It’s that time of the year where we start (or at least want to start) planning our summer and winter tropical vacations. But, with bills and other expenses, our bank accounts may not agree with our dream travel plans. Thanks to the ever-growing tourism and hospitality industry, there’s always a vacation that’s doable within any budget. Gone are the days where we spend hundreds or thousands of dollars in hotel fares alone with nightly rates, taxes and those torturous incidental fees. We have options now! Travel sites with competitive flights, bundled packages and the ability to stay in hostels or an airbnb allows us to live a life of luxury on a penny. Get ready to make an Excel sheet of expenses and a Google Doc for your daily itinerary for these 3 tropical vacations on a budget!
Listen, I know everybody and their mama is quick to run to Miami, lay around on South Beach and sip alcoholic and fruity beverages out of goblets at the Sugar Factory, but Miami is extremely overpriced. My last vacation to Miami, which consisted of a 4 day hotel stay, meals, a round trip flight and whatever excursions I planned, tallied up to double what I paid for 8 days in Paris. Not to mention the 18% gratuity added onto any breakfast, lunch or dinner I had throughout the duration of my trip. I will NOT be returning to Miami any time soon as a result. I tell people all the time, all of the beaches in Florida look and feel the same and are just as beautiful - so no need to worry about photos not being worthy enough to share on your Instagram during your trip! There’s plenty of fun to be had outside of Disney World and Miami. I spent a weekend in Clearwater a few years back and have been itching to return. It’s right in between Tampa and Orlando and has a more laid back vibe but there are plenty of bars, restaurants and water sports to enjoy with your girls, on a couple’s trip, or for a family vacation. Pier 60 is famous for hosting a nightly festival with street performers and craft vendors. The accommodations are often better than those in South Beach (more townhome or resort style), have all-inclusive options, and are cheaper. Clearwater also has a 4.5 star rating on Tripadvisor. The traffic isn’t crazy so you can Uber or rent a car and drive 20 minutes to Tampa or Orlando for more nightlife options. Either way, there’s a lot to do and it’s one of the cheaper vacation spots in the US.
Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel, Mexico
Looking for an inexpensive vacation out of the country? Apparently, Mexico is the place to be. This is one place I haven’t been that my travel agent keeps bringing to my attention. Everyone that has gone has raved that you get such a bang for your buck that I must add this to my travel list for the next year. It’s the busiest destinations in the Caribbean and although Cancun is not an island so it might not count for some people, there’s a beach with sand so I don’t care. Greater Cancun also consists of Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya area as well as the nearby island of Cozumel. Cheap flights are available from almost everywhere and hotels start at suspiciously low prices, I’m talking a 3-4 star rated hotel at as low as $30 nightly. There’s an abundant amount of all-inclusive options where you get all meals and drinks (alcohol included) free. My cousin went on a 4 day trip to Cancun on a random week in July for under $300 with flight included. I think that’s a win!
South Padre Island, TX
My aunt lived in Corpus Christi, TX for four years and I refused to visit because I thought, “What the hell is there to do there?” She kept telling me about this island nearby with beautiful water, dining and all around laid back fun. Apparently, it exists! A quick google search revealed that South Padre Island is a resort town known for its beaches and calm waters. According to vacationidea.com, it’s a top attraction for honeymooners, couples and families. The town is big on water creatures, nature activities, and sailing; it has a huge nightlife scene with great night vibes for a sunset toast on the beach or at a beachfront bar. There’s also a strip of nightclubs, great happy hour deals, karaoke joints, and live music on the pier. There’s a little something for everyone. Hotel stays may be more expensive during peak summer months, but with an average temperature during off-season of 75-80 degrees and higher, there’s nothing wrong with a fall or winter trip to this island!
Will you try out any of these destinations this year?