If you are planning a major trip in 2018, here are some epic destinations that will be surprisingly affordable. Check your passport, pack your bags, and save.
Argentina is an exciting, versatile country with something to offer for all tastes and travellers. “From wine country in Mendoza to Buenos Aires—which has been called ‘the Paris of South America’—to Patagonia’s gorgeous peaks and valleys, this is a country that’s bouncing back as a top destination for tourism,” says Diana Plazas, VP of branding, marketing, and digital for Marriott International in the Caribbean and Latin America. What’s especially attractive at this point in time is the exchange rate, which at around 17 Argentine pesos to the U.S. dollar, represents a bargain for the U.S. traveller; your money will go a very long way here. “Argentina lifted its VAT tax on hotel stays for international visitors, which represents a savings of 21 percent—that leaves you with more to spend at alluring tango shows, museums, vintage shops, and the country’s famous parrillas for authentic Argentinean barbecue,” says Plazas. You’ll be surprised at how affordable a steak dinner (with wine!) can be. Don’t miss Iguazu falls, one of world’s the most incredible waterfalls.
With the hospitality of Italy, the gorgeous mountains of Austria, and gourmet delicacies of neighboring Istria, Slovenia has it all for a fraction of the price. “While much of Southern Europe can come with tons of tourists and a too high price tag, you can have a five-star trip on a three-star budget in Slovenia,” says Collette Stohler, who runs the travel website, Roamaroo. “You can have the elegance and gourmet delicacies of the Mediterranean at an Eastern European price. The best part is—you can visit the capital of Ljubljana, the beautiful lake town of Bled, Piran Beach on the Adriatic, and the Goriska Brda wine region all within two hours of each other.” Slovenia also happens to be on the list of places you need to go in 2018—how fortuitous is that?
You can get great value when booking a trip to any of Colombia’s top cities. The destination has seen a significant tourism development boom in the past couple of years, with travelers exploring cities like Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota—which has a thriving art scene—and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to appreciate its beauty. “The cobble-stoned city center is very walkable, with colonial-era attractions and landmarks, and vibrant murals that are representative of the local art culture,” says Plazas. “While the culinary scene in Bogota is also taking off, there are plenty of local eateries serving delicious, authentic cuisine. A bandeja paisa is a must!” Airlines have begun adding more direct flights from the U.S. to these cities, which in turn leads to major hotel growth. “As a travel company we see a lot of potential here, and currently have 12 hotels open across eight different brands—think Aloft, Sheraton, Four Points, and W, to name a few—to accommodate travellers at all price points. Not only are the travellers who visit getting a bargain, but they are also becoming part of Colombia’s growth as a highly sophisticated tourism hub in South America, and that’s very exciting
As more under-the-radar countries begin to experience higher levels of tourism, we anticipate prices in those destinations to increase, which is why now is the time to visit beautiful Estonia,” says Biseto. “Castles, palaces, and a beautiful coastline await visitors to this small Baltic country. Accommodations start at about $40 per night for a three-star hotel and meals for one day will run visitors about $18. Tourists should take advantage of the free walking tours and check museums as there are frequently free admission days throughout the year.”
Known for UNESCO World Heritage cities and Machu Picchu, Peru is a fantastic option for those travelling on a shoestring budget. “Food is delicious and cheap, with three meals costing less than $10 per day. Peru offers stunning beaches, mountains, canyons, and rivers making this country an incredible destination for budget travellers,” says Bisesto. As for a fabulous place to stay, consider the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, a 16th century convent turned five-star hotel, located just two blocks from Cusco’s Plaza Mayor.
Sharing a border with Greece and a ferry ride away from Italy is the Adriatic country known as Albania. “Home to many castles, jaw-dropping coastlines, and the Albanian Alps, this under-the-radar country is great for shoestring travellers. Three-star accommodations start from $17 per night, hearty meals will set you back just a few dollars, and affordable public transportation options are readily available. Enjoy hiking tours, national parks, fortresses galore, and more in this inexpensive country,” says Bisesto. Just make sure to avoid these stressful vacation mistakes.
A fantastic backpacking destination, Guatemala deserves to be on every budget traveller’s radar. “Filled with stunning architecture, Mayan ruins, colonial towns, volcanoes, and more, this small Central American country is known for its natural beauty and warm hospitality. Keen travellers can find three-star accommodations and three meals for as little as $25 per day––much cheaper than nearby countries such as Costa Rica or Panama,” says Bisesto. Check out Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel, a 19-bungalow property built in the middle of jungle bliss; it’s a fantastic place to stay, recommends Bisesto. She also likes the luxury boutique hotel Casa Palopo. If you want to stay within the states, these are the best island vacations in the U.S.