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Traveling abroad doesn’t have to require a fat savings account. Time your trip carefully so you avoid holiday airfares, and you can enjoy some of the world’s most unique and stunning destinations for less money than you might imagine. Choose places where the locals live modestly and you’ll be amazed by how far your dollars will stretch. Here are five of the finest destinations for bargain international travel:
Now peacefully building its reputation as a low-cost tourist destination, Nicaragua is still well off the beaten track for most travelers. Those folks are missing out on hiking stunning volcanic peaks, swimming in clear freshwater lakes, and visiting with locals over a beer at the corner open-air restaurant. Granada is a slow-moving and gracious colonial city, with a huge square filled with families, music and a sense of celebration. It’s easy to find English-speaking tour companies along the edges of the square that will take visitors through museums and cathedrals and out into organic plantations. You, too, can have the unforgettable experience of being startled by the bellows of a wild troop of howler monkeys!
Enjoy affordable winter sports in a fairy tale landscape in Slovenia. This small country offers superb skiing in the Alps at very modest prices, with pristine mountain lakes, castles and ancient churches to add atmosphere. Encompassing some of the most varied terrain in the world, Slovenia also boasts sunny beaches on the Adriatic Sea and incredible caves to explore. Its interesting capital city, Ljubljana, features music and art festivals, as well as botanical parks and cafes where you can relax and watch the world go by.
Recovering from its recent economic downturn, Portugal has never been more affordable. Lisbon, its capital, has a unique architectural character with many brilliant blue patterned tiles decorating the buildings. Portugal is famous for its wistful music, known as “fado,” drifting through the restaurants and the many pastel-colored public squares. Once a magnificent empire, Portugal retains a historic grandeur but combines it with a thriving young nightlife.
For your budget tropical island experience, consider Indonesia. This huge country is made up of more than 17,000 islands and a fascinating mix of people who speak more than 500 separate languages and dialects. Some of the world’s most extensive rainforests and unspoiled white sand beaches are located on these islands, and if you step outside the high-traffic tourist zones of Bali you can find your own quiet corner paradise for a relaxing price.
Georgia is well past the turbulence of establishing itself as a separate country and now turns a hopeful face toward the future. This small nation is still rooted strongly in its ancient traditions, and the natives pride themselves on their friendliness and hospitality to visitors. Georgia is the world’s birthplace of winemaking, and Georgians are proud to offer inexpensive full day tours from Tbilisi (the charming capital city) to a wine tasting and local feast out in a country town. Orthodox Christian cathedrals dating back to 400 AD are still standing, while around the next corner designer boutiques add modern flavor to this richly layered land.
With a bit of careful choosing and planning, the wonders of the world are wide open to the budget traveler!