While others focus on New Year’s resolutions, my family and I come up with a dream list of where we want to go. Places we missed the previous year (Thailand and the Cook Islands) often get rolled over, but we always add new places (this year, South Korea) that can — with careful planning — be done affordably.
In 2024, more than half of American travelers plan to go where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown, according to the online travel agency Booking.com. Sixty percent said they would look for “copycat vacations” or cheaper alternatives to expensive places.
“Consumers more and more are expanding their appetites to trying new destinations, which spreads them out to experience places that are less traveled and more affordable,” said Brett Keller, the chief executive of the online agency Priceline.
Frugal strategies — like traveling in off- or shoulder seasons, going where the dollar is strong and sampling unsung destinations — help make the most of your budget. The following destinations offer fresh and affordable incentives to visit in 2024.
A stronger dollar buys more abroad. Instead of heading to typically expensive U.S. spots, like Hawaii or New York, take your buying power to an affordable destination for a bonus.
Mexico, where $1 is worth more than 17 pesos, has long been a bargain for Americans and remains the most popular international destination, drawing more than 33 million visitors in 2022 (the last year for which National Travel and Tourism Office statistics are available).
The U.S. State Department warns travelers from visiting several states in Mexico because of crime, but not Nayarit on the central Pacific Coast, just north of Puerto Vallarta.
There, travelers can now visit Islas Marías, a biodiverse archipelago about 60 miles offshore and designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The government recently began offering trips to the former penal colony, which has been refashioned as an environmental and education center. For now, weekend-only trips run via ferry from San Blas and cost about 5,000 pesos a person (roughly $300), including meals, tours and two nights in former prison cells that have been updated. The no-frills trip offers opportunities to spot rare species like the yellow-headed parrot and the Tres Marías raccoon as well as migratory whale sharks.