From Asia to Central America, this year’s list of the best budget travel destinations has something for every type of traveler. Whether you want to stick close to home or venture off the beaten path, we have scoped out some of the best in cheap destinations with amazing experiences.
While some of these may be a bit more adventurous than some of you are looking for, we also include several places in the US that are a bit less touristy than your typical Los Angeles or New York trip while still offering a ton of things to do, amazing places to eat and fun for all ages.
If you see a place that strikes your fancy, there are so many amazing travel deals right now. Read our post on how to travel more and check out Flighthub to see what they have going right now!
If you ask anyone where you should go in Costa Rica, the answer will always include Manuel Antonio. Home to the smallest national park in the country, there are a ton of things to do in Manuel Antonio from soaking up the rays on the beautiful beaches to exploring the rainforests teeming with wildlife.
This area of Costa Rica is perfect for first time visitors due to the variety of things to do and see, the ease of getting around and the range of accommodation options. Rainforests, white sand beaches and an amazing array of wildlife from three toed sloths to white faced capuchin monkeys to endless species of little critters, there is plenty of entertainment for all ages. Manuel Antonio is great for families looking to enjoy beach life while also exploring the adventure that Costa Rica is known for.
Read on for our guide for everything you need to know for planning your trip to Manuel Antonio, including our top things to do in Manuel Antonio as well as where to stay, eat and how to get around.
A Costa Rica family vacation is a must do for those who love nature, animals and adventure. For outdoor families like ours, there is no better destination, especially when you have a nature obsessed kid!
Having been to Costa Rica twice already, we were super excited when offered the opportunity to take a Costa Rica family vacation with Intrepid travel.
I have done two tours with Intrepid already and loved them both. My first trip was to China on my own as a 20 something traveler and last year I took an amazing Borneo family holiday with my 7 year old son in tow.
This trip to Costa Rica is a bit different, as it is a Solo Parent tour. I’ve wanted to check these trips out for a while. I even tried to book one on our around the world journey, but couldn’t get the dates to work. Thus, you can imagine how excited we were to finally get the chance to check out this variant of the family tours offered by Intrepid, all while in one of our favorite countries!
One of the best places to visit in Panama is the Gamboa rainforest along the Panama Canal. There are many Gamboa tours offered from Panama City, as well as through the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, but the best tour in Gamboa is one that gets you close to the amazing biodiversity that this area is known for.
During our visit to the Gamboa rainforest, we checked out several boat tour options. Hands down, 9 North Panama Safaris was the best. If you love animals, serene nature and photography, you have to take one of their boat safaris along the Panama Canal and Lake Gatun.
Our third month of Gap Year travel was a bit different than what most people would do while taking a year off. We started off the month in Panama and then came home for 3 days to then set off again on a quick media visit to San Luis Obispo County a few hours north of Los Angeles. Finally, a few days before Christmas we were home for the holidays!
Cian had always said he was fine to miss school and fine to go away for the year as long as he could be home for two of his favorite holidays – Halloween and Christmas! So we made sure to make that happen. As much as I would have loved to keep on traveling from Panama all the way down to South America, I knew that he needed to be home for the holidays even if we couldn’t participate in all the holiday activities he normally likes.
The main focus of our 6 week journey through Central America was to take Spanish classes throughout the region. After a few weeks of taking spanish classes in Guatemala, we headed to further south to learn Spanish in Panama with Habla Ya.
Learning Spanish in another country is a great way to fully immerse yourself into the language as well as have the opportunity to practice every day in real life situations. Our experience traveling through Central America learning Spanish was a great way to learn about the different countries, local ways of speaking as well as sample different types of instruction.
It has been a month since we set off on our second adventure of our gap year and our first month of full backpacking type travels. (You can read last month’s recap here if you missed it.)
In the past 30 days we have been to Guatemala for almost 3 weeks, a short 4 days in Costa Rica to meet up with Paul and 1 week in Panama.
Overall I have to say it’s been amazing and all I had dreamed it could be. We have had so much fun, seen so much, learned so much and just enjoyed being together.
Cian really is an amazing travel partner. He keeps me grounded when I’m losing it, is always happy go lucky and ready for an adventure which helps me muddle through when I’m feeling negative about something and he just LOVES it all. It has been an absolute pleasure to show him some of my old backpacking towns.
We have made mistakes and are slowly figuring things out, but overall, I can’t imagine ever going back to our regular day to day life! Of course we will have to I guess.. 🙂
Guatemala is one of the best places to visit if you want to learn to speak Spanish. This beautiful Central American country is full of unique experiences that not only help you with your Spanish, but can also provide full immersion cultural activities.
There are so many Spanish schools in Guatemala that there is something for everyone, including for families. Guatemala is an ideal destination to learn Spanish in that it is not far from the US, classes are quite inexpensive and the locals speak Spanish much slower than many other Latin American countries.
After a few weeks of traveling the country researching and testing out various programs, we have come up with our thoughts on the best Spanish schools in Guatemala.
Nicaragua is high on my travel to do list (well what isn’t really?). When a friend took off with her husband and 20 month old son for a 2 week trip, I was captivated by their adventures! I loved following their journey on Facebook and Instagram, so I asked them to share their trip with us. Selfishly it’s partly so I will know exactly where to go when we finally make it down, but also I thought others might enjoy learning more about an up and coming family destination that is easily accessibly from Los Angeles. Thank you Misti for your contribution![hr]
Nicaragua is a geographically diverse country, filled with volcanoes, lakes, beaches, jungles, mountains, coffee plantations, islands, wildlife, cities, villages, markets, lovely people and endless options for a travel itinerary. Deciding where to visit was difficult and involved loads of pouring over our Lonely Planet and various sites on the internet. We chose four varied destinations, deciding to spend a few days in each; a colorful colonial city, a peaceful volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, a tiny and secluded Caribbean island and a hip but relaxing surf village on the Pacific coast.