The best cheap trips could fill an endless list that covers the entire planet. Which are the best for you depends only on your interests, budget, and the amount of time you have. In fact, if you're looking for the top 10 cheap vacation spots in the world, you are more apt to find a list of the top 1,000, maybe even the top 1,000 per country or region—that's plenty for planning amazing cheap vacations.
Cheap US vacation destinations top the list of the most economical for residents of the United States, especially if you are looking for a quick weekend getaway. Many of these will be found very close to your home, no matter where you live. Leaf peeping during the fall foliage season in New Hampshire or Vermont can be done on a shoestring budget with expenses for gas and food as the most costly items, if you have a recreational vehicle or camping gear. You can travel to fabulous beaches on the Great Lakes for very little money. If you live in landlocked Wausau Wisconsin or Columbus Ohio, go whitewater rafting on the Russian River or travel through the magnificent California sequoia forests in a weekend. Or you might spend days in the Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C. and never pay an entry fee.
High on the list of cheap US vacation destinations are the country's many national and state parks and its historic landmarks. The most visited national park is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Here you will find more than 800 miles of hiking trails, numerous campgrounds, cabin rentals, and rustic lodges. Next on the list is the magnificent Grand Canyon, followed by equaling breathtaking Yosemite and Yellowstone—all with inexpensive lodging options. Florida and Hawaii top the list of cheap US vacation destinations for beaches, and both offer plenty of other attractions from championship golf courses and beautiful rainforests to Disneyworld and the Everglades. And, of course, there are cheap Las Vegas vacations, where even the finest hotels offer discounted rooms.
To find the best cheap trips elsewhere in the world, you want to look for places where your dollar goes the furthest. These places are usually developing countries, although Spain, Portugal, and Greece in Europe have historically been relatively inexpensive places to travel. An emerging market here can be found in the countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain, including Croatia and Slovenia, which both have lovely Adriatic beaches and rich historic heritages. Also in the top 10 cheap vacation spots in Europe are the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Poland. These countries have huge tracts of wilderness areas preserved because the former communist countries kept locals and visitors away from the forested areas along the borders with Western Europe.
A list of the top 10 cheap vacation spots in developing countries might begin with Turkey, a country in both Europe and Asia. Exotic Istanbul is a thriving metropolis full of magnificent Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, including Topkapi Palace and the sublime Hagia Sophia. In the Asia part of Turkey are some of the most important ancient ruins in the world, including Ephesus and the Temple of Aphrodite. The country's beautiful Mediterranean Turquoise Coast offers some of the best scuba diving and sailing in the region, and all of this at very cheap prices.
More of the best cheap trips in the developing world can be found in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Although the Argentina economy is on the recovery since its 2001 devaluation, there are still fire sale bargains available in this sophisticated country. Honduras and Belize are both emerging destinations in Central America, and Mexico remains a great bargain if you stay away from the most popular resort areas of Cancun, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta. Try the scenic Copper Canyon rail trip and the charming colonial towns in the interior, instead. You can also head for Morocco in North Africa with its exotic markets, Moorish fortresses, and often nearly deserted Mediterranean beaches. And finally, Thailand remains on the list of cheap exotic vacation spots, where it has had a place since the 1960s.
No matter where in the world you want to go, you can find a way to get away for cheap, whether this means looking into a vacation package, going to a country where prices are low, or just taking a drive to an interesting destination close to home.