The Top Affordable, International Travel Destinations of the Year

Sure, it would be nice to be able to blow a ton of cash on an extravagant trip this year. But the reality is most people don’t have thousands of dollars to spend eating at Michelin-starred restaurants in France or to cruise through the Amazon.

But, luckily for any and every travel enthusiast, 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel and 2018 is looking promising as well. The dollar is cruising along at historic highs — meaning your money will go much further in many destinations around the globe than in the recent past. And who doesn’t love have more money to spend?

Instead of just focusing on flight deals, a lot of agencies and travelers and finding the top destinations that will provide the most value and best experiences once on location. This strategy is quickly becoming the smart way to save.

Travel agency Journy takes a look at Japan for instance. “In the past few years, we’ve seen interest in Japan travel go WAY up. It’s our number-one most popular destination today,” says CEO Susan Ho. “Just five years ago, $1 only translated to 80 yen, whereas today $1 gets you about 110 yen — a whopping 37.5% more. That means that a 15,000 yen sushi omakase meal now costs $136 instead of $187, which is a huge difference.”

But even furthermore, according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall as 2017 comes to a close.

Between these two factors, there is no reason a global exploration shouldn’t be in your near future. And thankfully, your options are more or less endless if you are doing your homework.

Following are some fantastic destinations that are inexpensive, exciting and well worth the trip whether you’ve got a lot of dough or not.

​So, take note, print this out, and plug it on your fridge. One (or more) of these spots awaits you — we just know it.

Puerto Rico

Okay, you got us. Technically U.S. territory, but for most Americans, still untapped territory. Puerto Rico feels different because it is different, so it’s leading off our list, and for good reason. The immediate positives — you won’t need a passport or lose any money in a currency exchange since they are dollar users like you and I. Old San Juan is a blast for anybody who wants to feel whisked back in time and for those who don’t want to pay a premium to travel there. Ideal for a two or three-day getaway, there’s plenty to explore in the city (quite cheaply) although you’ll need to venture out of town for the best beaches. This is where the true value lies. Lastly, the best way to get deals here is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December).

Ecuador

Heading a bit farther south, we get to a land of contrasts, Ecuador. Each region is vastly different from the other, and you’ll also be surprised how inexpensive flights from the Southern U.S. are to the middle of the world (equator, hence Ecuador, thank us later). Natural beauty abounds from pristine beaches to towering volcanos to soothing hot springs and unlimited hiking and biking opportunities. There are probably few countries that boast the same variety. Food is inexpensive ($10 per day meal budget), folks are friendly, and one of the larger South American expat communities is here. What’s not to love?!

Bali

Bali is a bit farther and therefore airfare is typically more expensive, but once you’ve landed you’ll find everything is much less expensive than similar island paradises. Our advice is not to hoard your money however, rather spend what you would have on somewhere like Hawaii and Fiji and get some amazing top-of-the-line accommodations, meals and amenities in Bali. If you want to live high class on a middle-class income, Bali has the resorts, spas, restaurants and beaches all at your fingertips.

Mexico

Our neighbor to the south always awaits with open arms, and a great exchange rate doesn’t hurt either. The rate, $1 to every 20.69 Mexican pesos makes this destination one of the most affordable destinations out there. When plotting your adventure, locations like San Luis Potosí, Mazatlán or Puerto Escondido are real unique finds in this vast country. 4+-star hotel rooms can be found for roughly $50, and there is nothing but natural beauty and a unique culture on your daily agenda. But most important dear reader, you’ll probably never pay more than $2 for a beer. That’s the selling point right there! Kidding, but the frugal traveler that wants to experience deeply-ingrained culture can dive into the highly-buzzed about activities for much less than most would expect.

Albania

Europe is, well, Europe. France, Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, they’re nice, they’re lovely, they’re the cream of the crop. But the cream has risen considerably and the Balkans (Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina to name a few) are hot, hot, hot nowadays. Croatia is probably the priciest, and down the list a bit is Albania, considered by most to be the least expensive place to visit in Europe. But nestled on the Adriatic coastline, this sleepy European country has a ton to offer and being off the beaten path (for now) has kept the buzz relatively low which means little competition/crowds and low prices (we’ve mentioned that twice now). Albania’s small inns and quaint restaurants may be just what you need without breaking the bank.

Bolivia

A landlocked South American nation, Bolivia is not the easiest country to get to or get around once you’re there, but boy is it exciting! If you’ve ever felt the urge to stand on secluded salt flats as far as the eye can see, or take a dip in the world’s highest-elevation lake, you can effectively kill two birds with one stone in Bolivia. Food and accommodation prices are very reasonable, literally laughable in some cities, and it’s another one of those places in the world where you’ll be hard pressed to meet a native person you won’t like.

With all this talk of affordable travel, we’re setting our flight alerts as we speak. Where are you off to next?

Featured Tip

Don’t let your vacation days go to waste – make sure you travel! Only 23% of full-time employees use all of their days off each year, Forbes reports.