From Europe to the Americas, here’s where to go before Labor Day to save money and see more this summer.
Between incredible gas prices, unpredictable and unreliable flights, and staff shortages across tourism, it’s a difficult time to travel. However, the demand for adventure has never been higher. Years of lockdown have prompted everyone to get out of town as soon as possible. If you’ve got your eyes on the road but don’t want to spend a month’s salary on a getaway, you’re in luck. We spoke to travel experts who recommended the best budget-friendly destinations – from Europe to the Americas – that offer an unforgettable experience without breaking the bank.
Here’s a look at the top 8 picks for late summer 2022:
Cabo San Lucas
For travelers who want to spend time at the beach, summer and fall are great times to consider a trip to Cabo San Lucas, says Alex Simon, CEO and co-founder of Evade. This unique West Coast destination is split between two countries: one half in the United States (located in California) and the other half in Mexico. Here you can stay in a variety of hotels at varying prices, overlooking the rugged – and beautiful – cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. Take long walks on the beach, set sail to experience Lover’s Beach and indulge in freshly caught seafood. If you are lucky you may even see a whale towards the end of the summer season.
Simon explains that travelers may see higher prices in Cabo during the winter months as more people try to escape the cold northern temperatures and fewer people visit in the warmer months. To save even more, he recommends booking at least a month or two in advance to get great airfares.
Corresponding FORA Travel Advisor Rebecca Dangler, Portland, Maine is a summer haven for affordable travel. If you are in or near New England, this charming city offers inexpensive activities such as: For example, sitting on the beach, walking the boardwalk, or eating a lobster roll by the water. Dangler recommends stocking up on affordable breakfast treats in the morning and then exploring the two famous lighthouses — Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge — that overlook the northeast coast.
“Hurry back to the East End for Happy Hour for delicious deals at The Shop by Island Creek Oysters. At just $1.50 an oyster, this is the cheapest place to enjoy a dozen delicious Maine flavors,” she adds. And if you want to see more of Maine, The Amtrak Downeaster takes travelers to five different Portland locations: Wells, Saco, Old Orchard, Freeport, and Brunswick, and adult fares start at just $6 roundtrip.
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of Greece’s scenic seascapes: white buildings and murky blue-green waters. But although Greece used to be an affordable travel destination, it has risen in price in recent years. Luckily, you can find many of the same views and fresh catches in the nearby country of Croatia. Simon says this destination is growing in popularity but continues to offer beautiful beaches, fascinating history and Hollywood vibes without breaking the bank. “For many years, the country has remained off the beaten track by many travelers as it was part of Yugoslavia until 1991,” he shares. “While airfares have skyrocketed in other parts of Europe, Croatia is a great Adriatic option for travelers looking to experience all it has to offer.”
Canada has been slower than most countries to recover from its pandemic travel slump due to its recently lifted stringent regulations, which means tourism demand and prices are slightly lower, said Greg Buzulencia, CEO and Founder of About hero. For those looking for a summer vacation that’s both affordable and dynamic, Quebec City really has it all. “An idyllic, cobblestone historic district that feels like a charming European village, a gastronomic scene to rival France itself, tons of outdoor opportunities within 45 minutes of the city (many of which are free!) and cooler temperatures to escape mid-summer heatwaves,” he shares.
Don’t want to fly? Depending on the zip code you are calling home you may not need to do this. “The drive from the Northeast US is quite doable as it’s five hours from Boston/Portland and eight hours from NYC,” he adds. The exchange rate is also in your favour; Right now everything in Canada costs around 20% less than in the United States.
In general, Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western or Southern Europe. This region of the continent has many must-see cities, including Prague in the Czech Republic and Budapest in Hungary, but a hidden gem is Kraków in Polan, according to Dan Demsky, founder of Unbound Merino Wool. “With cheap food and affordable accommodation, Eastern European destinations are great destinations for budget travelers. Most things cost a fraction of what you would pay in the West,” he adds.
In Krakow, you can easily explore beautiful cathedrals and synagogues, visit museums, explore beautiful parks and much more.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Despite rising travel costs in Europe, Portugal remains an affordable destination for city and beach travelers, according to Dangler. “While the summer crowds flock to the southern Algarve, savvy travelers should visit the Douro Valley, Portugal’s stunning wine region, instead,” she shares.
Here, for around €60 a night, you can stay in resort-style hotels, tour tasting rooms and vineyards, and dine at local hangouts that offer excellent food at no extra charge.
Though Mexico City is south of the border, it often has cooler summers than most destinations in the United States, thanks to the city’s 7,000-foot elevation, Buzulencia says. He also notes that flights from major American hubs often cost under $400 and the exchange rate is so strong that you have to struggle to spend more than $10 per meal in all but the fanciest of restaurants. “Getting around is easy – Uber is reliable and typically doesn’t cost more than a NYC subway ride. You can book a nice Airbnb for as little as $45/night if you’re willing to book a month or two in advance,” he enthuses. The subway system is reliable, safe, and inexpensive, about a quarter a ride.
Once there, you can explore the vibrant food scene, picnic in many lush, green parks, and live like a local in neighborhoods like San Rafael, Coyoacan, Juarez, or Narvarte.
Whether you plan to visit Cartagena, Cali, Medellin or Bogota, airfares are in your favor this summer, according to Buzulencia. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400 and end up in one of the most diverse countries in the world. It has two oceans, different climates, energetic cities, amazing wildlife and a vibrant cultural and gastronomic scene, he enthuses. “To state the obvious, it’s not narco country anymore that advertises lower crime rates than many big cities in the US, but maybe the flights are cheap because not everyone knows that yet,” she says. “Go now, before the secret is revealed.”
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