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Bang for Your Buck: 6 Best Vacations To Take on an Average Salary

Eifel Kreutz / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Eifel Kreutz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Undoubtedly, vacationing, even in the U.S., is extraordinarily expensive. For a person on an average salary, it can feel nearly impossible.

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At GOBankingRates, we asked travel experts nationwide to give their best-kept secrets for middle-class travelers. Here are our experts’ 6 best vacations to take on an average salary.

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North Carolina’s Crystal Coast

Abby Price is the CEO and co-founder of Trekking Price’s Travel Blog, a couples travel and outdoor adventure blog. She said, “One of the best places to take a vacation on an average salary is to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. This includes destinations like Emerald Isle, Morehead City, Beaufort and Atlantic Beach.”

The travel expert, who has been to over 30 states, explained, “Like most places in the South, the Crystal Coast is known for its exceptional hospitality and delicious southern cuisine mixed with fresh and local seafood dishes.”

She continued, “Plus, the beaches and the ocean views are breathtaking any time of year. A visit to the Crystal Coast is perfect for those with an average salary because the accommodation options aren’t too expensive compared to other big-name beaches like the Outer Banks or Charleston.”

Price concluded, “Overall, the Crystal Coast is one of the best vacations to take on an average salary in the United States because it’s affordable, the locals are welcoming, the food is delicious, and the beaches are perfect for relaxing by the shore.”

Related: 11 Expensive Vacation Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2024

Southern Utah/Northern Arizona

Sasha Lezhnev, founder of Off the Beaten Travel, a website for hidden travel gems, suggested travelers on an average salary visit Southern Utah or Northern Arizona. He explained, “Flights are cheap to Las Vegas, then rent a car and drive to Page, Arizona, where Airbnbs, hotels and campsites are also affordable.”

Lezhnev, who has just finished 2 years of full-time travel across 43 states, continued, “There are 5 amazing national parks in this area, which are all free if you get an annual national park pass ($80 for the year): Zion, Bryce, the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Capitol Reef.”

He said, “My top recs for this area include kayaking the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon X and Coal Mine Canyon — all hidden gems and all affordable.”

New Mexico

Lezhnev also recommended New Mexico as an option for people traveling with an average salary. He stated, “Flights to Albuquerque are affordable, as is accommodation.”

He added, “There are several amazing cheap/free places to see in the area: Bandelier National Monument, Petroglyph National Monument, hiking in/around Ghost Ranch, Taos Pueblo (which is phenomenal), walking all around Santa Fe, and White Sands National Park.”


Hans Mast, a travel advisor with Golden Rule Travel, said people should look into Colorado during the low season. “This means spring — after ski snow season is past, but before [the] summer travel rush starts.”

He added, “This also means fall — after everyone’s back in school, but before the fall leaves rush. I’ve been thrilled to get gorgeous 4-star and 5-star condos and resorts for pennies on the dollar during these times.”

Florida’s Gulf Coast

Mast, who has flown nearly a million miles and been to around 60 countries, suggested Florida’s Gulf Coast, particularly during hurricane season.

According to Monroe County, FL, the “Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30 of each year. Historically, the most active time for hurricane development is mid-August through mid-October.”

Mast said, “One of our favorite and most affordable family vacations was to the Ft. Myers area in the fall when it was starting to get cold at home but before the huge influx of snowbirds on Jan. 10th or so (according to our local guides).”

He scored “an amazing deal on an Airbnb with a large pool for our huge extended family, and (the) beaches were totally deserted. Yes, we had many cloudy days and lots of sudden rain showers, but that’s all still very pleasant for a beach vacation, in my opinion. It does not come close to outweighing the lack of crowds, traffic, and exorbitant peak season costs.”

Waco, Texas

“If you have the slightest bit of interest in the HGTV craze with Chip and Joanna Gaines at the forefront,” added Mast, “Waco, Texas is a great, under-the-radar destination that’s extremely affordable and offers a ton to do.”

He explained, “My wife is a big Joanna Gaines fan, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I and my two-year-old daughter enjoyed the whole Silos complex.”

He continued, “And eating at Magnolia Table, about 10 minutes away, was absolutely delicious and a great atmosphere. All the food was extremely affordable, and we stayed at (a) nice 3-star hotel within a few minute’s drive for an extremely reasonable price. An unexpected bonus was we came during peak Blue Bonnet season (late March to early May) and saw stunning fields of breathtaking wildflowers.

“Finally, we drove the hour up to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center,” he said, “which has an incredible self-drive African safari. This was my third visit, and I was very happy to be taking my daughter, who loves zebras and giraffes. Feeding the giraffes from our hands through the car windows was a highlight.”

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This article originally appeared on Bang for Your Buck: 6 Best Vacations To Take on an Average Salary