5 Surprisingly Affordable Places to Travel This Spring (Video)
Planning a great, impromptu getaway this spring may not be as expensive as you think. With Airbnb's competitive, affordable rates and new flight deals popping up almost every day, it’s entirely feasible to string together a last-minute overseas expedition without sacrificing your entire paycheck.
And by picking a destination where your dollar will really stretch, travelers can fly far without worrying too much about the total bill.
To identify the destinations you can travel where your money will go farthest this spring, Travel + Leisure worked with Quicken — a personal finance management company — to quantify the places with advantageous exchange rates, and the most affordable food, transit, cultural experiences, and accommodations.
This season, destinations in South America, the Caribbean, and even the Great White North stood out as top choices for value-conscious travelers.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is utterly beautiful this time of year. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible wandering through the tree-lined neighborhoods and exploring the city’s famous Botanical Garden: a maze of green alleys broken up by fountains and haunting mythical statues.
To get there, it’s a cinch. Flights this spring from New York City start at approximately $800 roundtrip — a steal considering just how far south you’re actually flying. (Meanwhile, the same ticket from other cities like Chicago and Los Angeles hovers under $1,050.)
With the Argentine peso being roughly equivalent to a nickel, it’s a fabulously affordable destination once you arrive. Frida Kahlo paintings can be viewed at the Museum of Latin American Art for just $6 per person, and access to Recoleta’s delightful weekend street market is free. Buenos Aries also boasts one of South America’s most irresistible cocktail scenes; and if you get peckish after all that drinking, the $2 street empanadas will blow your mind
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Despite the Dominican Republic’s reputation for ultra-luxurious, all-inclusive resorts, travelers can opt to stay instead at an equally stunning guesthouse or Airbnb. In fact, many of them are located right next to the beach. So for $40 a night, you’ll have a direct path to the ocean, and all the privacy you’d expect at a regular hotel.
Getting to — and around — Punta Cana can be just as affordable. Quicken found flights this spring starting at a cool $350 round-trip from New York City, with slight increases of $100 or $150 if you’re traveling from Los Angeles or San Francisco. You don't need to bother renting a car when you’re there, either. A single taxi motorcycle costs just $2 per ride.
Of course, beaches are the main draw of this sun-drenched town on the eastern tip of the island. It won’t cost you a penny to sit out on the white sandy shoreline of Bavaro Beach, which stretches for more than six miles. The exotic cuisine is another reason you’ll love it here: local dishes like tostones (fried plantain) and croquetas won’t set you back more than $3 or $4.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
The classic Jamaican port town of Ocho Rios was once a small fishing village, but has since blossomed into the country’s most sought-after beach destination (it was even featured on several episodes of "The Bachelor").
But don’t confuse its popularity with priciness. One of the top bucket list items in town — a self-guided visit to dazzling Dunns River Falls — is only $20. And James Bond Beach, on a tiny peninsula surrounded by crystal clear water, is absolutely free to enter.
Similar to its neighbor to the west, Jamaica’s native eats are ridiculously cheap (have a piece of scrumptious cocobread for as little as $1). Beer is ubiquitous, and goes for as little as $2 a glass.
Despite Jamaica’s year-round tourism appeal, airfare is particularly accessible this season. Travelers coming from coastal cities like New York City or San Francisco can find a round-trip ticket for roughly $400.
For travelers who don't have a full week to spare for spring break (but still want to leave the country), consider this: the conversion rate is $0.78 USD to the Canadian dollar right now, so it’s actually cheaper than traveling inside the United States.
Meanwhile, Quebec is packed with awesome sights that can’t be found elsewhere on Earth. Travelers can spend days (and zero dollars) simply wandering through Old Quebec, with its 400-year-old buildings, quaint shops, and impressive Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. For a similar kind of medieval beauty, you’d have to fly all the way to Europe.
Beer isn’t exactly cheap here (it’s no Jamaica), but Quebec makes up for it in other ways. For example, you can skip the fancy restaurants and comfortably have poutine instead (just $5). Travelers can even bed down in mid to upscale hotels for a reasonable $110 per night.
La Paz, Bolivia
For a real off-the-grid adventure, you’d better head to La Paz. While it recently emerged as one of the coolest cities in South America (with a high-end restaurant scene to match), it’s also delightfully untouristed. La Paz also has a new system of aerial trams that make for a fast, cheap, and beautiful way to navigate the city’s many neighborhoods.
While flights will set you back anywhere from $500 to $750 round-trip, you can plan on saving when you hit up attractions like Tiwanaku — an ancient archeological site where you can wander through impossibly large stone temples, and admire the “Stonehenge of the Americas,” all for just $14.
Hotels this time of year in La Paz start at between $75 and $125 a night for an mid-range property with full amenities. And a full meal of silpancho (rice, potatoes, schnitzel-style meat, tomatoes, and fried eggs) with beer will set you back no more than $7.