1. San Antonio, Texas, USA
Whether you're craving Tex-Mex or authentic Mexican food, San Antonio has it. Before my family could afford international destinations, we'd road trip from Houston to San Antonio for the weekend. From strolling along the San Antonio River Walk to chasing thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, we always had a blast. There are also plenty of historic sites that you can visit like the San Fernando Cathedral, which hosts nightly light shows at no cost.
If you find yourself visiting San Antonio during the weekend, be sure to wander through the farmer's market at the Pearl Brewery. After graduating from college, I spent two years living in San Antonio and the Pearl Brewery was the first stop for my out-of-town visitors.
2. Puebla, Mexico
I spent a month traveling throughout Mexico last January and I found Puebla to be a pleasant surprise. The city is a UNESCO heritage site and it's easy to see why. Architecture lovers could spend days exploring the historical center and marveling at what seems like an endless amount of churches.
Despite this being Mexico's fourth largest city, you'll hardly see any other tourists. It felt like I had the place all to myself. It's one of those cities where you can just soak in the tranquil atmosphere. The region is known for its Mole sauce, which you can't miss while visiting.
3. Hawaii, the USA
I go to Hawaii every year. I’ve been going for years and love all of the islands. Flights to Hawaii from the mainland are generally pretty cheap, especially in the past few years. Although it isn’t the most inexpensive when you arrive, it is well worth it because you get the South Pacific feel with the comforts of America… and a shorter plane flight.
I particularly recommend Maui, perhaps my favorite places in the world, and the little visited island of Lanai. For golf lovers I’d recommend the Four Seasons at Lanai.
4. St. Helena
I visited St. Helena earlier this year and it blew my mind. It’s a trek to get there in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean but it’s a relatively cheap destination once you arrive. It’s very off-the-beaten path, but with great hiking, fascinating English mixed with island culture, good food and even the world's most remote golf course. The airport alone makes it worth a visit as they basically shaved down a mountain to make it possible. St. Helena is probably not on your short list but it should be on your bucket list.
5. Province of Laguna, the Philippines
I’ve traveled to 121 countries in the world but I’ll always be proud to say that I grew up here! The Philippines is already popular because of our white sand beaches in Palawan, Cebu or Boracay; the surfing in Siargao, the mountains in the north but Laguna Province is less well-known.
If you have a few days stopover in Manila, I’d recommend a visit to the Province of Laguna. It has hot springs as well as San Pablo City, also known as the City of Seven Lakes. My favorite lakes to visit are Pandin Lake and Yambo Lake.
I might be biased, but if you live in the Province of Laguna, or even visit, consider yourself blessed! You get to experience and enjoy the fresh air, the wonderful structures, great delicacies and warmth of the people in the province.
6. The Balkan Peninsula
We all think Europe is expensive but I beg to disagree. Traveling around Europe doesn’t need to cost you an arm, a leg and perhaps a kidney. If you want to experience Europe on a budget, I’d recommend exploring the Balkan Peninsula. Croatia is the most popular Balkan country and can be expensive so I’d recommend starting a trip around the Balkan Peninsula in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. From there you can cross the border and travel by bus to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I spent five days in Montenegro last year and I felt like it was never enough. We went on a boat tour to Perast, Porto Montenegro, Our Lady of the Rocks and wrapped up the trip by kayaking and paddle boarding on the beach nearby. Other fun activities include paragliding and diving.