Barry Choi: 3 Bucket List Destinations on a Budget

There are ways to go to a coveted vacation spot without a high price tag.

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Bucket list destinations can often be expensive, but they don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to save money when traveling without sacrificing fun. Keep in mind that traveling on a budget doesn’t mean getting the best possible price.

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Here are some “expensive” destinations I’ve visited and ways I’ve found to make my money work.

St. Barbara

You would think Santa Barbara County would be very expensive since celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Ellen, Oprah, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have homes nearby, but it’s not that bad.

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Every year, many participating hotels and resorts run a spring promotion where you get the third night free when traveling in early summer. Room rates are generally cheaper Sunday through Thursday, so you can save even more if you plan accordingly. Alternatively, nightly rates start to drop if you stay in areas such as North State, Carpinteria, or Goleta. See for more details.

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When it comes to attractions, you have a lot of variety. Polo matches run from spring to fall and cost as little as US$15 per match to watch. Double Dolphin Cruises offers various sailing excursions, such as whale watching and sunset cruises, starting at 35 USD. If you prefer to stay grounded, Cal Coast Adventures offers bike tours starting at $75 per person.

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Other popular attractions in the city have relatively low entry fees. Santa Barbara’s El Presidio State Historic Park only charges $5 for a self-guided tour. It’s a great way to experience California’s Spanish roots. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art also charges only $10 for adults and $6 for children under six and seniors 65 and older. Although it’s not a huge museum, there are still over 25,000 works of art covering over 5,000 years of human creativity.

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There are also plenty of free attractions for those who want to cut costs. The Red Tile Walking Tour is a self-guided tour that takes you through historic adobes dating back to the 1700s. A particular point of interest is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, where the bell tower offers free panoramic views of the city and the ocean. To learn more about local history, head to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, where admission is free. Then there are many beaches where you can rest and relax.

For inexpensive meals, you’ll want to head straight to a taqueria — like Rudy’s, Mony’s, or La Super-Rica — where you can get a meal for US$10-16. Note that meals could easily feed two people with certain portion sizes. In the Funk Zone you will find many wine tasting rooms, where tastings start at 20 USD. If you’re looking to splurge, consider Convivo. This local Italian restaurant serves some of the best seafood on the West Coast.

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Although airfares to Dubai do not fluctuate much, you can be careful with your travel plans. Emirates allows free stopovers in Dubai, so it’s the ideal airline to choose if your journey takes you to other parts of the Middle East, Africa or even Asia. The great thing about Emirates is that you get generous seat sizes, endless entertainment and delicious meals in all fare classes.

The cheapest time to go is summer, but keep in mind that this is also the hottest time and the desert heat can be overwhelming. However, things begin to calm down in September. September is always a cheaper season, so it’s a good time to aim.

Even though Dubai claims to have seven-star hotels, there are more affordable options. It is not difficult to find hotels under $100 a night in Al Rigga, Al Jaddaf and Deira. You will need to take carpools or public transport to get to most places, but the journeys are relatively cheap. If you’re willing to spend a little more, Business Bay hotels offer good value for money and you’re just minutes from downtown Dubai.

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You can enjoy the city for less when it comes to attractions. Al Fahidi is Dubai’s historic district, where many older buildings have been converted into art galleries, museums and cafes. While in the area, take an Abra Water boat ride across the creek to enjoy the views. it will cost you less than $1. Marina dinner cruises allow you to see Dubai’s architecture up close and will only cost you around $45. A day cruise without meals costs about half the price.

While it’s tempting to get to the “top” of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, it will cost you around $135 and you won’t even be at the top. The View Palm Jumeirah is a good alternative since the cost is closer to $35. There’s no better place to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah.

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disney world

There’s no denying that families visiting Disney World can expect to spend a lot, but there are plenty of ways to save. Consider staying offsite where hotels are cheaper. Offsite options may also offer free shuttles. Not only will you save on your accommodation, but you will also reduce your transportation costs.

Buying tickets for multiple days can save you a lot. One-day park tickets start at $109, but 10 days are $55 per day, almost half the price. Obviously, this would only help people who would like to spend most of their vacations at the various Disney parks. Alternatively, Disney World has a “special offers” page on its website, where you can find all the latest deals and discounts.

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Although Genie+ – a Disney app that helps you plan your itinerary – costs $15 per person, it lets you reserve the first available Lightning Lane at over 40 attractions. The lighting lane will allow you to bypass the standby line, saving you a lot of time. Some of the more popular rides incur an extra charge for a Lightning Lane reservation, but it might be worth it if you have limited time. There is a free version of Disney Genie, but it doesn’t allow you to book rides.

Another easy way to save money at Disney World is to bring your own food and drinks. Non-alcoholic beverages and food are permitted. The only exception is that you cannot bring containers that could be used as a projectile, such as a glass container. Coolers are allowed, but they must be small.

Saving money on travel should be a goal for everyone, but it shouldn’t be your top priority. Do your best to save money at home. With these savings, you can spend them on overseas experiences that will last you a lifetime.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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