BUDGET TRAVEL PHOTOS

PHOTOS: 11 Affordable Bucket List Adventures

Think dream trips to Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China are financially out of your reach? Think again. We've got the inside scoop on these and other super-affordable bucket list items—like hot air ballooning in Albuquerque and taking a jeep safari ride through the buffalo herds in Custer State Park—that are great for every budget.

  1. Be sure to visit this part of New Mexico during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a phenomenal festival held every year in early October that features thousands of colorful hot air balloons with participants from all over the world.

    (Bonnie Avonrude/Dreamstime)
  2. During your hot air balloon ride, you'll soar high above the city and come close to the rooftops of houses, buildings, trees, and ride over people stuck in traffic. Don't forget to bring your camera!

    (Tim Pleasant/Dreamstime)
  3. Rainbow Ryders operates out of Albuquerque and Phoenix, offering sunrise and sunset flights where you can watch the intricate process that takes place as the enormous balloon is inflated and set up by the team before taking off on your 3.5-hour epic adventure high above the city.

    (King Ho Yim/Dreamstime)
  4. One of the most popular bucket list spots on everyone's list is Machu Picchu, the mystical land once ruled by the ancient Inca tribes of Peru.

    (Kseniya Ragozina/Dreamstime)
  5. G Adventures is actually giving Budget Travel readers a special 30 percent discount off one of their most popular tours, Absolute Peru, a 21-day adventure that breaks down to about $110 per person per day.

    (Paop/Dreamstime)
  6. Another must-do bucket list item is making a pilgrimage to the Great Wall of China.

    (Brett Critchley/Dreamstime)
  7. There are some really great travel deals out there, packages that include airfare, hotels, and guided day-trips to the Great Wall of China from Beijing—if you know where to look.

    (Konstantin32/Dreamstime)
  8. Free camping and hiking opportunities are also available at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as are park ranger-led walking tours, but be sure to check the website for updates on volcanic activity in the park before you head out.

    (Gmborden/Dreamstime)
  9. Always stick to the marked paths and never try to get closer to the lava, no matter how great you think your photo might turn out. You're still on an active volcano, after all.

    (Martinmark/Dreamstime)
  10. About an hour's drive outside the park along Highway 130 in Puna is the entrance to Kalapana, a town that was completely covered by a 1990 lava flow. The hike ends at a gorgeous black sand beach (swimming is not permitted due to the proximity to the active volcano, Kilauea). The best part: both parking and hiking are free.

    (Courtesy Graeme Churchard/Flickr)
  11. While an Alaska vacation may seem pretty far away both geographically and financially, the Alaska Railroad is trying to make it easier to turn that dream trip into a reality.

    (Jacetan/Dreamstime)
  12. Spend a day checking out the wildlife of Denali National Park with Alaska Railroad's Just the Basics package, available June thru September.

    (Mircea Nicolescu/Dreamstime)
  13. A view of Horseshoe Lake in Alaska's Denali National Park.

    (Steven Prorak/Dreamstime)
  14. The world's largest coral reef definitely deserves a spot on our list. Imagine yourself snorkeling Australia's magnificent Great Barrier Reef.

    (Tanya Puntti/Dreamstime)
  15. Keep an eye out for airline sales to Australia that usually happen during the shoulder seasons (remember, if it's fall up here, it's spring down under), and once you snag the perfect flight, the rest is easy thanks to a great travel package by G Adventures, East Coast Encompassed: Sydney to Cairns.

    (Bin Zhou/Dreamstime)
  16. Is snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef on your travel bucket list?

    (Tanya Puntti/Dreamstime)
  17. Next time you're in South Dakota, don't miss Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours, a spectacularly intimate way to get up close and personal with Custer State Park's diverse wildlife—we drove right up to a grazing herd of bison, past fields of noisy prairie dogs, and ended the night with a traditional chuck wagon cookout.

    (Jim Parkin/Dreamstime)
  18. Custer State Park is one of the very few places on earth where you can actually get stuck in traffic because a herd of buffalo decided to cross the road, so keep those cameras handy!

    (Jim Parkin/Dreamstime)
  19. One of the best ways to really get out there and experience nature at its finest is by dog-sledding through the wide open wilderness of the Laurentians in Canada's Québec province, about a two-hour drive from Montréal.

    (Kaeli Conforti)
  20. At outfitters like Pourvoirie Mekoos in Mont-Laurier, you'll get to meet the dogs before you ride along with (or drive) the dog-sledding team through the Canadian wilderness.

    (Kaeli Conforti)
  21. Travel to Cuba has become more accessible to Americans and though it is at least right now a bit on the pricy side to visit this mysterious island, there are budget-friendly (and legal!) options out there that are definitely worth the splurge.

    (Ottorodriguez/Dreamstime)
  22. Friendly Planet Travel offers several packages that include chartered flights from Miami, all transfers and transportation within the country, accommodations, extensive cultural people-to-people experiences with the locals, guided tours, and best of all, all the visas and paperwork necessary to visit Cuba.

    (D'lumen/Dreamstime )
  23. We want to know: would you ever travel to Cuba?

    (Diego Vito Cervo/Dreamstime )
  24. Americans first encountered zorbing—the art of rolling and bouncing down a hill while inside a giant, hamster-wheel-like plastic ball contraption—when teams competing on The Amazing Race a few years ago faced it on TV as one of their big challenges.

    (murdocke23/Flickr)
  25. An adrenaline junkie's dream come true, Zorbing has been popular since 1997 and is definitely one of those "only in New Zealand" types of experiences to write home about.

    (Pwozza/Dreamstime)
  26. While regular zip lining may already give you a heckuva rush, there's nothing quite like zip lining and completing an aerial obstacle course over a park full of crocodiles, alligators, and hundreds of other reptiles at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm's Crocodile Crossing.

    (Kaeli Conforti)
  27. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is located just down the road from the scenic St. Augustine Lighthouse. This is the view from the top.

    (Donnie Shackleford/Dreamstime)

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