Top 3 Vacation Ideas Under $500

 
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For many people, taking a vacation can often seem like a luxury that you can’t afford. Between travel costs, hotel stays, and eating out, the costs can easily stack up. But you don’t need to stay in the nicest hotels and fork out the big bugs for expensive attractions to have a good time. Whether you’re taking a solo vacation all by yourself, planning a trip with your friends, or on your annual family getaway, there are plenty of places you can go that don’t cost a fortune. To give you some ideas for your next getaway, here are 3 vacations under $500 to keep your bank account happy.

Camping at the Grand Canyon

A campsite at the Grand Canyon

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One of the great things about camping is that it is easily one of the cheapest ways to take a vacation. A camping trip to the Grand Canyon is a great way to save money while still getting to experience one of America's most iconic natural wonders. When you camp, you don't have to pay for expensive hotel rooms, expensive meals in restaurants, or other costs associated with other vacations. All you need for a camping trip is a tent, sleeping bags, and a few basic essentials, and you’re good to go. Many campsites in the Grand Canyon are even free—so you can get the full experience without breaking the bank.

Another benefit of camping at the Grand Canyon is that you get to take advantage of the many free and low-cost activities available. From hiking to fishing, there are plenty of activities to keep you and your family entertained without having to pay a fortune. You can also visit the nearby national parks and monuments, or take a dip in the cool waters of the Colorado River. With so much to see and do at the Grand Canyon, it should be easy to keep your vacation under $500.

A Beach Vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC

The beach at Myrtle Beach

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Myrtle Beach is an amazing place to visit for a vacation, and you don't have to spend a fortune to have a great time. There are plenty of free activities to do while you're in town, so you won't miss out on the fun. One of the best activities is to take a walk along the boardwalk, especially during sunset hours. The view of the beach is stunning and the people-watching here is second to none. Once you’re ready to take a break from the sun, there are plenty of museums in the area to explore. The Myrtle Beach Art Museum is always free and has a wide range of art from local and international artists.

While it is always tempting to book a hotel that is right on the beach when you take a beach vacation, it is much easier to keep your vacation under $500 if you book a hotel a little further away. By keeping your options open and booking your hotel well in advance, it is not uncommon to find a hotel room for as low as $200 for the weekend. This applies to many other beach towns as well, so you can pick a vacation spot closer to home to save on travel costs. If you are on the East Coast, Panama City Beach in Florida is another city with cheap hotels. On the West coast, consider Eureka, California, and if you are in the South, you can go to Corpus Christi, Texas or Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Take a 3 or 4-Day Cruise to the Caribbean

A cruise ship at dock

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A last-minute cruise might not seem like the best option for a vacation under $500, but there are shorter voyages that sail for 3 to 4 days that can actually be pretty cheap. To get the best price, you should go during the off-season months of September and October or January and February. During these months, there are many deals available, especially with larger cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. (For the absolute best deals, go with Carnival) If you’re flexible on the destination, you can often find amazing deals under $200 per ticket, keeping a vacation for 2 well under $500. 

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, you can look for deals on smaller, more boutique cruise lines such as Windstar and Crystal Cruises. These cruises are generally more expensive, but they often offer packages that include airfare and cruise fare for under $300 during the off-season months. Additionally, these smaller cruise lines often have more of a “boutique” feel, with fewer crowds and more intimate experiences. Either way you choose to go, cruises include food and entertainment in the price of the ticket, so you won’t have to worry about spending any more cash once you are there!

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