by Denisse Romero
Although the economic situation in most of the world is affecting each and every one of us in different ways, there are still several ways to enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank. Here I will list a few holiday destinations where having fun does not equal spending lots of money.

Winter Wonderlands

New York City, USA
If you are located in the US, especially on the east coast, New York can be very affordable. Get bus tickets for as low as $1 each way if you are coming from Boston or DC. I recommend BoltBus, which has electrical outlets and free wifi. Another alternative is the train – go to for ticket prices. New York is beautiful during the holidays. You can take a walk around downtown and look at the many holiday lights and decorations, go ice skating at the famous Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, go window shopping or actual shopping if you would like…the possibilities are endless.

Vancouver, Canada
Apparently ticket prices to Vancouver are a bit expensive right now, but you can get around it by booking a cheap flight to Seattle and taking the train from there. If you like skiing, then take a look at the Whistler Blackcomb Ski resort. According to, they have fantastic specials trying to lure people there after the 2010 Winter Olympics. This is normally a pricey destination but you can find killer deals during January.

Berlin, Germany
Christmas Markets in Germany are as romantic and picturesque as you imagine them to be. Most markets are free to visit and offer free concerts as well as affordable gifts and food treats. Some Christmas markets are open until New Year’s Eve. According to, the Gendarmenmarkt – one of the largest Christmas markets in Berlin – offers, “a festive gala with various bands, fireworks, and a waltz dance after midnight” for only 10 Euros. Germany as a whole offers breathtaking architecture, beautiful historical Berlin hotels, amazing food and culture, and affordable rail transportation you can use to travel within Germany and to other European countries.

Tropical Paradises

Montañita, Ecuador
This is one of the best surfing beaches in South America. But even if you are not a surfing pro, you will find things to do in this small and beautiful Pacific coastal town. You’ll also find that most of the population here speaks English. During the winter months (beach season in Ecuador), Montañita is packed with tourists and surfers from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and other parts of the world. This is not a family resort since it mostly caters to young adults offering a wide range of hostel choices (starting at $3/night per person). Besides surfing, Montañita offers several water activities such as water skiing, scuba diving, and windsurfing. At night, the town transforms itself into one huge party block playing techno, reggae, reggaeton, salsa, and merengue at every corner. Food is cheap as you can get a delicious burger on the street for $1. Ecuador also has other affordable eco-destinations you should definitely consider.


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean. With all-inclusive resort prices as low as $500 per week, Punta Cana offers fun, relaxation and affordability all in one low price. Here you can swim in the warm Caribbean waters, take a cruise, go scuba diving, visit an ecological park, or dance the night away with a live band. Punta Cana has its own airport, which allows for cheap, direct flights from most major cities. Dominicans are known for their warmth and hospitality, and they know how to celebrate the holidays with vibrant parties, excellent food, laughter and joy.

San Andres, Colombia
San Andres is an archipelago located 480 miles (720 km) northwest from the Colombian Caribbean Coast. Its clear waters and white sand beaches make it a popular destination for divers and ocean lovers. This is a duty-free port, which will probably help when buying gifts for family and friends. San Andres is multicultural with English and Spanish spoken everywhere. The night life is superb offering a mix of reggae and latin music at most venues. There are plenty of hostel and hotel options with affordable rates (eg. $25 for one night with two meals). And I just heard that American Airlines is currently (as of 12/2/09) offering very affordable tickets from the US to Bogota. From Bogota, you can take a domestic flight to San Andres.

Do you know other affordable holiday destinations that should be on this list? Contact me at with your suggestions to update this list.

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