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Saturday, March 9, 2024

5 Budget Destinations for May

Right now everyone is getting ready for Spring Break, but if you're looking to save money, maybe skip all that in favor of a getaway in May. Not only will you be traveling in between two really popular times of the year - Spring Break and Summer - but it also means you'll save money by going when the crowds are lower and airlines and hotels are looking to entice people with deals. 

Beat the crowds and high prices of Spring Break and Summer by opting to travel in May instead. Here are 5 budget destinations:

Now's the time for a getaway with better weather, that'll leave you with money in the bank and the chance to spend more time doing things there, because you aren't jostling with a ton of other tourists. Here are 5 places that can help you do more with a smaller budget:

New Orleans, Louisiana

With both Mardi Gras and the Jazz Festival (over on May 5th) both out of the way, New Orleans is heading into a quieter time, meaning you can really explore the city without a million other people.  I've written  quite a few posts about The Big Easy, but if you're looking for free or cheap things to do, walk along the water and see some history and outdoor art/statues/sculptures at Woldenberg Riverfront Park, enjoy a ton of street musicians including the Jazz Museum's free concert series on Tuesdays, go to The Sazerac House to learn about (and sample) the city's signature cocktail, and spend the day taking in art, inside and outside, strolling through a botanical garden and so much more at City Park.

Portland, Oregon

Now, I maybe be biased because I live here, but Portland really hits its stride in May, when the nicer weather starts coming in and the Rose Festival starts. If you're an outdoorsy person, there are neverending places to hike, we have tons of wineries, vineyards, orchards, and farmers' markets to visit. If you're a city person, like me, then you'll be happy to know that it's very walkable and our public transportation is accessible. For freebies, walk along the river and enjoy the great weather at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, take in the colors at the International Rose Test Garden, hit up Portland Saturday Market, and maybe see some live music at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Photo by James Ting on Unsplash

Santorini, Greece

Are you looking to get some sun and culture and also get the heck out of the country? Then pack your swimsuit and sunscreen and head to Greece to walk up endless steps, bask in the beauty of it all, and lay on the (black sand) beach. When you're tired of soaking up the sun on the sand, save even more dollars by hitting up the archaeological site of Thera, sample wines with breathtaking views at Santo Wines, and explore the winding streets of the cities of Fira and Oia.

Photo by Ronny Rondon on Unsplash

Grand Cayman

May is right between high season and hurricane season and is perfect for those that love to do water activities like snorkeling and diving. Swim with stingrays, swim through a shipwreck, and check out an artificial reef. Not everything is sand and sea though. You can explore the island for free by doing things like visiting Camana Bay's with its observation tower, farmers' and artists' market, and fountains. Get cultured at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, visit historical Bodden Town, Hike the Mastic Trail, and indulge in some birdwatching.

Photo by David Köhler on Unsplash

Rome, Italy

If you're really wanting to hit all the highlights of Rome, but not stand in hours-long lines to do it, May is kind of the perfect time to do it. Visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, go to the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. All those cost money though, so consider augmenting your trip with freebies like tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain (or just watching everyone else invest in wishes), go to St. Peter's Basilica, see street performers in the evening at Piazza Navona, climb the Spanish Steps (but don't sit on them!), and hit up the market at Campo 'de Fiori.  

As a bonus, I've added a sixth destination as a runner up: 

Photo by Omar Elsharawy on Unsplash

Cairo, Egypt

Whether you want to gorge yourself with delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, or are dying to see the pyramids and the Sphinx, May is a wonderful time to visit Cairo and cross off that bucket-list destination. Those must-see sites are easily done in a day or two, so perhaps a cruise down the Nile is in order. While that won't break the bank, you can add in free activities like browsing the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, walk through the oldest part of Cairo on El Moez Street, walk across the Nile on the Qasr El Nil Bridge, and visit Tahrir Square (where you can find the famous Egyptian Museum, which is pretty affordable at ~$9pp admission fee).

There are a lot of ways to make a trip anywhere budget-friendly, or at least more affordable. You just need to know when to go and what to do. Even if you want to do all the major tourist attractions, you can always add free activities to make your trip cheaper and to get more out of your visit, just Google what free things there are to do wherever you're going.

May is also an ideal reason to take your mom (or other mom in your life) on a trip in honor of Mother's Day. Of course, you probably won't be able to top that gift, unless you take her on a better trip next year. I always recommend taking a trip with your loved ones, because you never know how much time you have with them and traveling together can be wonderful bonding experience. If you're more interested in, or only the budget for, just getting her a travel gift, I'll be posting my recommended gifts in April. I'll have things in every price point. In the meantime, you can look back at last year's list.

What are your favorite off-season vacation destinations?

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