Having a book out on the world’s cheapest destinations makes me a bit opinionated about which countries offer the best bang for your budget. While those options stay relatively constant, there are fluctuations from year to year, or even in the space of a month sometimes. The formulas guiding economics and spending are always receiving new variables, plus exchange rates bounce up and down, sometimes dramatically.
The grandfather of budget travel, Arthur Frommer, has a great post on his blog based on a speech he just gave at a travel show. Despite the dollar rising a fair bit in Europe, he says For This Year’s Top Travel Bargains You’ll Need to Bypass Europe. I can’t argue with that, so let’s check out his list of where the best deals are right now.
1) Las Vegas – I was just out there in December and definitely agree with him on that one. As I wrote in this Uptake Lodging blog post a while back, new hotels are still opening in Las Vegas and the city has added 6,850 new rooms since the financial meltdown happened in October of ’08. Combine that with an overall slump in visitors and getting a deal on a room there is one of the few sure bets in town. If you go mid-week, you can really splash out in a swanky hotel suite for the price of a Hampton Inn or Courtyard in other cities.
2) Central America – I’m a broken record on this one: for independent travelers (or those taking advantage of #7 below), the best place to stretch your dollars.
3) Orlando – Ugh, but if you have kids you should go now while the getting is good. These slump-driven deals won’t last forever.
4) Mexico - I go here more than anywhere and have been loving the prices this past year. Arthur says the visitor numbers are still low “…because of the lingering reluctance of many Americans to risk what they discern as drug-related-violence and swine-flu possibilities. In actual fact, the violence is almost entirely concentrated in border cities hundreds of miles from the Caribbean or Pacific resorts of Mexico, and from its capital city and colonial highlights; and swine flu is no longer a threat.”
5) China – The country that occupies the majority of places on any “most polluted cities” list in not in my future anytime soon, but if it’s in yours Arthur says there are excellent deals on package tours that include airfare. With the language barrier being what it is outside the main cities, this is a country where I’d consider it worthwhile to have a guide around all the time anyway.
6) Cruises – I wouldn’t pay any price personally, but if it’s your thing, there are plenty of cruise deals out there.
7) Small Group Adventure Tours – These are tours for people who are independent-minded, but like the camaraderie and ease of planning you can get with the likes of GAP Adventures, Intrepid, Djoser, Adventure Life, and others of that ilk. The prices are great, partly because the tours stay in independent guesthouses and small hotels—the kind of places you would probably stay if you were doing it on your own. But they get you from place to place more easily and you’ve got a handler/guide taking care of all the details and getting you access to villages. (My writer buddy Marie Javins has done Perceptive Travel stories on GAP trips to Antarctica and Bolivia.)
See the full original post here.