If your family has chosen to forgo the traditional Christmas and same old turkey dinner this year and is looking to get away to someplace exotic instead, then perhaps this list of holiday hot-spots that won't break the bank will help you to narrow down the possible destinations. (For related insight, read more about easy ways to stay on budget on vacation.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Though this holiday hot-spot was once thought of as an expensive destination, this is no longer the case. Flights to and from Las Vegas are often quite affordable. You can generally get a package deal that includes flights and a hotel for around $500 per person, though this can vary a bit depending on where you're flying from and which days you plan to stay. Weekend stays in Vegas hotels are usually a bit more expensive.
Keep in mind, though, that the cost also depends on when you book your package and with whom. There are a variety of discount travel options, so it's a good idea to shop around. Once you're in Vegas, there are plenty of inexpensive activities to take part in, though you should be aware that some activities, such as the big shows and tourist attractions, can really add up. If you're really looking to keep costs to a minimum, do some research on inexpensive or free activities that you can take part in, such as the Bellagio's fountains, or you could visit Santa under the big top at Circus Circus.
If you're looking to get away from the snow and cold, the all-inclusive resorts and the close proximity of Mexico, make this a highly-popular holiday destination for sunshine-filled Christmas getaways. Mexico offers great weather during the winter months, along with great beaches and inexpensive food options. Cheap flights are often available during the winter months. Just shop around and you should be able to put together a fairly inexpensive holiday. (Read more about the ways to save on last-minute travel.)
Similar to Mexico, the Caribbean islands offer a sunshine-filled holiday without having to travel too far. The beach town of Negril in Jamaica is often a holiday hot-spot for budget travelers. You can find cheap accommodations, food, and activities in Negril, including holiday rental homes that are generally a cheaper option than staying in hotels or resorts. It's estimated that you can find suitable accommodation in Negril for as little as $75 a night, which is an exceptional value considering the lovely beaches and beautiful weather.
If your heart is set on Europe for this year's holiday getaway, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary are still relatively inexpensive European holiday destinations. Though much of Europe is far from cheap, these countries tend to be much less expensive on the whole. It's estimated that someone on an extremely tight budget could get by on about $70 a day in Hungary. This is largely due to cheaper travel costs once you're in the country on the rail system, and typically cheaper food and drink costs as well. You'll also find no shortage of history and tourist sites in these three countries.
Quebec City, Canada
If you want to experience an exotic European getaway but don't want to pay European prices, Quebec City is a great destination. This French-speaking city in the northern region of Quebec, Canada, guarantees a snowy winter experience in a city that has a certain old-world charm. One of the great benefits is that you'll be able to get away somewhere that feels foreign, but the flights are much shorter than one to Europe, and the currency exchange is generally quite close to the American dollar.
If you're close enough to the border, you may be able to save some money (and enjoy the scenery) by driving across. There's plenty to do in this historic city, and there are many Christmas events that the whole family is sure to enjoy. (For related insight, read more about unique winter vacations.)
The Bottom Line
Getting a great deal on a vacation at any time of year really depends on doing your research. There are many holiday destinations that can provide great value at any time of the year, and some of the more expensive destinations can be done relatively on the cheap if you find good deals on flights and accommodations or travel during non-peak times.
Flying on the holiday itself is often cheaper than many other days during the holiday season. So if you're not opposed to traveling on Christmas or New Year's Day, you should definitely be able to save yourself some money. Be willing to compromise a bit on where and when you go, and you should be able to find yourself a good deal. Alternatively, you can book far in advance of the holiday rush on travel bookings, which usually occurs in November, if you decide where you'd like to go ahead of time. It all comes down to doing your homework and weighing out your options. In the end, your wallet will thank you. (For related insight, read more about travel tips for keeping you and your money safe.)