July 3, 2013 at 3:45 PM ET
In classic fashion, it's summer vacation time, but you've got no time to plan and not much cash to spread. Not to worry, just consider one of these five fun trips, each budgeted based on leaving from a different U.S. city around the country, that ring in at less than $1800 per couple for airfare and hotel.
For a chill slice of island life complete with romantic pirate coves, head to this quiet chain in the northern Bahamas. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence, with celebrations taking place all summer, making it the perfect time to visit.
Watersports, birding, and fishing abound. Don't go in search of wild nightlife, but you might find wild horses.
Based on an Orlando departure, July 10-September 2 Green Turtle Cove and Silver Airways has a hotel and airfare deal for $859 per person for seven nights. Total: about $1800. Also check Bahamas.com for anniversary promotions.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour
Why go all the way to Napa for a tour? For just as fabulous scenic beauty and the libation that's way hotter than wine, explore the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience. You'll venture off the main road, and your reward is barrels full of elixir.
Historic bed and breakfast The Woodford Inn offers a Summer of Bourbon special rate of $129 a night. A five night stay Sunday-Thursday with tax will run about $700. Driving from Chicago will run you about $200 in gas money, and you'll want to bring the car for navigating from distillery to distillery. Pack an additional $50-$150 for refuels and admission fees. Total: $950-$1050
Columbia River Gorge
For travelers willing to forego luxury hotels, an inexpensive dream trip is up for grabs in breathtaking northern Oregon.
Head to Columbia River Gorge for vast swathes of gorgeous scenery, endless hiking opportunities, magical waterfalls, and all-American entertainment. Watch a movie and wolf down a pizza under the stars, or for a $3 cone soak up the view of Mt. Adams. Cheap eats are plentiful if you know where to go for happy hour options, and camping is dirt cheap.
Based on a Denver departure, booking Frontier flights and a full-size car on Orbitz for Jul 18 through 23 sets you back about $850. If you're not a camper, a room at the Vagabond Lodge will run about $500. Total: $1350
Paris isn't in the budget this year? Flights are a fraction of the cost to Quebec where you get the French accents without that pesky euro. And if you've run out of time to make plans, don't fret – the work is done for you with a slew of detailed sightseeing itineraries.
It's no paltry runner-up, either – Quebec holds its own with history, cuisine, outdoor recreation, and culture to rival higher-ticket destinations worldwide.
If you don't mind a shared bath, rooms in residences at l’Université Laval are about $73 a night. Porter Airlines runs flights from New York City to Quebec City for $420 a person for weekday departures most of the summer. Total: About $1200 for a five night stay June through August.
Described by the New York Times as a “trendy capital of Colombian cool, safe enough to visit but still seedy enough to feel far from home,” frenetic Bogota offers some surprising draws. You'll find the Ciclovía, the world’s largest bicycling network, and cheap options for bike tours, besides fascinating museums like the Museo Histórico Policía and the expected nightlife (try the aguardiente), handicraft shopping, and coffee.
Based on an Atlanta departure, airfare drops to below $1,000 for two leaving August 16 on Spirit Airlines. Add about $500 for a week at one of the most popular airbnb apartments in the city. Total: $1500.
Follow Dana McMahan, food, travel, and fitness writer: @danamac.