The new year has just started and most of us are already musing about where we want to travel in the upcoming months. Annual prognostications by several travel agencies predict that tourists will flock to destinations across the world. However, in a barely recovering economy, money may still be tight for many of us. This doesn’t mean you can’t explore the world, though. If your travel budget is small, but your wanderlust is big, check out the ten best value travel destinations.
Here are the 10 Best Value Travel Destinations:
The Indian rupee plummeted over the past year, losing 20% percent of its value. This means that the dollar is comparatively strong and has a lot more buying power, making traveling through India quite affordable. While several major international hotel chains are building in the country (Intercontinental will open 16; Hyatt will add 24 in the next couple of years; Hilton has plans for nine), business travel has slowed down, driving prices down for leisure travelers. Yet, traveling to India from the US takes planning so consider booking air-inclusive vacation packages (e.g. to Goa) to save money on airfare. If you prefer to travel more “off the beaten track,” look into Karnata’s coast or inland temple town Hampi, which offer more affordable lodging and food.
It’s no secret that Greece has had a very difficult time. Harsh austerity measures, soaring unemployment and partly violent demonstrations have made international news in the past few years. This is particularly tough for a country that thrives on tourism. For decades, Greece has been a prime travel destination, with its ancient ruins, fantastic food, and stunning islands. Due to recent events, though, the number of tourists has declined steadily. Therefore, the industry has lowered prices significantly in an effort to woo them back. This means not only can you visit Greece in 2014 at a great value, but also you won’t have to put up with overcrowded sights.
Palm Springs in California is a fantastic travel destination, especially for younger people. The town offers scenic desert fauna, chic design hotels, and a bubbling restaurant and nightlife scene. A number of new hotels and major renovations will bring competition, and therefore, low rates. Palm Springs is also easily accessible by car, train, bus or plane at a considerably low cost. The city has been reinventing itself for the past years and its profile has risen considerably due to the immense popularity of the Coachella Music Festival, which is being held annually in the area. Palm Springs is certainly one of the “hottest” travel destinations for 2014.
While South America always has been a popular place for travelers, Ecuador has been a little bit more under the radar in comparison to destinations like Mexico or Brazil. But Ecuador really wants you: the country reportedly increased its advertising budget for 2014 by 73%. Ecuador may be an especially attractive destination in 2014 due to the World Cup and the Olympic Games, when millions of tourists will flock to Brazil. You can already get flights from Miami to Quito for $399, but if you want an even better deal, purchase an all-inclusive package.
Another Latin American country made the list, Nicaragua. Traveling to Nicaragua is considerably cheaper than to its Central American neighbor Costa Rica. Nicaragua is less “touristy” and more considered to be more authentic. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful country that offers numerous attractions, from impressive Volcán Concepción to picturesque Río San Juan. It’s a great place for people who love outdoor activities. Nicaragua is one of the cheapest places in the Caribbean for beach living and diving, and you can actually live on $20 a day there.
The Jersey Shore
The Jersey Shore might have gained a questionable reputation throughout the past years due to the eponymous reality TV show, but it should definitely be on your radar for 2014. After superstorm Sandy in 2012, which tragically destroyed large parts of the Jersey Shore, the region has been lowering prices drastically to attract tourists again. Travelzoo, which tracks and evaluates travel deals, has reported 45% year-over-year savings. A slow summer season has sparked aggressive deals that will probably last well into 2014.
Eastern European cities like Prague or Warsaw are known to draw large crowds of international tourists. Yet, Bulgarian towns like Plovdiv, Varna or its capital Sofia are still quite underrated. Whereas Varna, located on the Black Sea Riviera, can actually be pretty pricey (and packed) during the summer, the other cities are very affordable travel destinations. Transportation, lodging (look for private rooms that are advertised via “Zimmer frei” signs) and museums are reasonably priced. The most famous site in Bulgaria, the Rila Monastery, is actually free and even offers simple rooms for pilgrims.
This country by the Atlantic coast might not be as popular as Spain, France or Italy, but it’s one of the top 2014 travel destinations in Europe. For one, Portugal’s rugged shores are a paradise for surfers. Moreover, the Algarve offers some of the cheapest options for a summer family holiday. You can get excellent deals for all-inclusive packages all year long. Lastly, Lisbon is one of the most charming cities in Europe, with its location on the Atlantic coast, its world-renowned coffee (“bica”) and sweet treats (e.g. the “pastel de nata”), and its unique architecture.
Palawan is THE top travel destination in the Philippines. Crystal-clear water, endless beaches, jungle rivers, and limestone cliffs make this tropical spot one of a kind. The Philippines are a generally pretty affordable country for travelers, making Palawan a fantastic great-value pick for Asia aficionados. The island offers stunning attractions like the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Bacuit Archipelago. You may also venture to the Calamian Islands, which inspired Alex Garland to write The Beach. However, avoid the monsoon season from May to October.
Our last pick is Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa. This is a particularly attractive destination for the history-inclined. If you follow the country’s Historic Route, you get to see the Lake Tana monasteries, the Blue Nile Falls, the rock-hewn wonders of Lalibela, among other landmarks. While lodging and food in Ethiopia are inexpensive, transportation can be pricey, especially if you rent a vehicle / hire a driver or join an organized tour (which you will need to do in order to explore the country). Still, this will be one of your most rewarding travel experiences.
Think ahead about which month and week(s) would work best with your schedule and start your planning for your travel destinations. Use one of the many online travel websites or go to the individual countries’ or cities’ websites for travel ideas. With so many interesting, affordable options, you can take advantage of the best value travel destinations and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
Author Sandra Mills is a freelance health, career, and travel writer. She enjoys writing articles that help people live better and happier lives. You can follow her on Google+.