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By Maggie Tomasek
We all have travel destinations on our bucket list, but sometimes, our budgets and time don’t allow for those trips to happen. That doesn’t mean we have to completely scrap our dreams. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives to popular vacation spots, and these more affordable destinations have a lot to offer for savvy travelers.
Get your fix of French culture without the pricey overseas airfare by visiting Montreal, Quebec, Canada, instead of Paris, France. The French-speaking city has a distinctly European atmosphere, especially in the Old Montreal district, with plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and historic architecture to keep you busy. And, your American dollars will go even further with Canadian dollars vs. euros. Just be sure to stick to your budget while you’re traveling abroad.
Casinos, shopping, golf courses, warm weather. Sounds like Las Vegas, right? Well, you can get all of those things, lower entertainment costs and cheaper rooms with views of the Gulf Coast when you visit Biloxi, Mississippi. Think of it as a more low-key Las Vegas, for when you want to spend less money and less energy on that bachelor party or milestone birthday blowout.
If a winter weather getaway is what you’re seeking, opt for Park City over Vail on your next ski trip. You’ll save money on lift tickets and lodging, and the crowds and lift lines are much shorter without sacrificing quality (remember, Park City was one of the venues for the 2002 Winter Olympics). Looking for more ways to save? Check out our tips for a cheap ski trip.
The cost of flights alone can make a Hawaiian vacation out of reach, so when you factor in that Hawaii also has the highest hotel room rates in the country, it all adds up to one expensive trip. Enter Miami, a terrific warm weather alternative with 16 different beaches and within a three-hour flight for the majority of the U.S. population. Miami’s nightlife is second-to-none, and you can still swim, boat and people watch to your heart’s content.
When you think of Alabama, you might not immediately imagine beaches. But along the Gulf Coast, you’ll find some gorgeous, affordable resorts and activities. With 32-miles of sugar-white sand beaches, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, are truly some of the best hidden gems in the U.S. Fly into Pensacola or Mobile, or take a road trip to enjoy golf courses, nature trails, water sports and other excursions similar to what you might find at a resort in Mexico.
There are plenty of places where you can get the big city feel of New York without the New York prices, and Toronto is one of those places. (Fun fact: Toronto often stands in as New York City in movies, too.) The capital of Ontario, Canada, also boasts art, music and theater options, and plenty of eating and drinking establishments to satisfy whatever you’re craving. Opt for an Airbnb and stay in one of Toronto’s cool neighborhoods to make it an even better cheap travel deal.
Maggie Tomasek is the Social Media & PR Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is an eight-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.