8 Trips You Didn’t Know You Could Afford in 2019

Your next vacation might not be as expensive as you think. In some of the destinations below, the U.S. dollar will go further in 2019, with unexpectedly reasonable rates for lodging, activities, and dining; in others, I’ve unearthed hidden gems that are actually affordable. And while the cost of flights is never as low as most travelers want it to be, I’ve even found budget-friendly flights to many of these spots. Plan your next escape to one of these surprisingly cheap places to travel.

Hawaii

garden in hawaii
Mike Brake/Shutterstock

Affordable airfare is making the everyman’s bucket list trip a reality for 2019 (and we’re not just talking about flights from the West Coast). According to Airfarewatchdog, SmarterTravel’s sister site, some flights to Hawaii actually cost less than $500 from East Coast and Midwest cities in 2018. The reason? Multiple major airlines announced new routes to Hawaii, creating fierce competition for the best fares—a trend that’s expected to continue in 2019.

Hawaiian Airlines will soon offer Basic Economy fares, while budget carrier Southwest Airlines is expected to launch service to Hawaii soon. And while you can easily spend a pretty penny at luxury resorts, you can just as easily save with vacation rental properties steps from the beach.

Where to stay: Enjoy affordable accommodations at the Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel, located across the street from world-famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

kuala lumpur at night
f111photo/Shutterstock

Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia offer an exotic vacation destination with a not-so-exotic price tag. “Although the country is relatively more well developed than its neighbors around Southeast Asia, the Malaysian capital has some of the world’s cheapest rates for five-star hotels,” says travel blogger Bino Chua of I Wander. You can stay at luxe hotels for under $200 a night—and at three- or four-stars for even less.

Currently, one Malaysian ringgit is equal to 24 US cents, which means your dollar will go a long way when it comes to meals and activities, too. And in many cases, you won’t even need to pull out your wallet—admission-free museums, walking tours, religious sites, and parks make it easy to save. As for transportation, “a 10- to 15-minute car ride within Kuala Lumpur will cost around $3 USD (or even less),” says Chua. If you hop on one of the purple GO KL buses, you’ll pay nothing.

Where to stay: You can regularly find rates under $100 per night at the newly opened Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur, which offers accommodations with kitchens and complimentary breakfast.

London, England

london at night
Tono Balaguer/Shutterstock

London is calling in 2019. “The fall in the value of the British pound means foreign visitors get more bang for their buck when visiting the U.K., with competitive prices on hotels, attractions, and shopping,” says Freddie Julius of Tourist England. “The U.K.’s political instability, the result of a lack of clarity in the Brexit negotiations, means this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

Airfarewatchdog predicts more flight deals to the U.K., too, noting that airfares have been decreasing with competition from low-cost carriers and the introduction of basic economy pricing. London also offers a wealth of free museums and parks that have always made a trip across the pond a decent deal.

Where to stay: The Ibis London Shepherds Bush – Hammersmith Hotel offers above-average breakfast at no additional cost, and is about a 10-minute walk from the nearest Tube station.

Israel

dome of the rock jerusalem
FadiBarghouthy/Shutterstock

“Israel—which had its best year ever thanks to more than four million visiting tourists in 2018—meets the needs of every type of traveler, including the budget-conscious visitor, because of its delicious yet inexpensive food options, wide range of hotel choices, many free historical sites, and wonderful outdoor activities,” says Ellen Shapiro, North America PR Director for the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

Explore the ancient biblical sites and colorful flea markets of Jerusalem; stroll Tel Aviv’s vibrant neighborhoods; go for a hike and sample wine in the north; or float in the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth) and Red Sea in the south—all of it can be done on a budget. Another way you’ll save? Many of the Holy Land’s hotels offer lavish, complimentary buffet breakfasts so you can eat shakshuka to your heart’s content (and, of course, you can fill up on cheap and delicious hummus and falafel everywhere you go).

Where to stay:Tal by the Beach Hotel Tel Aviv is a boutique hotel that won’t break the bank. Complimentary amenities include happy hours with hors d’oeuvres and bike rentals to explore the city.

Curacao

curacao beach

Curacao is seriously underrated, and not just because of its beautiful beaches and candy-colored capital of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dutch-Caribbean island is also affordable, especially during the summer, when you can score round-trip flights in the $300 range from many major U.S. cities. Luxurious beachfront resorts are surprisingly affordable, too—think less than $200 per night. The food is surprisingly cheap as well, considering the island has one of the best culinary reputations in the Caribbean.

Where to stay: The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort has a Four Diamond rating from AAA, yet it offers rates under $200 per night almost year-round. It also offers an all-inclusive option.

Lake Como, Italy

 

lake como

You don’t need to bring home John Legend’s and Chrissy Tiegen’s paychecks to vacation in Lake Como. Save by staying in the historic city of Como, which offers reasonably priced lodging and is the area’s transportation hub. “The Romans first identified Como as a holiday destination,” explains Shelley Clark, spokesperson for Como-based Lario Hotels. “Today, in addition to being the gateway to what many consider the world’s most beautiful lake, Como remains a world-class destination loaded with quaint charm and an impressive array of historical, cultural, retail, and dining options.”

Free and low-cost activities include exploring the nearby nature trails and fairy-tale villages that surround the lake and riding the inexpensive Como-Brunate funicular to the Brunate, the “balcony of the Alps.” You can even enjoy a bit of luxury for less at the Lido di Cernobbio, which offers a glamorous poolside experience for less than $25 per person.

