Travel Expert Secrets: 9 Trips That Cost Less Than You Think

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lucky-photographer / Getty Images

lucky-photographer / Getty Images

While it might seem like a luxury vacation is an unattainable goal, it’s likely much more affordable than you think. With a little bit of budgeting and some expert insight on the best places to go and deals available, you can make your dream vacation a reality.

Check out these nine luxury vacation spots recommended by travel experts, and prepare to book your next getaway in an affordable way.

Nile River Cruise, Egypt

If you’re looking to vacation on the water, you can’t beat this all-inclusive Nile River cruise.

“By far the most luxurious thing I’ve done on a budget is taking a Nile River cruise in Egypt,” said Katie Caf, travel expert and owner of Katie Caf Travel, a travel blog that creates travel guides for locations around the world. For approximately $145 per night per person, Caf describes her travel party “…were in a luxurious all-inclusive river cruise which included buffet meals, a luxury stateroom, Nile views and endless activities such as sunrise hot air balloon rides and temple visits.”

This opulent getaway included additional amenities and access to affordable add-ons that travelers can take advantage of in order to get the most out of their stay.

“Our boat was fully equipped with a roof deck bar and pool, a hot tub, a sauna and a spa,” Caf said. “Every day my group got massages for only $20 after a long day of temple-hopping. It was truly the most luxury you could get for the least amount of money.”

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Sabah, Malaysia’s Gaya Island

If an island vacation is more up your alley, Gaya Island is a stunning green island just off the coast of East Malaysia. Surrounded by crystal-clear blue water, this quaint location features the resort of travelers’ dreams.

“This undiscovered island is situated in the South China Sea, off the coast of Borneo,” said Mathew Bowley, marketing manager at Solmar Villas, a U.K.-based travel company that curates high-quality villa vacations. “Enjoy the island’s amenities at Gaya Island Resort, where you can stay for approximately $200 per night. You can experience famous beaches, coral reefs and wildlife sightings.”

Canggu, Bali

If you’re looking for a luxury vacation for less, head to the Southeast Asian island of Bali.

“While in Bali, travelers can enjoy five-star service for much lower prices than your typical five-star hotel in the United States,” said Collette Stohler, travel host and co-founder of Roamaroo, a luxury travel social media experience. “For an Airbnb in the town of Canggu, travelers can enjoy their own private villa complete with a pool for less than $150 per night. Travelers can rent a scooter or hire a driver to get around town. For activities, travelers can surf, enjoy spa treatments and enjoy the delicious restaurants that sprinkle the streets of Canggu.”

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Jordan, a small country located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe offers one of the most affordable luxury trips for travelers looking for a safe place to explore.

“There are plenty of activities to do in Jordan including exploring many historical landmarks and Roman ruins, the most famous of which is Petra,” said Duke Armitage, founder of Aviamonde, a website for aspiring pilots, and a previous luxury travel agency employee. “There is also The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, and dozens of beautiful hiking trails all over the country. Travelers can also explore Aqaba, a great spot for scuba diving, and Amman, the capital, filled with bustling nightlife.”

Accommodations in this country are also very affordable for travelers.

“Lots of five-star hotels charge under $100 per person or $200 per night,” Armitage said. “High-end Airbnbs cost roughly $100 per night on average. Local food is pretty cheap — you can have a hearty breakfast for under $5 or lunch at a great restaurant for about $20.”

Zagreb, Croatia

If you’re looking to vacation luxuriously for less, be sure to consider Zagreb, Croatia. Zagreb’s luscious and green landscape not only makes for a beautiful visit but also an affordable one.

Depending on your timing, you can expect to pay about $150 or less per night in most of the luxurious five-star hotels around the city. But there are even cheaper options available, too. “You can expect a stay at a fancier Airbnb to cost you $50 or less a night,” said Kristin Lee, travel expert and owner of the travel blog Global Travel Escapades.

This city will also keep travelers entertained with its one-of-a-kind museums and stunning National Parks.

“In terms of activities, Zagreb is filled with a wide assortment of unique and interactive museums,” Lee said. “For example, one of their most popular museums is the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum features significant items donated by people around the world who were part of a failed relationship. Alternatively, Croatia is also known for its plentiful green spaces and beautiful national parks. If you stay in Zagreb, you can easily day trip to its best national park, Plitvice Lakes National Park. There you’ll be able to hike through verdant forests and see the most stunning waterfalls.”

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St. Lucia

If an all-inclusive vacation is up your alley, St. Lucia has got you covered with some of the most luxurious inclusive resorts across the Caribbean. This is an especially appealing option for travelers looking for an experience similar to Hawaii, without all the expense.

“Many busy younger east coast couples don’t have time to take off more than a week, so cutting the travel time in half by visiting the Caribbean is appealing,” said Sarah Kline, president of Time For Travel, a member of Ensemble Travel Group.

“Many young couples are also used to the all-inclusive concept, so it’s more appealing and better budget-wise to head to St Lucia’s many all-inclusive resorts. Both Hawaii and St. Lucia have stunning beaches, watersports, rainforests, mountains, waterfalls and volcanos. While Hawaii is fabulous, a mid-range hotel can average over $500 a night with no inclusions, whereas in St Lucia you can get a full all-inclusive stay for around the same cost.”

Las Vegas

One of the best cities in the country for concerts, events, gambling and never-ending nightlife is Las Vegas. In addition to its world-class casinos and entertainment, this city also offers travelers endless enjoyment opportunities at an affordable price point.

“Honestly, Las Vegas is a chameleon for your vacation and it can do so much,” said Bryan Mullennix, owner of Feeling Vegas, a travel guide to the best deals in Las Vegas. “Flights can be affordable to Vegas because there are so many flights, there are some amazing hotels to stay in and certain events — like residence concerts and other shows that have a high budget — are quite enjoyable.”

Additionally, the elegant hotels and lodging in this city will make you feel like a celebrity without charging extravagant prices. If you time your trip just right, like during the week or slower months for travel, you can often get even better deals.

“Famous luxurious hotels like the Bellagio cost only about $200 a night and will make you feel like a rockstar as you spend time in its facility,” Mullennix said. “Casinos spend lots of money to make sure their facilities are high-end, and some of the best shows in the world live there. It’s a great spot to plan a luxury vacation and you can do it affordably.”

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When it comes to offering a luxurious getaway, the Caribbean Islands know how to deliver. Renowned for its dazzling white beaches and colorful architecture, Aruba is one of the most vibrant places to visit when traveling on a budget.

“Aruba exudes affordability, but high quality,” said Brittany Mendez, travel expert and CMO of Florida Panhandle, a travel guide to the restaurants, attractions and vacation rentals in the Florida Panhandle. “Aruba is actually one of the cheapest Caribbean Islands, with hotel and airfare averaging around the $200 to $300 range. As far as things to do go, you don’t have to spend anything to visit the beautiful beaches, and there are attractions like the Butterfly Farm that are as cheap as $15 for adults.”


Patagonia is filled with outdoor excursions that are perfect for travelers looking for nature activities and a trip to some of the world’s most legendary mountains and glaciers.

“This vast region encompasses everything from glaciers and fjords to snow-capped mountains and steaming volcanoes,” said Fred Baker, senior travel editor for the travel blog Travelness. “And while it’s not cheap, there are plenty of affordable accommodations and activities available. Some of the activities in Patagonia include hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding and climbing.”

If you’re looking to experience the most southern region of the earth that humans can walk on in South America, you can do so affordably.

“The average cost for a hotel is $200 per night and an Airbnb is $150 per night,” Baker said. “There are also many free activities available, such as hiking and exploring the natural scenery.”

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Jake Arky contributed to the reporting for this article.

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