Booking a vacation that won’t empty your bank account seems almost impossible these days, but there still are some places that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Here are a dozen ideas for a ­budget-friendly vacation in 2024…

Sand and Surf

Dominican Republic (featured image): The DR ( offers some of the Caribbean’s most affordable vacations. Not only is the island home to dozens of all-inclusive resorts that cost less than $125 per person per night, airfares to popular Punta Cana are generally well-priced. Plus, the beaches are truly spectacular.

To score a great deal: Avoid peak periods such as holiday weekends and school breaks. April to June generally offers a good combination of value and weather, while November and early December are optimal for escaping the winter cold. Budget-friendly all-­inclusive options: Bahia Principe Punta Cana (, with a choice of seven resorts…and Jewel Punta Cana (, located on the uncrowded Uvero Alto Beach.

Gulf Shores, Alabama: If you want to stay closer to home but still enjoy sugar-white sand and hotel rates under $200 a night, consider this stretch of the Alabama coastline just west of the Florida panhandle. The family-friendly Gulf Shores area ( offers golfing, biking, fishing, sea kayaking and more…and the kids can enjoy theme parks, waterparks, nature parks and glow-in-the-dark golf.

To score a great deal: April/May and October/November offer the best combination of warm weather and cheaper rates. Options include The Lodge at Gulf State Park (—a Hilton hotel—and Hotel Indigo Orange Beach (, a boutique hotel offering access to beaches and attractions. Also check or for affordable condos and vacation homes.

Belize: If you are adventurous, consider Belize (, where beachfront hotel rates often are under $200 per night and under $300 at some luxury resorts. Calm Caribbean waters offer snorkeling and diving, and if you stay in the coastal village of Placencia, you can explore Mayan ruins on day tours. On the island of Ambergris Caye, it’s all about the beach and San Pedro’s dining scene.

To score a great deal: Belize is most affordable from June to November, which is the rainy season—there are showers, mainly in the afternoon and evening, that typically last just an hour or two. But March to early June and then late November offer a good value/weather combo. Avoid September and October when storms peak. In Placencia, check out Itz’Ana Resort & Residences ( for a well-priced luxury stay. On Ambergris Caye, family-friendly Belizean Shores Resort ( offers watersports and rooms with kitchenettes.


Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Home to nearly 100 courses, this is a golf mecca that can be surprisingly easy on your pocketbook. Afternoon tee times are priced as low as $40 to $60 at courses that include South Creek at Myrtle Beach National ( and Burning Ridge Golf Club ­( Check to compare prices at the different courses. Nightly hotel rates are budget-friendly, with options under $150/night.

To score a great deal: March/April and September to November are ideal times for a visit. Nightly rates at the beachfront Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes ( are low enough midweek to allow for a round on the Grande Dunes golf course ( Another option is Kingston Resorts (, which completed a $65 million renovation of its Hilton- and Embassy Suites–branded properties. The Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort has customizable golf packages and three golf simulators.

Northern Michigan: Not only is Northern Michigan known for its beautiful lakes—including adjoining Great Lakes, Huron and Michigan—it’s also home to picturesque resort areas with world-class golf courses. Most notable is Petoskey, which will charm you with its Victorian architecture and access to 17 area courses, 10 of them at nearby Boyne ( Hotel rates are under $225/night, and Boyne offers stay-and-play packages.

To score a great deal: Golf season here runs from May to early October, with late spring and early fall offering the best values. Boyne Mountain Resort ( features lodges, villas and cabins with easy access to the courses, while downtown Petoskey’s historic Stafford’s Perry Hotel ( is walkable to shops and restaurants.

Riviera Maya, Mexico: Hop on a flight to Cancun, and head south to Mexico’s beach-fringed Riviera Maya to play ­challenging golf courses while enjoying an all-inclusive stay costing less than $150 per person per night. The resort areas around Akumal, Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen feature world-class courses surrounded by jungle greenery.

To score a great deal: Visit between April and June or in November. Bahia Principe Riviera Maya
( features four resorts with packages offering unlimited golf at its PGA Riviera Maya course, while Iberostar Paraiso Beach ( features an 18-hole course and several golf packages.

The Mountains Are Calling

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee: Whether you want to spot black bears in the wild or enjoy wild rides at music icon Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park region offers fun for the whole family. The hub for enjoying scenic drives and exhilarating hikes as well as lively music and entertainment is the town of Gatlinburg (, where rates for popular hotel chains and vacation rentals ( can be as low as $150/night.

To score a great deal: Avoid the June-to-October peak season. Options in downtown Gatlinburg include ­family-owned The Greystone Lodge on the River ( and Fairfield Inn & Suites (, featuring modern mountain décor.

Jasper, Alberta: If the Canadian Rockies are calling you, this mountain town and national park offer hiking and mountain biking trails, wildlife viewing and a panoramic gondola ride up Whistlers Mountain. While this is not truly a budget destination, especially in summer and early fall, the US-Canada exchange rate can make Jasper ( 25% to 30% more affordable, meaning that nightly prices can be less than $250/night.

To score a great deal: Visit in May to June or in October for the best deals at rustic-inspired properties such as Overlander Mountain Lodge (, an authentic log accommodation, and Jasper East Cabins (, individual log cabins near the national park entrance.

Lake Placid, New York: Site of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid ( is in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The region offers resorts inspired by vintage Great Camps, but there also are affordable hotels, inns and vacation rentals priced under $175 a night. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and visiting the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

To score a great deal: Winter and summer are high seasons, so opt for May or October for the best rates at properties such as Cambria Hotel Lake Placid (, a lakeside property, and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort (, a family-owned resort overlooking Mirror Lake.

City Excitement

Washington, DC: Most of the must-see sights in our nation’s capital don’t charge admission. The Smithsonian ( museums, dedicated to art, science, popular culture and more, and the National Zoo are free to visit. So is the Lincoln Memorial and the Tidal Basin with its Jefferson and Roosevelt memorials. You’ll pay around $175 to $200 per night for a hotel.

To score a great deal: Hotel prices surge during cherry-blossom season—late March/early April—and summers are hot, so visit in May or October/November. Affordable accommodations near Dupont Circle include Hotel Madera ( and The Lyle DC (, both perfect for a couple’s getaway.

Oklahoma City: Oklahoma City ( has burgeoning boutique hotels and restaurants, photogenic Scissortail Park and Myriad Botanical Gardens, a new First Americans Museum, Bricktown Canal and the Oklahoma Land Run Monument, and a Triple A baseball field downtown. And you can stay here for under $150 a night.

To score a great deal: May, October and November are great months to visit, and affordable boutique hotels include Fordson Hotel (, offering loft-like rooms, and the Ambassador Hotel (, featuring a rooftop bar. The National ( is a luxury newcomer at under $300 a night.

Lisbon, Portugal: Staying in a ­European city doesn’t have to break the bank if you visit Lisbon (, Portugal’s atmospheric capital served by TAP, the national airline known for low-cost fares. There’s plenty to see, do and taste, including street mosaics, vintage streetcars, restored palaces, soulful fado performances and quintessential dishes such as bacalhau (salted cod). Hotels can be booked for under $200 a night.

To score a great deal: Visit from March to May or in October/November for low prices at one-of-a-kind properties such as the charming and artistic LX Boutique Hotel ( and hillside Memmo Alfama (, which has beautiful ocean views.

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