Times are tough and travel is no exception. Though it feels like booking a gorgeous getaway is only for the rich, famous and those who never worry about the minimum in their bank accounts, you’d be shocked to discover just how easy booking a budget-friendly trip is.
And since you’re already on summer vacay, it makes sense to get rid of whatever cash you’ve got saved up for a beach- and beer-filled escape with your friends. Two words: Treat yo’self.
Check out the top 10 travel destinations that don’t skimp on fun and festivities and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get to (so you’ve funds to spare at happy hour!).
1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
In the DR, everything’s paid for with just one swipe of your credit card, which is the ultimate summer treat.
The tropical island is known for their all-inclusive and affordable vacation packages that take care of everything from airfare, ground travel, alcohol, down to your room stay so you don’t spend a minute stressing the financial burden travel typically has.
Once you’ve touched down, you can be happy every hour and take in over 35 miles of sandy white beaches, top-notch resorts, festive tropical drinks and sunshine.
2. Cancún, Mexico
If you want to drop serious cash, up-and-coming Mexican locales like Tulum and the Mayan Riviera would happily clear out your savings account, but you can score a baller trip on a budget if you stick to a city like Cancún.
Known as the quintessential student party city, you won’t have trouble keeping costs to a minimum while you tequila and taco your way into Mexican heaven. Just don’t drink the water.
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Know a little bit of Spanish and can map your way through a city? Get ready to fall in love with one of the sweetest US destinations around.
Round-trip airfare to Puerto Rico’s most notable city shouldn’t cost you more than $500 (even in the summer), so you’ll have money to spare on happy hours, trips through the city’s tropical rain forests and discovering centuries’ old ruins. Once you’ve seen the sites, hit the beach for booze and unlimited sun (you’ve earned it).
4. Denver, Colorado
Who said you’ve got to leave the country to take the trip of a lifetime? The Mile High City is known for its affordable college-friendly food and fun and whether you’re into hiking, swimming, rock climbing, drinking craft brews or enjoying Mary Jane in public, you’ll find a little something for everyone.
In the summer, travel is especially inexpensive because everyone else is headed for “warmer” weather – but here’s the thing: You’ll still catch a tan in Colorado, since the city sits thousands of feet above sea level and has gorgeous weather year round. Another reason to love it? You’ll skip the humidity entirely.
5. Bridgetown, Barbados
Forget your typical Jamaican stay or your cruise getaways. A trip to Barbados will earn you a lot for your money and bragging rights for booking the most luxurious vacation for your friends.
Most of the country is duty-free, which will save you cash on taxes and fees and hidden markets abound, where you can basically bargain your way into any purchase. Spend your days and nights on the beach – and keep an eye out for RiRi. She’s a ‘Bados local.
6. Florence, Italy
With its highbrow reputation and longstanding history as one of Italy’s most beautiful hidden gems, it’s kind of a surprise that more and more people don’t spend time in one of the most promising Italian cities.
From stunning street art, to carefully curated galleries, unlimited authentic pizzerias and breathtaking ancient runes, spending a week or two in Italy isn’t just a cultural experience.
The Tuscan city is home to delicious nightlife and clubs, so you and your friends can romance a few Italianos for one epic summer love story.
Even though you’ll spend a pretty penny on airfare, booking an affordable hotel, inn or villa won’t run you too much – and if you can survive on pizza for a week (Who couldn’t?), you’ll spend even less.
7. San Diego, California
Discover something beyond LA, San Fran and Tahoe. Aside from the fact that it’s basically summer year round, one of the most amazing hidden treats tucked away in the southern Californian city is the fact that fun things are free.
You can spend the day biking Mission Bay, walking along Oceanside Pier, visiting the La Jolla seals, drinking your way through Gaslamp Quarter, strolling Seaport Village and Balboa Park or trolleying through Old Town.
Once the sun sets, there’s plenty of beachfront boozing to keep you happy until tomorrow.
8. Dublin, Ireland
There are the typical European destinations, like Paris, Rome and London, and then there are the cities that almost everyone overlooks – case in point, Dublin.
Aside from the Guinness-serving pubs at every street corner, Ireland’s most desirable city is home to a budding cultural metropolis.
By day, you’ll discover the street markets, architecture and delicious foods crowding the avenues and by night, you can venture out into the sprawling, lush greens for Instagram-worthy photos (#nofilter on everything).
Much like Italy, airfare will eat up the bulk of your cash, but once you’ve landed, you’ll save big on stays in local cottages and pub eats.
9. Quebec City, Canada
Never thought you’d be dying to get Canada, did you? Quebec City, one of North America’s most charming tourist destinations, is the only city to still have its city walls intact (“Game of Thrones” fans, how’s that for medieval fun?).
The small streets and cramped quarters of Old Town are filled with boutique shops, cafes, jazz bars and historical buildings that date back to the beginning of the European colonization of the country.
Even though the city’s big on culture, it’s equally interested in fun too, so you don’t need to worry about snoozing through your getaway.
Plus, you’ll save on cash by road tripping there, which will be almost as fun as ordering an in-flight drink. But the biggest bonus is that the Canadian drinking age is 19. Need we say more?
10. Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica
Considered the new “it” spot of Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast, the beachfront city is budding with major hotels that are offering travelers cheap rates.
The entire peninsula sits along miles and miles of beaches, swaying palm trees, so you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect spot to lie out and soak up the rays.
ON the days you’re ready to skip the beach, you can travel through the country’s boundless (and adorable) villages and nature reserves to catch up on all that wildlife you’re missing out on back home.