Material things don’t matter half as much as experience. Having nice clothes or a better model car can’t match the lessons we learn from traveling, and the beautiful thing is, those lessons can never be taken away from us. Travel experiences stick with us and take us out of our element (and sometimes even our comfort zones) by putting us in situations which force us to challenge ourselves. Whether it’s a rigorous jungle hike or sitting beachside and watching the local birds dive for fish, travel opens up our perceptions of the world.
So stop dreaming and start traveling! Here are 5 hot destinations for traveling on a budget.
1. Cook Islands
Known as the “Secret of the Pacific,” the Cook Islands are compromised of 15 sparsely populated islands covered in verdant hills and white beaches. They might be remote, but traveling to this azure paradise on a budget isn’t as far off as you might think. Grab plane tickets at just the right time of year and this is a dream vacation any smart spender can afford. Like Hawaii (which it actually shares a time zone with), the Cook Islands were formed by volcanic activity. Only these islands cover a total land mass comparable to India, even though the population is only 15,000.
Tip: Make sure you book accommodation before you arrive, because they may send you back on the next flight out if not! And no camping on these beautiful beaches is allowed.
2. Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Located in the Caribbean Sea, although only 5 miles from Tortola, Saint John’s is a pristine gem. It’s the least developed of the US Virgin Islands; two-thirds of the island is protected as a national parkland! The island’s main city, Cruz Bay, is a bustling (as bustling as the Caribbean can be) center. With a year-round temperature of 85 degrees, Saint John is a dream vacation destination. If you book your ticket a few months in advance you can be sure to find great deals.
Tip: Lodging in a small beachside cabin at Cinnamon Bay is the ideal way to truly unwind and the prices are very easy on your wallet!
3. Costalegre, Mexico
Costalegre isn’t a town but a series of quiet beaches along the Pacific Coast stretching over 150 miles, sandwiched between the more popular Mexico travel destinations Puerto Vallarta to the north and Mazanillo to the south. “Costelegre” translates to “Coast of Joy,” but the area is best known by locals as the “Virgin Coast” because it is a best-kept secret. Costalegre is perfect for a private and a bit back-to-basics vacation.
Tip: Find off the radar accommodations at Journey Mexico.
4. Caye Caulker, Belize
This beautiful island is teeny tiny! Measuring 5 miles by 1 mile, it’s enough to walk around, yet, when you land here you won’t want to do much. Grab a snorkel—the nearby Blue Hole Natural Monument is a world class diving and snorkeling location. Or simply cozy up in a hammock on the beach, Caye Caulker’s place is slow and easygoing. Accommodations can be as low as $10 a night!
Tip: Shoes are a no no on this island, so keep your sandals at home.
5. Marrakesh, Morocco
If beaches aren’t your favorite way to enjoy a warm vacation, Marrakesh is my absolute favorite alternative. Known as the “Pink City” for the beautiful clay walls that line the city inside and out, it’s like traveling back in time. Visit the souk, or market, for great finds on beautiful handwoven rugs and traditional lamps, or relax and be pampered in an authentic Moroccan hammam. Bring an open attitude and you will find a wealth of helpful, kind and beautiful citizens.
Tip: Be sure to visit the Medina, the old city, but leave breadcrumbs or bring a great sense of direction because the narrow streets are labyrinth-like!
Related on Ecosalon: