5 Luxury Destinations That Are Cheaper Than You Think

Planning a vacation takes a lot of time and thought. It also typically requires a large sum of money, especially if you want to get the most out of your trip. However, a luxury trip doesn’t have to be expensive. Here, for our North American readers we have selected the best places to consider when planning the trip of a lifetime- and you don’t even have to leave North America or break the bank.

1. Marfa, Texas


Seemingly located in the middle of nowhere, Marfa may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of luxury. You may never have heard of the tiny town. However, this desert gem has much to offer those who choose to venture out to it. Fill your imagination by day with the Chinati and Judd Foundations’ art collections, or visit the downtown area and check out a variety of shops and art galleries. 

Stay in a yurt for just under $200 per night or a safari tent underneath the stars for about $100 a night. Some places also offer charming airstream trailers for a cozier place to lay your head, although these do come with a bigger price tag. 

2. Gatlinburg, Tennessee


Looking for a relaxing, yet affordable luxury getaway in the Smoky Mountains? Head to Gatlinburg for log cabin rentals under $100, many of which are located in the heart of the mountains. With downhill skiing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and more than 900 miles of hiking trails, there’s something for everyone. If you tire of hiking, drive into town and explore Gatlinburg’s breweries, distilleries and wineries for authentic moonshine and local beer. 

The city also offers several attractions and museums that both kids and adults will love. Ride to the top of the Space Needle and enjoy 360-degree views of the Smokies, or visit the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum to marvel at remarkable items from around the world. 

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


If you’d rather spend your vacation in the city, Philadelphia is an excellent option. Visit historic landmarks including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Carpenters’ Hall. You can also get outside and enjoy the many boardwalks, gardens, plazas and sculptures Philly has to offer. Walk, bike or even trolley around the city and indulge in an iconic yet affordable cheesesteak at John’s Pork Roast.  

Philadelphia allows you a big city experience without big spending. Many hotels offer reasonable rates of about $100 per night and are located near or within the downtown area. Most museums host free admission days throughout the week, so be sure to do your research when planning your stay.

4. San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose

Situated in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica, San Jose is a year-round tourist hotspot. The city boasts skyscrapers, mountain views and beautiful temperate weather no matter when you visit. If you’re looking to save some money on travel costs and avoid peak tourist season, plan your trip between May and November. 

Various museums, like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, call San Jose their home and are relatively affordable to tour. Costa Rican markets also line the streets, selling everything from cigars to hammocks, and most shop owners expect you to bargain for a lower price. Authentic cuisine is also cheap and delectable, especially at small street food carts. 

5. Bali, Indonesia


Although airfare to Bali might be more on the expensive side, the destination is well worth it. Visit the secluded Diamond Beach for a swim in turquoise waters or stroll through the Ubud Traditional Art Market for a culturally immersive experience. For just $10, view a traditional Kecak Fire Dance, performed by more than 65 vocalists in temples and city centers. 

Accommodations are also relatively affordable. More luxurious stays will cost about $200 a night, but many hotels and inns offer rates of about $100 per night. Food is also cheap and will cost you about $20 per day per person. Be sure to check out the street food vendors and small local shops, as they will typically offer the cheapest, yet most authentic Indonesian cuisine. 

Traveling on a Budget

You want to make the most of your vacation, no matter where you go, but vacationing on a budget means you’ll have to leave room for some give and take. Choose locations and activities you truly want to see and do and save money by traveling during the tourist off-season. Try to tour museums and historic sites on free admission days and choose food on the go rather than sit-down restaurants. By planning ahead, you really can have a five-star luxury vacation on a two-star budget.