After traveling full time for four years, we've accumulated a long list of destinations—but only a few have captured our hearts.
To make the cut, a destination must be equally breathtaking, surprising and affordable. Because the only way we travel is on a tight budget.
Here are our five favorite travel destinations that we'd happily visit again and again:
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
This small fishermen's village is halfway between Cancun and Play Del Carmen on the Caribbean coast off the Yucatán Peninsula. Thanks to its beautiful beaches and coral reef, delicious seafood and friendly people, this place has a special spot in our hearts.
We discovered Puerto Morelos while staying in a Riviera Maya resort. Someone else who was staying there told us we could get a 60-minute swedish massage on the beach for only $25 in Puerto. We were sold.
In addition to cheap massages, you can also find fresh, flavorful seafood and street food. We love the Pescado Frito at La Cueva Del Tigre Toño, Shrimp Pasta at El Picadito (on La Colonia side), and the Carne Asada Tacos and Horchata at the Pink Storage Container (across the street from the jewelry store).
Montezuma, Costa Rica
When we initially booked our tickets to San José, Costa Rica, we had no plans for where we'd stay until a neighbor told us about a quaint and beautiful beach town off the Nicoya Peninsula called Montezuma.
It's a six hour journey from San José. We took a taxi from our hotel to a bus station; rode a bus to a ferry dock; and rode a ferry to jump on another two busses (one was a school bus). But it was well worth it: Montezuma is a one-of-a-kind jungle town with uncrowded beaches, ample wildlife and delicious, healthy food.
We stayed at this Airbnb, and it might be one of our favorite stays of all time. It's perched high up on the mountainside, so you have clear views of the ocean, horizon and lush palm trees. On most days, you can expect to see monkeys swinging outside the giant kitchen window.
Montezuma Falls are worth seeing. It can be a treacherous hike depending on the weather, so be sure to wear appropriate footgear. We ran into a dog who led us up the trail—he hiked and swam us to the first waterfall, waited while we hiked up to the second one, and then took us back to town. We paid him with food.
This visit checked off a lot of firsts for Jordan and me: we'd never been to Asia, experienced an eastern culture or squatted to use the bathroom. This alone made the destination thrilling and one to remember.
We traveled to Shanghai from Beijing on the bullet train, which is a surprisingly smooth ride for 250 miles/hour. We stayed in a high-rise Airbnb with incredible views of the Shanghai skyline; ate a lot of hot pot, pastries and street food; and drank a ton of cheap beer.
This was also our first time staying with a live-in Airbnb host, which we recommend for foreign trips like this. She was able to guide us on the local experiences, feed us traditional Chinese food and teach us about her culture.
Wapta Falls, Yoho National Park, Canada
While road tripping across Oregon, Washington and southern Canada with Jordan's sister Holly and her husband Chris, we stayed at a free campsite with unobstructed views of Wapta Falls. It was a rough drive from the main road, but the incredible views made up for any damage. We set up camp on the side of a steep mountain that peered out on snow-capped mountains and a roaring water fall.
Galena, Illinois, U.S.A.
Galena is a small river town, but we can't get over the miles and miles of hilly farm and forest landscapes, as well as the historic downtown area that offers a variety of food, booze and shopping options. We've yet to see it ourselves, but they even have their own waterfalls: Thunderbay Falls.
Galena also happens to be part of our announcement: We're adding a Galena property to our roster of unique vacation rentals! In October 2018, we purchased a retro, octagon-shaped tree house in the heart of the Galena Territory. It's surrounded by trees in a secluded location with floor-to-ceiling windows and a vintage design.
We plan to preserve the home's character by keeping its original 70s fixtures and filling it with midcentury modern decor. Guests who want the chance to step back in time and relax in the forests of Galena can look forward to booking in Summer 2019!
Questions or comments?