By Sarah Waffle Gavin, on January 7, 2014

2014 travel splurges and steals

With it being the first full week of January, that can only mean one thing. No, we’re not talking about hitting the fitness center (though who’d argue against needing a few laps on the treadmill?). While your most recent trip may have been the obligatory family holiday trip, being the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning that first vacation of the year. And while your travel wish list may look like your Christmas shopping list and feel a little overwhelming, we’ve crunched some numbers to help you narrow down your travel wish list for 2014.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know when I tell you that we live in a huge world. A world that includes 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces, over 7,000 Caribbean islands, and 12 South American countries. And that’s in the Western Hemisphere alone! But if you have a budget in mind, we can help narrow down your choices to find the right trip for you.

We recently looked at the data for a variety of different types of trips, from a Caribbean vacation to a European jaunt to a Disney family trip to a Pacific Northwest getaway and more. Here’s a little bit of what we found.

Tropical Vacation

Cancun or bust

Do you want sand between your toes and a tropical drink in hand with views of turquoise waters? Then head to Mexico, to Cancun or the Riviera Maya, where you can have a five-night vacation for two for as little as $1,575 when flying out of New York City. That’s the price of a single flight in some cases! Mexico is our tropical vacation steal of 2014. However, you can still travel on a budget to the Dominican Republic, St. John (in the Virgin Islands), and Puerto Rico for less than $2,000 (hotel and flight included for two people). That’s over $1,000 less than vacationing in Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos, making up our 2014 Caribbean splurges.


But you could actually fly to Europe from New York City for a five-day vacation for two for nearly the same price as these Caribbean steals. A five-day vacation to Madrid and Barcelona starts as low as $1,850. Paris and London aren’t out of the question, however. A five-day vacation to Paris starts at $2,250, while a five-day vacation to London starts at $2,152, both of which are $1,000 less than our Caribbean splurge destinations.

Pacific Northwest

  • Seattle

  • Bora Bora

  • Paris

  • Spain

  • London

  • Thailand

  • Brazil

For the most budget-friendly vacation, head west, to the Pacific Northwest for an urban getaway (and where skiing isn’t far away). A five-day vacation for two to Seattle, Washington from New York City starts at less than $1,300! You can use that extra savings to hit the slopes at any number of the ski resorts that are less than a couple hours from Seattle. A five-day vacation for two to Portland is only a couple hundred dollars more, starting at $1,531, while Vancouver is the Pacific Northwest’s splurge destination, starting at $1,792, which is still much less than many other vacations.


It’s a big year for soccer fans in Brazil so you might expect that with the country in the international spotlight, you’ll pay for it all year long. A five-night vacation for two to Sao Paulo from New York City starts at $2,495, while the same vacation to Rio de Janeiro starts at $3,980. You better start saving now, as these prices aren’t likely to decrease.

Central America

Viewfinder Tip: For the lowest airfare, book your trip 6 to 10 weeks in advance. This is typically the window of when the best airfares can be found.

If you want a Latin America eco-vacation at Pacific Northwest prices, head to Central America. Many people think Costa Rica when they think Central America, and for good reason, with everything from lush rainforest to pristine beaches to diverse wildlife to outdoor adventures. However, Costa Rica is our Central America splurge for 2014, as a five-night vacation for two from New York City starts at $2,833. But fear not, as a Central America vacation is within reach for you budget travelers. Simply head north to Guatemala, where a five-night vacation for two starts at $1,413. That’s half the cost of a Costa Rica vacation!

Disney Family Vacation

Last, but certainly not least, is that coveted family vacation. But not just any family vacation, but the Holy Grail of family vacations: Disney. If you think that a five-day vacation for four from Chicago to Orlando will be the best bang for your buck, then think again. A Disney vacation for four to Orlando starts at $3,374, while the same vacation to Anaheim starts at $2,200. Same mouse, more savings.

Honorable Mention

It’s the year for South America

South America

Not only is it the year of Brazil, but evidently the year for South America in its entirety. A five-night vacation for two from New York City to Santiago, for example, begins at $3,248, while a five-night vacation to Buenos Aires starts at $2,745, saving about $500.

Adventure Travel

Shark diving, cave diving, and safaris aren’t activities you can do just anywhere. If these are on your bucket list, however, traveling to South Africa will save you $1,800 over traveling to Australia.

Exotic Paradise

Bora Bora may be known for their overwater bungalows, but if you’re interested in saving a few thousand dollars, then choose Fiji or Phuket, Thailand. A five-night vacation for two from Los Angeles to Fiji starts at $2,830, while you’ll save a few hundred dollars going instead to Phuket, which starts at $2,189.