In the age of Airbnb, couch-surfing, house-sitting, and long-distance friendships over social media, the world has opened up to budget-conscious travelers in a completely new way. It’s a great time to indulge your travel desires, and there’s no shortage of opportunities for adventurers who want to see the world without breaking the bank.
So, you’re brand new to traveling and feeling a little intimidated by all the possibilities. Where should your first trip be? How can you afford it? Which historical and culturally relevant sites are must-sees, and which aren’t worth the trip? Here’s a roundup of four popular destinations that are easy choices for an amateur adventurer without a wealth of background knowledge.
Chicago is renowned worldwide for its bold and striking architecture, and boasts one of the tallest skyscrapers in North America: Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. Although there are pockets of counterculture scattered throughout the city, including the hip Wicker Park, most of the city’s tourist appeal lies in its architectural and aesthetic history — the majority of which is centralized in one easy-to-navigate downtown area.
The Art Institute of Chicago, featuring a collection of impressionist art and the curious Thorne Miniature Rooms exhibit, is a must-see for any art enthusiast. Nearby Millennium Park is a beautiful garden space where you can wander around and find abstract sculptures hidden within the lush greenery.
Just north of the city are a variety of small, intimate communities where you can rent an Airbnb and stay with friendly suburban hosts who know the area. These small towns have a lot to offer by way of artistic expression, and a dance center in Lincolnshire, IL offers wonderful lessons at affordable rates.
A small, cozy town with massive historical influence, Lansing is accessible due to its central location right in the heart of the Midwest. Detroit is certainly more famous, both for its industrialism and the origins of Motown, but Lansing is the capital of Michigan. The Capitol Building situated in the middle of Lansing is an architectural wonder dating back to the 1870s.
Novice travelers tend to like Lansing due to its small-town atmosphere and close proximity to nature, including the Rose Lake State Wildlife Research Area just slightly northeast of the city center. If it’s a light, fun, and stress-free weekend getaway you’re looking for, why not explore Lansing, MI?
You might think that an exotic vacation to Hawaii would be overwhelming for a timid traveler. On the contrary, Honolulu’s luxurious waterfront neighborhood of Waikiki makes it easy for continental Americans to adapt to the breezy, carefree lifestyle on the island of Oahu.
Reef exhibits, fine dining, top-notch nightlife, and designer shops make this a dream vacation for anyone venturing offshore for the first time, and the locals are friendly and inviting enough to make you feel at home from the first moment you plant your toes in the white sand. This beachside community boasts glamorous, five-star resorts alongside intimate boutique hotels. And surf lessons in Waikiki guarantee an unforgettable trip.
There are not many southern towns as cute as Franklin. Just a few minutes south of Nashville, Franklin is Music City USA’s slightly wealthier and more sophisticated younger sibling. Plenty of country music celebrities (including Keith Urban) make their home in this quiet town, where the paparazzi are nonexistent and locals mingle with the elite on a regular basis.
History buffs will appreciate Franklin’s Civil War-era architecture and allegedly haunted cemeteries, while photographers will love to capture the quaint boutiques and restaurants that line the sidewalks of downtown Franklin. The modern-day answer to the general store, White’s Mercantile, is an Instagram-famous lifestyle shop, while art galleries, clothing boutiques, and eateries abound.