Around 11 million visitors come to Great Smoky National Park every year, and for good reason: entrance to the park is totally free. Spot black bears and elk, climb to the top of Clingmans Dome (the tallest point on the Appalachian Trail), and then head to kitschy Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge for a show. There are few inexpensive vacation ideas as family friendly as this.
Instead of more-expensive Napa Valley, try northern California’s Sonoma Valley, where you can still drive past picturesque vineyards and sample a scintillating variety of wines. Instead of lunching at a gourmet restaurant, try picnicing in a park, with a newly purchased bottle of Pinot Noir.
Jamaica: Hotel Deals
Want to go international, but not spend like you’re going to Europe? Grab one of our excellent deals to Jamaica, where you can dive off the cliff into the sea at the famous Rick's Cafe—or watch people do it instead.
9. Las Vegas
One of the best cheap vacation ideas...assuming you keep yourself to a reasonable budget at the casinos. If you've never been to Las Vegas, you might be surprised how affordable a trip to Sin City can be, especially with snatching a hotel room, which go as low as $19/night. And if you want to catch an affordable show, there are plenty of options under $50.
10. Atlantic City
You’ll find similar prices to Vegas in Atlantic City, which in the summer doubles as both a casino hotspot and a beach destination. Keep your gambling expenses to a set maximum and you'll find both spots should be well within your budget.
If you're headed to Alaska, you can visit Denali National Park—home to North America's tallest mountain—for only $10 a person, making it one of the best budget vacation ideas for the summer. If you live in a hot climate, it might be refreshing to enjoy Alaska’s summer climate, when average high temperatures in Anchorage hover around 60 degrees.
12. Cape Cod
It’s an East Coast peninsula dotted with charming, antique-laden towns, rustic state parks, postcard-esque coastlines, and seasonal whale watching. And it doesn’t have to be super expensive, if you find a hotel deal and stick to Cape Cod National Seashore, where the daily vehicle fee is only $20.
13. The Poconos
If mountains are more your style, try the Poconos of Pennsylvania, a scenic area with a number of romantic resorts and B&Bs. East Coasters have seen the Poconos as the perfect weekend getaway for decades, drawn by a number of small lakes and forested trails.
If you need to go overseas, consider exploring the stately art galleries and whimsical architecture of Spain. Since it’s one of continental Europe’s westernmost countries, Spain will typically cost less to fly to than other European countries. Add it’s not too expensive to eat out either! A meal in Madrid, on average, costs about 40% less than a meal in New York.
15. New Orleans
If some of our budget vacation ideas are a little too chilly for your taste (especially in the winter), head to the Big Easy, which is warm and welcoming during January, February, and March. The French influence here means you'll find plenty of delicious meals in candlelit restaurants.
16. Niagara Falls
Hey, for Americans, visiting Canada still counts as "going out of the country" for your vacation. Niagara Falls is your best bet for a budget international trip, since hotel deals there offer not only restaurant credits, but also vouchers for local entertainment and the casino. You also can pair a visit here with a trip out to the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, best known for its ice wine.
17. Austin, TX
It’s not known as a major vacation destination yet, but Austin is well worth spending a few days just for its food and music alone. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin boasts dozens of music venues (plus two major music festivals), and we bet you’ll be able to find a free show whenever you’re in town. It’s also rife with food trucks, as well as some of the best BBQ you’ll find in America.
You don’t hear a lot of people say they’re vacationing in Denver. But maybe they should? The Denver area is home to four major-league sports teams, the underrated Denver Museum of Art, and a scenic byway around nearby Mt. Evans. Plus, you’re only a few hours from a number of world-class skiing resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park.
If you have a travel bucket list, seeing the bright-green hills of Ireland has to be on it. And this might be a good opportunity for you to see it for yourself, since we often offer air-inclusive vacations for less than $1,000/person. Check here to find an Ireland trip that works for your budget.
You might be surprised which spots we picked for Illinois (it's not Chicago) and New York (it's not NYC).
We look at three types—yoga, weight-loss, and meditation retreats—to help determine the right resort for you.