Where to stay: You can find reasonable nightly rates at the hip Posta Design Hotel, located in Como’s medieval old town just a short stroll from the waterfront promenade.

El Salvador

volcano in el salvador

Did you know the official currency of El Salvador is the U.S. dollar? Not only does this take the guesswork out of budgeting for a vacation, but everything is also very affordable in El Salvador, Central America’s smallest country. Admission to two of the country’s most famous sites—Joya de Cerén, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (known as the “Pompeii of the Americas”), and San Andrés, a pre-Colombian site—costs less than $5.

You can also hike the country’s highest volcano, take an inexpensive surf lesson at Playa del Tunco, and learn about the country’s coffee culture at El Carmen Estate. Bonus: More than a dozen U.S. airports offer direct flights to El Salvador; from New York, it’s only five hours.

Where to stay: The luxe Sal & Luz Hotel comes at a reasonable price, with a quiet location and fabulous on-site restaurant.

Iceland

 

northern lights in iceland

While Iceland is a relatively short flight from the East Coast, its pricey reputation has also kept many travelers at a distance. But that should change in 2019. “Right now, the U.S. dollar is worth 20 percent more than it was in early 2018,” says Mero Geesey of Carpe Mundo, a travel agency that specializes in Iceland. “There have also been a lot of new hotels and guesthouses that have opened up within the last year, and several new tour operators offering glacier hikes, snorkel tours, and more.”

Hidden Iceland, for example, provides travelers with intimate alternatives to overcrowded and overpriced experiences. “Instead of the Blue Lagoon, you can explore an ice cave as part of a two-day trip to a glacier lagoon that also includes searching for the northern lights,” says Ryan Connolly, cofounder and marketing manager of Hidden Iceland. “In the spring, travelers can play with newly birthed lambs at an authentic farm guesthouse.”

Where to stay: About an hour outside of Reykjavik, Lambastadir Guesthouse is located on a farm and features an outdoor hot tub and sauna.

Budget Your Time and Be More Successful

by Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA , September 2013

One of our company’s most valuable assets is its general managers and their time. A certain amount of structure is necessary in the typical business day of a general manager. 

While the circumstances of every hotel are different due to size, level of service, number of departments, etc., and therefore one daily schedule does not work everywhere, we do outline a basic schedule as a starting point for general manager to develop his/her own schedule. 

We feel it is important for a general manager to make and keep lists in an organized fashion. A number of Post-it notes and numerous separated sheets of paper will not work. It must be a notebook, pad or Scan Card System. 

The suggested schedule outlined below is designed to keep the general manager focused on various tasks and minimize interruptions. While this schedule will not work for everyone and certainly won’t convert a disorganized scatterbrained person into a model for a time management class, it will serve as a workable, beginning structure for many. It is based on dividing the day into quarters. 

First Quarter 

During this period the first thing to be accomplished should be a walk around the hotel to insure the day is starting smoothly with proper staffing, morning operations are well underway and that the hotel is presentable to guests who are coming from their rooms or into the hotel for various events. 

Following that walking inspection, the general manager should stop by the front office to become familiar with the previous night’s occupancy, front office log and the expected departures and arrivals situation for the next day or two. Subsequently he/she should collect the various reports prepared overnight and retire to the office to complete the various daily reporting and administrative chores required. 

During this period interruptions should be kept to a minimum, no appointments should be scheduled and receiving telephone calls should be avoided. They can be returned later. This is a good time for the general manager to work on any tasks that he/she does not particularly like to do. Following this schedule during the first portion of the day should result in the hotel getting of to a good start and the general manager completing most of the required administrative and mundane tasks early in the day. 

Second Quarter

This period of time which runs to or through lunch should be used for inspecting and training. It is a good time to walk various parts of the hotel again to see what has been accomplished and how well it was done. 

Stop and visit with supervisors and line staff in order to be familiar with them and their current challenges. It may be a good idea to set up one or more brief meetings to discuss problems / solutions or to work one-on-one training key people. 

Right at noon return telephone calls which were received earlier from people whom you do not particularly want or need to talk to in your time zone. 

Overall, this fourth is when the general manager gets around the hotel to do many of the hands on things it takes to successfully manage a hotel and interacts with the staff. 

Third Quarter 

This period typically falls in the first half of the afternoon. This time might be used as marketing time outside the hotel, longer staff and training meetings, and various other tasks. This time is less structured and can be used to make and receive telephone calls, etc. 

Last Quarter 

This time segment should include finishing up any projects which need to be completed and various items from the previous fourth of the day. The time should also be used to tour the hotel ad make inquiries as to its preparedness for the evening’s business and the appearance of the property. This is also the time where the general manager should review notes and lists made during the day, cross off items accomplished, follow up on critical complete items and add items for the future. It may also be used to pick up the telephone and check with subordinates about their own lists. 

General Comments 

We believe general managers should vary their arrival and departure times and should approach the hotel from different directions and enter through different doors. He/she should park the car in different places around the hotel’s property and even on adjacent streets occasionally. The reasons will become self evident in a short time. 

General managers need to help their staff manage their time in an efficient way. Over time we have found that strong time management skills have the biggest effect on a hotel’s success. 

The general manager should set the example on good time management and efficient work habits so that the key staff also learns to remain focused on the various tasks, projects and goals they are working on rather than jumping from one issue to another without ever competing one