Cheap travel ideas offer even more possibilities than luxury vacation ideas. They are the kinds of trips that people on a budget will pick because the amount they have to spend is limited. Sometimes they are what travelers will choose because it is one of the few ways to experience certain areas. Sometimes cheap forms of travel and accommodations are what certain kinds of travelers prefer in order to get a real feel for the area through which they are traveling. Sometimes, the best cheap vacation idea is what someone can fit into a limited amount of time.
Ideas for a cheap vacation if you have a limited amount of time include looking first to your own backyard. For instance, if you live in the Los Angeles area but not near the ocean, you might consider a long weekend at one of the modest motels along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. While this is an elite community full of movie stars and multimillion dollar mansions, there are some good budget motels along the ocean. You can also find them a bit farther down the coast towards trendy Santa Monica, but these are generally more expensive. Additionally, you are within a couple hours of a beautiful national park, wilderness area, or national monument no matter where you live in the United States. Check out the lodging possibilities at those near you—from camping and rustic wilderness cabins to charming bed and breakfast inns and budget hotels. Vacation rentals are good for these kinds of vacations as well.
Cheap travel ideas for more exotic destinations take a bit more strategic planning, generally because simply getting there can take a big bite out of your budget. One way to minimize this is to look at vacation packages that bundle the major expenses of transportation and lodging into one price. These are generally available to the more popular (and often more crowded) resort areas around the world. In Europe, you can find very cheap vacation packages to popular beach destinations like Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands off the western coast of Africa and even in thrilling destinations like Kenya and Tanzania. The latter, especially the coast area around Mombasa and Malindi in Kenya, are very popular with Europeans. The best cheap vacation idea for an exotic location closer to home includes popular Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico and Jamaica, and the Hawaiian Islands. All inclusive resorts, especially in the Caribbean, can also help to save money.
Other ideas for a cheap vacation in package form are cruises. Cruise lines often have very attractive contracts with airlines, so it’s possible to get yourself quite far from home very cheaply. These are also excellent money saving options for last minute vacation ideas. Cruise lines, even those deluxe river ships that ply the waters of the Rhine, Main, and Danube River in Europe, generally operate throughout the year and will have excellent last minute deals, often at less than half price. Since cruise lines also book large numbers of groups, a single unexpected cancellation can cause occupancy issues that trigger very cheap deals.
Those cheap travel ideas that involve cruises are excellent value, as all meals are included and itineraries take you to numerous ports. For river cruises, most of the basic shore excursions are also generally included. If you are careful to watch what you spend on extras like drinks and more expensive shore excursions and book the cheapest cabins, it is possible to visit exotic locations in the South Pacific, Asia, and even Africa fairly cheaply.
Other ideas for a cheap vacation include using the cheapest forms of transportation. The train system in Europe is extensive, and it is possible to buy passes allowing various forms of unlimited travel throughout the continent. Some of the journeys are overnight, which is a great experience. Hiking tours and bicycle tours also provide healthy methods of seeing an area cheaply. There are wonderful hiking tours in the highlands of northern Vietnam that travel from guest house to guest house and offer opportunities for rewarding cultural exchange with home stays in the villages of the Hill Tribes. New Zealand, the United States, and Europe are all excellent destinations for cycling tours. In the Greek Islands, you can travel from island to island on very inexpensive ferries that travel extensively through this area of the Mediterranean.
The best cheap vacation idea really depends on your interests. You can even find volunteer vacations that are extremely inexpensive. Go to Africa for a couple weeks, stay in a comfortable but basic accommodation, and help the local village build a schoolroom or dig a well. Then enjoy a short wildlife safari. Habitat for Humanity has international volunteer programs in places as far flung as El Salvador, Macedonia, and Thailand. Entire families can get on the act with this opportunity. There are prestigious outdoor leadership programs like NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) with graduates who are some of the most influential people in the world. You can even get paid for an extended 27-month volunteer vacation if you are in good health and join the Peace Corps.