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5 of the Best, Cheapest Places to Vacation to From Canada

by:
Adriana Molina

It's fall, which means plenty of us have one thing on the mind: I need to get out of here. But taking a vacation can really break a budget if you're not careful, and when you’re struggling financially, any major getaway should probably take a backseat to your expenses. (After all, that is why staycations were invented, right?) But we understand that many people have a bad case of wanderlust—that unyielding desire to make an escape and see or do something different—and we totally get it! So here are five places to go that can get you out and about without pushing you further into debt.

Top 5 Places to Visit on a Budget

1. Miami, Florida

If you're looking for a little heat but you can't do a one-week, all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean, one of my favourite spots to visit is Miami...specifically South Beach, Miami. Why do I love it? All you need are four days, the water is warm (almost too warm, depending on the season), the beaches are beautiful and accessible to everyone, there are lots of great neighbourhoods you can check out, and there are tons of yummy Latin places to grab a quick bite to eat. Now, most people hear South Beach and immediately think "cha-ching!" but you can make it as affordable (or expensive) as you want thanks to rental sites like Airbnb and reasonable roundtrip flights. Wanna save even more? Many Canadians drive to South Beach every year instead of hopping on a plane, so all you really need to do is pile into a rental with three of your besties and you've got a legitimate beach vacay. A word of caution though: Stay away from the cocktails. They'll break your budget fast.

2. Washington, D.C.

Put your politics aside and visit one of the most dynamic cities in the US. Flights and hotels are reasonable, and once you’ve arrived, there is so much to see and do—and most of it is free! The city boasts 11 of the 19 Smithsonian Museums, including the National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History. The metro system is also excellent, so you can get around easily without having to rent a car or rely only on Uber.

3. NYC, New York

Whenever I feel like I need a quick getaway, a new vibe in a different city with new feels, I think New York City. If you want to drive there you can, or you can take a Greyhound bus. But I live in Toronto and we have a little airline called Porter where you can fly to Newark, New Jersey for less than $200 roundtrip, all in. When you compare that to a one-way $59 Greyhound ticket (not including taxes), it can be a better option. And I LOVE Porter. They give you free goodies before the flight in their awesome lounge; check-in is quick (it's what you wish every airline check-in would be) and if you get there early, getting on the next earlier flight is a breeze. So you fly to Newark and take an $8.50 train to Penn Station (it's a 25-minute ride), and voila! You're in the middle of Manhattan.

You can also get great deals on NYC hotels, especially if you're rooming with a friend and you've got time to plan, and there is so much to do in New York for next to nothing. For example, you can take a stroll through Central Park, check out the weekend markets in Williamsburg, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, check out the art galleries in Chelsea and Soho, grab a drink and a bite in the Seaport District near Wall Street, and walk the High Line—an elevated park built on top of the former New York Central Railroad where they host tons of free, hipster events too.  

4. The lsland of Curaçao  

Okay, there are definitely some mixed feelings about this place, but first a bit of background. 

Curaçao is a very small island close to Aruba off the coast of Venezuela, and it's Dutch. Now, if you're going with the expectation of Aruba, you're going to be disappointed (so I've heard), but I've never been to Aruba, so I loved it. Curaçao is off the beaten path, it offers some ruggedness and adventure, great nightlife, great city life and restaurants, and it's an exotic beach vacation somewhere different and budget-friendly. The beaches are absolutely stunning—there are over 40!—and offer some of the best snorkeling ever. By far the best place for snorkeling was Cas Abao Beach; as soon as you put your head underwater it's like you're in the Little Mermaid. Renting snorkel gear is about $10-15 US a day, and if you're going with a friend you can share, as long as you don't care about cooties.

How do you make a trip to Curaçao affordable? Travel with at least one friend; rent a car so you can go beach-hopping; rent a place off Airbnb (there are jaw-dropping estates in gated communities, and if you're sharing, it only costs about $90 a night...a little pricey, but not for luxury!); and cook most of your meals yourself—the produce is amazing because Curaçao is so close to South America. And if you ever go, make sure to visit the local Aloe Vera plantation. (It's free!)

5. Calgary, Alberta

And how could we not include one of our own beautiful cities! Our country is so large, we often take it for granted. Many Canadians haven’t explored their own backyard, and it's a shame! Canada is so beautiful. Last year I tagged along on a cross-Canada road trip with two of my friends for Canada's 150. I flew from Toronto to Calgary (they drove the whole way) and met them for the Alberta/British Columbia stretch of their road trip, and I must say, that trek through the mountains between Alberta and BC makes you proud to be Canadian. It's some of the most breath-taking views you will ever see, hands down. And if you haven’t seen Calgary, you’re missing a lot of free natural beauty and historical sites. The city is home to the Calgary Stampede, a 10-day rodeo featuring a parade, bull riding, and a 36-team derby. Tickets are less than $20, and in the evening there is free musical entertainment, fireworks, and inexpensive carnival rides for the kids (or the kid in you).

There you have it, the top five places to see on a budget. Over the years, Credit Canada has offered tons of great ideas and ways to save when getting out of town. So if you’re planning ahead for next year’s vacation, be sure to check out How to Take a Summer Vacation Without Breaking the Bank. Have some travel tips of your own, or do you know another great inexpensive city to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

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Topics: Vacations

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