Travel lovers can agree that it just takes one glance at Instagram to feel inspired by beautiful photos of destinations featured in your feed. Yet, just as common is some apprehension about how much these luxurious destinations must cost. White sandy beaches and cabanas on the beach look great, but can you actually go on this kind of trip without breaking the bank?
While these places may seem inaccessible at first glance, the truth is, there are often ways to make even the most coveted destinations work on a smaller budget. Here is a list of some hot destinations, with tips on how to travel there on the cheap.
A common wedding and honeymoon destination, Hawaii’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles don’t have to be inaccessible to budget travelers. First, you’ll want to plan your airfare strategically to keep costs down. Alaska Airlines is one carrier to watch for sales on flights from California to Hawaii. Also check with Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, the main carriers flying into Hawaii, according to Skyscanner. Discount airlines like Virgin America also offer flights to Hawaii.
To get low rates, avoid planning a trip during high-traffic travel times such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and mid-July to late August. According to USA Today, the cheapest times to visit Hawaii are April (just after Easter) to mid-June, and September to mid-December.
Once you get to Hawaii, there are plenty of budget accommodations that have as much character as the luxury resorts your favorite Instagram personality has been posting about, at a fraction of the price. Instead of all-inclusive extravagance, check out low-key guesthouses or listings on Airbnb for budget friendly options from $50 a night.
Hawaii’s public beaches and many of its hiking trails are completely free, so choose your activities with this in mind.
In the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a group of ring-shaped coral islands, known for their extensive reefs and white sand beaches. The combination is all quite dreamy, with the exception of the big price tag that so many people associate with this destination.
However, there are ways to travel the Maldives on a budget. The trick is to stay away from expensive resorts that charge hundreds of dollars a night.
You may not have the overwater bungalow that you saw posted on your favorite Instagrammer’s profile, but there’s more to the Maldives than glass-bottom bungalows. While there are no hostels on the islands, thanks to a change to tourism laws a few years ago, residents are now allowed to open their own guesthouses. This has created a slew of budget-friendly accommodation options. By staying in these types of places, you’ll also help put some of your travel dollars into the pockets of local people, rather than luxury resorts owned by foreign hotel chains.
Private rooms in guesthouses begin at $40, which you can book through Airbnb. Guesthouses in Maldives is another website that lets you book accommodations, which, although called guesthouses, are actually more like affordable hotels. Both of these types of accommodations usually include meals in their nightly price.
Your flight to the Maldives is the other big expense. One way to cut the cost is to fly first to an Asian hub, and then catch a discount flight from there to the Maldives. You can find good rates from Malaysia on AirAsia. Other good Asian departure points include Colombo, Sri Lanka; Bangkok; and Singapore.
Another option is to fly on Emirates Airline from North America, which could be a good way to plan a layover in Dubai.
Once you’ve arrived, you can do some cheap island hopping by using the public ferry system, which costs as little as $2 per person. That can save you hundreds of dollars you’d otherwise spend on domestic flights or expensive speed boat rides to connect to different islands.