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As the travel industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, so has people’s desire to get out of town. “Revenge travel” is prompting Americans to make up for lost time and book dream vacations this summer. And that demand is quickly pushing up prices.
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If you’re traveling on a budget, know that most of it will probably be eaten up by airfare, which was up 18% in April alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands to go on vacation. We reached out to travel experts for their top recommendations for cost-effective destinations. Below are a few ideas for where to travel on a budget of $1,000.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
With a budget of $1,000, you can find some great spots at Joshua Tree National Park to go glamping, said Heath Hammett, CEO of VacationRenter. You can even rent an RV for up to six guests for as little as $99 a night. “Make the most of your outing by going hiking or checking out Joshua Tree Lake,” he said. Fishing is just $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12, but guests must bring their own poles due to COVID-19 restrictions.
To save more money, Hammett suggested making campfire food. “Of course, s’mores are the all-time favorite. But grilled corn on the cob and veggie and meat skewers are a great option before dessert rolls around.” For those with more wiggle room in their budgets, visit Crossroads Café or drive along Twentynine Palms Highway to discover restaurant options.
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Branson is considered one of the premier destinations for live music. So if you’re hoping your vacation includes plenty of concerts and dancing, Branson is the place to visit.
However, if you’re traveling with kids, they may not be as enthusiastic about seeing the hottest bluegrass bands. Fortunately, Branson is home to another one-of-a-kind attraction: Silver Dollar City. Greg Wilson, co-owner of the personal finance blog ChaChingQueen.com, recently took his family of five there on a vacation for under $1,000. “There was something to do for all ages, including our two-year-old twins,” he said. “Lodging was very affordable and only a few miles away.”
You’re also allowed to bring your own food into the park, which can save a considerable amount. Parking is free, and there’s a free trolley that can drive you to the park’s entrance.
If you’re more interested in an international vacation, Alika Barnsley, a travel blogger at Alika in Wanderlust, recommends Bali.
“Bali is one of the cheapest islands in the entire world,” she said. “Not only is it incredibly cheap, but it’s also a beautiful destination with plenty of things to do and see on a budget.”
Barnsley said you can find hostels that cost around $8 to $15 per night, while hotels are about $20 per night and up. Eating street food will run you $2 to $4 per meal, and restaurants aren’t much more.
Transportation options are also cost-effective. You can hire a scooter to get around Bali for around $3 to $5 per day, or you can get GoJek (like Uber) for around $1 to $5 per ride, depending on the distance. “To see waterfalls, rice terraces and beaches, there are entry fees,” she noted. “But they are small — usually only $1to $5.”
For those craving a somewhat European feeling with Latin American flair, Carlos Grider, of the travel site A Brother Abroad, said Argentina is a perfect destination. “The economy is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, leaving insanely cheap prices,” he said. “But the country, the people and all its beauty are just as amazing as before.”
One thousand dollars can go very far in Argentina right now, according to Grider. Ten days is typical, though you can stretch that budget a month if you’re frugal. He explained that in Buenos Aires, a good hotel will cost $30 per night, while a hostel will run closer to $15. Meals cost around $10, and a bus ticket between Buenos Aires and Mendoza will cost roughly $30.
He added that the capital has a well-connected metro system, allowing you to explore for 25 cents per ride. There are also inexpensive long-haul and “sleeper” buses that allow you to travel to the highlights of Iguazu, Mendoza, San Carlos de Bariloche and El Chalten on the edge of Los Glaciares National Park. “Throughout the rest of the country, prices are roughly 25% to 50% cheaper than in Buenos Aires, meaning as travelers adventure, their money will go even further.”
Try a Cruise
If all-you-can-eat buffets, nightly entertainment and the gentle rocking of the ocean are your thing, a cruise can be an excellent way to travel internationally for less. As cruise lines continue their return-to-normal operations, onboard capacity limits are falling away, according to Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. “Because of the limited time they have left to fill cabins for the summer season, pricing is quite competitive,” she said. “Add to that the savings you get from not having to fly to your final destination, and cruising is an incredibly budget-friendly option for travelers this summer.”
In the Caribbean, for example, McDaniel said the average fare for a five-night cruise starts at less than $500 per person for peak July cruises. If you sail in August, the price drops even more to around $325 per person.
“While those are entry prices and you’ll still have add-on costs to pay like taxes and gratuities, they do include things like lodging, meals and entertainment,” she explained. “If you can snag a deal that includes things like complimentary drinks or onboard credit, you’ll be able to save even more.”
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