VACATION IDEAS

30 Vacations Budget Travel Readers Will Never Forget

Where was your first real vacation? We put this question to readers and we were touched by the responses. Of course, national parks—and theme parks—made the list, but so did far-flung destinations like Montenegro and the Philippines. And sometimes, the journey mattered as much as the destination.

  1. "A cross-country trip in our family's brand new '53 Mercury. We did Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, The Redwoods, The Painted Desert, Yellowstone. I remember a bear standing on his hind feet with his front paws leaning on the car, and my father having a fit because they were scratching the paint. My mother opened the window an inch and threw out a cookie to make him go away. It worked." —Barbara Traveler

    (Courtesy John Vetterli/Flickr)
  2. "The first vacation I can remember was going whale watching in Maui, Hawaii. The whales came so close that we had to back the boat up because the Captain was worried we were breaking the marine protection laws. Coolest thing I've ever seen." —April Conforti

    (Courtesy Smart Destinations/Flickr)
  3. "My parents packed the car and we were off to Yellowstone National Park. Seeing a forest and all the wildlife for the first time was very exciting for me. I remember my mom buying me a multi-colored beaded belt that had my name beaded through it, and I wore it all the time till it no longer fit me." —Pamela Henry

    (Courtesy leserks/myBudgetTravel)
  4. "I had always wanted to go to Walt Disney World as a kid. I took my daughter and her best friend when they were in sixth grade. We visited every park more than once, went to Typhoon Lagoon and Downtown Disney. My daughter is 20 years old now and we want to go back. You are only a kid once, but you can be a kid at heart forever."  —Rachel Morrow

    (Courtesy mmiwig/myBudgetTravel)
  5. "My best friend and I went to Hawaii. We had a ball! The gorgeous, tropical setting took my breath away. Flowers, koi ponds, mai tais, hula dancers and leis, a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial...the list goes on. It has been almost 30 years since then, and I still want to go back to Hawaii!" —Jane Herron

    (Courtesy Butch25/myBudgetTravel)
  6. "New York City with my current boyfriend. We did every "touristy" thing you could imagine and must have walked 20 miles in the four days we were there. We love traveling together and must have gone on 20 vacations together since, but that first one stands out in my mind so much because it made me realize how much I love to travel—especially with him." —Lauren Groh

    (Courtesy hhendren/myBudgetTravel)
  7. "I was five years old. Mom and Dad took us to Hong Kong Ocean Park from a tiny island in the Philippines to see dolphins and killer whales after doodling our entire bedroom with graffiti fishes using crayola." —Anna Lynn Racho

    (Courtesy xiquinhosilva/Flickr)
  8. "A cruise to Bermuda from New York. It was my first cruise, and the first vacation that I paid for myself. I loved Bermuda, and docking in St. George. It was so beautiful." —Dawn Ferrigno

    (Courtesy bfurbush/myBudgetTravel)
  9. "Camping in my family's tent trailer in the mountains of western Washington state. The smell of vinyl, walks by the river, sausage on the camping stove, marshmallow in my hair, and laughing with my parents. Wouldn't trade any of that." —Josh Cleveland

    (Courtesy webstjb/myBudgetTravel)
  10. "When stationed in Japan, the best vacation we took as a family was to Singapore. The country was beautiful and the culture just amazing." —Brianna Bly

    (Courtesy atlpilot36/myBudgetTravel)
  11. "Age five, to the Adriatic Sea and the city of Budva in Montenegro. For those who like stunning natural beauty, ranging from beautiful sandy and rocky beaches to wild mountain peaks, forests and mighty rivers, Montenegro is a hidden gem of Europe." —Aleksandar Vasiljevic

    (Courtesy lihis/Flickr)
  12. "After studying abroad, I backpacked on my own through New Zealand's North Island, did some tours, an adventure course, and explored some seriously tiny towns. Everyone was so nice and the hostels were relatively inexpensive. And it was beautiful. Absolutely, unbelievably, indescribably beautiful." —Emily Hopper

    (Courtesy QuiltSalad/Flickr)
  13. "I remember hiking to the top of Seorak Mountain [in South Korea] when I was seven, in the rain! That fired up my wanderlust and adventure spirit." —@RunawayJuno via Twitter.

