Where can you go with just $500? If you’re leaving from New York’s JFK airport, you’d be surprised how many destinations fit the bill. This is one of the least expensive airports to fly out of in the United States, particularly as budget airlines gain in popularity. Below are some examples of round-trip flights (departing July 1 and returning July 8) out of JFK for less than $500, according to a January 2017 search on Skyscanner.
Boston, Massachusetts $97
Who knows why trains are more expensive than flights in America’s Northeast, but they are. You can save as much as $100 by hopping on a plane to Bean Town. Walk the Freedom Trail, rub elbows with the brightest minds at Harvard, or cheer on the Red Sox.
Toronto, Canada $286
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a tight budget restricts you to domestic flights. There’s a lot to see in the United States, but you can find plenty of international bargains as well. Head to Toronto for a jaunt up the CN Tower or a tooth-rattling hockey game. Niagara Falls is also within day trip distance.
Mexico City, Mexico $325
You can reach beach party-central Cancun for less than $500 too, but Mexico City is an even less expensive destination for those itching to head South of the Border. Skip the all-inclusive resorts and spring break shenanigans in favor of getting lost among the ruins of Tenochtitlan or the city’s many colorful markets.
Havana, Cuba $364
The recent lift on travel restrictions for Americans has Cuba calling many a Yank’s name. Sweetening the pot are the easily affordable flights to Havana. Wander the colorful buildings of the Old Town as old-fashioned Chevys cruise the streets. Once the sun sets, grab a mojito and get ready to salsa the night away.
London, England $415
Europe has long been a bastion of budget airlines, and many of these are starting to offer service in major U.S. cities. The result? You can hop across the pond and back for under $500. London’s breadth of free museums and these newly affordable flights make the United Kingdom a surprisingly budget friendly destination for savvy travelers.
San Francisco, California $436
There’s no shortage to the number of exciting and diverse destinations within the United States you can cheaply reach from New York. Far from being limited to the East Coast, you can get as far as San Francisco with less than $500. Rent a bicycle to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the view from the Marin County Headlands, or spend the day touring Alcatraz Island.
Nassau, Bahamas $451
There are ample Caribbean destinations in easy and affordable reach of the eastern United States, but the Bahamas have a reputation for being one of the simplest countries to visit in the region. Though not advisable for reentry, you can technically go to the Bahamas without your passport as a U.S. citizen. See if you can spot any celebrities in the glitterati-favored Exumas, or kayak through the sparsley populated Andros area.
Guayaquil, Ecuador $489
South America is one of the most expensive continents to fly in and out of, but with a little luck you can pull off a $500 round trip flight. Consider heading to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and gateway to the Galapagos Islands. Keep your budget under control by seeking out a pick-up cruise, instead of pre-booking a luxury boat.