The first summer after the pandemic lockdown is underway and the theme of the season is travel. More than a year of pent-up demand and historically fat savings accounts have resorts booked, cruise ships full and airplanes flying on schedule.
Everyone, it seems, is making up for lost time — and you can, too, no matter your budget.
Whether you’ve got thousands of dollars to throw at a luxury family vacation or you’re trying to get as far as you can on just a few hundred bucks, you can take a trip for the ages. GOBankingRates identified 10 types of trips for 10 different budgets. There’s a mix of ideas for families, couples and even solo travelers looking for a realistic way to take that long-postponed and well-deserved vacation, no matter what they have in the bank.
Last updated: June 25, 2021
A Family With a Few Hundred Bucks: National Park Camping Trip
There are more than 400 national parks in the United States, which means that no matter where you live, you’re close to a protected and well-maintained natural paradise that’s open to the public. Within, you’ll find not only serenity, scenery and fun, but a family bonding experience that no hotel can match — plus, it’s cheap.
Many parks charge a per-vehicle fee of $5 to $35, and the average fee for a campsite is $20 per night — although that varies by park. Even if you have to spring for some equipment, it still leaves plenty of room for food, drinks and supplies, all on a budget that can be held to the low hundreds with ease.
A Solo Traveler With $1,000: Golf Vacation
If golf is your thing and you’re up for a solo getaway, you’ll meet plenty of people on the links or just enjoy the solitude of the fairway with a golf vacation from a company like GolfPass.com. A package in Scottsdale, Arizona, starts in the low $200s per night — likewise for one in St. Augustine, Florida. Certain packages can even run well under $200. They include accommodations, all the golf you can play and, in some cases, extra goodies like tickets to pro matches.
Add a few hundred bucks for food and entertainment, and you can make it a long weekend for inside of $1,000 — more if you have to fly to your destination, of course.
A Family With $1,500: Airbnb in a Nearby City
If you live within driving distance of a great city that you never find the time to explore, you can take a vacation without ever setting foot inside of an airport or checking into a hotel. In 2018, Forbes data showed that the average Airbnb reservation was much cheaper than hotels in most cities — $306 vs. $187 in New York, for example.
In 2021, TravelFreak confirmed that Airbnb rentals still tend to be cheaper than hotel rooms, and while there’s no room service, housekeeping or wake-up calls, there is private parking and a kitchen. Plus, you get the run of the place.
In 2020, the average price of an Airbnb in North America was $161 per night, or $644 for a four-night stay. If you have $1,500, that lets you dedicate most of your budget to your days in the city instead of your nights asleep in the room.
A Couple With $2,000: The Classic Road Trip
According to some travel bloggers, it is technically possible to do a road trip on $50 per day. However, that involves spartan living that all but the most hardcore would politely pass on — think hostels or shared rooms, brushing your teeth in public restrooms, etc. If you triple that to $150 and multiply it by two for a couple, that’s $300 a day combined for six to seven days for a budget of $2,000. That’s still a manageable price for many, but one that affords much more creature comfort and wiggle room in the itinerary.
You certainly don’t have to drive coast-to-coast, either. Common routes include L.A. to Chicago on Route 66, Florida to California on Interstate 10, Maine to Florida on Interstate 95 or up and down the California coast on the Pacific Coast Highway.
A Couple With $2,000: A 3-Day Weekend in the Bahamas
The Bahamas have long been the answer for anyone looking for paradise without paying paradise prices. A hop, skip and a jump from Miami, the islands of the Bahamas are close, but oh, so far away — crystal blue water, white sand beaches, exotic animals and lush forests make for the ideal getaway.
A regular couple with decent savings — or a little left from their COVID-19 stimulus — can land an all-inclusive three-day package on Nassau or Paradise Island in the low-to-mid $700s from agencies like CheapCaribbean.com. That’s technically a sub-$1,500 trip, but if you tack on an extra few hundred for walking-around money, all the better.
A Family With $3,000: Rent an RV
If you decide to rent an RV and take your camping trip on the road, you might consider a site like Outdoorsy instead of traditional RV rental companies. It’s a P2P rental service — like Airbnb for motorhomes — and you’ll often find more variety at a better price.
The average cost to rent a Class C motorhome is $150-$200 per night, according to Outdoorsy. Call it $175 and that’s $1,750 for 10 days on the road. Add park fees, campsite fees, hookup fees, mileage fees, fuel, cleaning, insurance, food and supplies, and you’ll have a long — but not too long — family vacation for the ages for inside of $3,000.
A Couple With $3,500: Take a Cruise
According to Cruise Market Watch, the average cost for a typical cruise in 2021 is $214.25 per person, per day. The average cruise duration is eight days, which comes out to $1,714 per person — multiplying by two for couples is $3,428.
It breaks down like this:
- Tickets are $152.12 per person per day, or $1,217 over eight days
- On-board spending averages $62.13 per person, per day or $497 over eight days
A Couple With $4,000: Stay in an All-Inclusive Luxury Resort
If you can spring for $400 per person nightly for five nights, you can get into a Butler Level package at Sandals — that’s the highest of three available tiers. Unlike many competitors that throw the phrase around carelessly, these packages are truly all-inclusive — and they offer legit top-shelf luxury. That includes amenities like overwater bungalows, private pools, snorkeling, scuba diving, airport transfers and unlimited premium liquor and wine with tax and gratuity included.
Locations include Grenada, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas.
A Couple With $5,000: Amtrak Vacations
Amtrak Vacations are a collection of all-inclusive destination packages that span the country and offer unmatchable variety. It’s best for couples without kids or solo travelers because it requires a whole lot of time cooped up on trains.
You can tour a region like the Midwest, West, Northeast or South, hitting all the major cities and watching the country pass by out the window as you go. You can choose to tour sites like Niagra Falls or national parks, overnight or by day, with great flexibility in when you can leave and return. In all, there are hundreds of unique vacation possibilities and just as many prices. One current example is the Grand Canyon Getaway roundtrip from Chicago for six days with three destinations, including meals and hotels, starting at $1,199 per person.
A Family With $7,000: Disney World
Like Amtrak, a trip to the House of Mouse can have all kinds of price tags depending on different factors like where you’re coming from, how you’re getting there, how long you’re staying and how you roll when you arrive.
The experts at Mouse Hacking came up with an average 2021 cost of $5,239 for a family of four. That’s the baseline — also like Amtrak, you can make a trip to Disney World as expensive as you’d like.
Presuming Chicago as the starting point, it comes out to $262 per person each night — including airfare — for five nights at Pop Century, five non-park hopper day tickets and a standard Disney Dining Plan. If you can go up to $7,000, you can upgrade to a VIP experience.
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