    (Courtesy seafaringwoman/Flickr)
  14. "The first vacation that I can remember was to Cape Cod. Absolutely loved the beach and watching the colors of the sky and water as the sun came up. (This was one of the few times I willingly got up before dawn.) Also have fond memories of the Portugese bakeries nearby." —Robin Shwedo

    (Courtesy SusanHalay/myBudgetTravel)
  15. "Buenos Aires: Fell in love with the people, steak, Tango & Latin American Spanish." —@thetravelmanuel via Twitter.

    (Courtesy jconroy6/myBudgetTravel)
  16. "My parents drove my sister and me to Florida when I was four or five. I enjoyed the newness of travel and got excited by the small stuff—finding the ice machine, swimming in the motel pool, and cheering each time we drove into a new state. It was definitely the journey and not the destination, as the saying goes." —Tara Engels McGovern

    (Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel)
  17. "My very first ‪vacation was a belated honeymoon to Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis) in June, 1997." —@jen_zeman via Twitter.

    (Courtesy roger4336/Flickr)
  18. "Costa Rica, seeing a wild sloth walking on the ground." —Sorcha Sills

    (Courtesy EdwardBell/myBudgetTravel)
  19. "First vacation on my own was to Perm, Russia, when I was 20 during study abroad. I loved meeting family I had never met before, being COMPLETELY immersed in a foreign language and not speaking English, not being distracted by constant texts or Facebook, exploring the city, eating new foods, and traveling through the countryside." —Rachel Weaver

    (Courtesy Marywhotravels/Flickr)
  20. "A cross-country skiing trip to Norway with my family when I was three. I remember the view over my dad's shoulder as I rode in the backpack while he skiied all day, the trail stretching out in front of us across a meadow into the woods, the wind in my face as we went down the little hills, and the smell of the trees when we got to the woods." —Kirstin Cattell

    (Courtesy Christian Theede/Flickr)
  21. "My first vacation that I remember was to the mountains in North Carolina when I was probably just out of sixth grade. My sister, stepsisters, and I went kayaking and hiking." —Lauren Burg

    (Courtesy theakshay/Flickr)
  22. "I remember visiting my grandparents in Los Angeles and going to Knotts Berry Farm. Back then it was a Western park. I remember panning for gold, walking in the crooked house and posing for pictures sitting in the covered wagon. We bought souvenir raccoon tails and a toy gun for my brother. My grandmother loved the fried chicken at their restaurant." —Carol Landry

    (Courtesy AngryJulieMonday/Flickr)
  23. "I was four and we took our first PanAm flight from New York to Miami. It was so cool. I adored the stewardesses—they were not flight attendants—and I got my wings! It's also where I got my bug for wanderlusting around the world." —Wanderlust Women Travel

    (Courtesy Peace4ever/myBudgetTravel)
  24. "Prince Edward Island, playing in the sand, visiting Green Gables...it was like a dream land I never wanted to leave." —Darrie-Ann Pugh Richard

    (Courtesy msprague/Flickr)
  25. "I remember we went to New Mexico when I was about eight or nine, and we found this place called Bottomless Lakes. There were paddleboats to rent, a pool, and pony rides. I loved that this place was out there in the middle of nowhere in a canyon. No crowds. No time frame that day." —Gina Cotton

    (Courtesy Realgeorge /myBudgetTravel)
  26. "There was a long line for dinner at Cinderella's Castle; being a rambunctious and outgoing child, I made friends with two Korean tourists, who signed my autograph book in Korean and spent the wait telling me stories. Cinderella herself came out to apologize for our wait. It was one of the many truly "magical" moments we've had at Walt Disney World." —Meg Mitchem

    (Courtesy mmiwig/myBudgetTravel)
  27. "The Danube Delta in Romania. It was so great to see all the wonderful birds and flowers, to fish and swim, and travel everywhere by boat." —Oana Harrison

    (Courtesy anka@happyhangaround/Flickr)
  28. "My first vacation was to Germany with my mum. I wasn't even born yet, still baking in the oven, and I remember nothing about it, but I've been a life long passionate traveler ever since!" —Anita Ziegner

    (Courtesy Akwinelvr/myBudgetTravel)
  29. "Ragbrai [bike ride across Iowa]. I was five. And it was hot and hilly! This was our family vacation ten years in a row." —Susan Hauser

    (Courtesy John Edwards 2008/Flickr)
  30. "My very first vacation was when I was ten and we rented a holiday chalet in Great Yarmouth [in the U.K]. I thought we were living large." —@fionayoungbrown via Twitter.

    (Courtesy spencer77/Flickr)

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