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What You Were Reading in a Lousy Year for Travel


lousy year for travel

What articles on cheap travel places, budget travel tips, and living abroad were you checking out the past 12 months?

In a normal year, the most popular posts on this Cheapest Destinations Blog are a healthy mix of traveling well on a budget, lessons learned from traveling internationally, and updates on living abroad. There was nothing healthy about this past year for people in most countries though and this was the worst year for travel since the dawn of widespread flight availability.

To say this was a lousy year for travel is like saying Trump was a lousy president—a massive understatement that only hints at the long-lasting damage we will keep experiencing.

On the sidebar of this Cheapest Destinations Blog (at the bottom on mobile), you can always see the most popular posts for the last three months. They don’t change that much from quarter to quarter and are often evergreen posts that have been up for years. But in a year when most people weren’t moving around very much, it’s interesting to see what really did well from March through the end of the year–the time of lockdowns and closed borders.

It’s always fun to pull up the stats at the end of the year to see which new posts generated the most interest, but this time they almost all fell under three categories: moving abroad, domestic travel, and how to get out of your own town safely in the future.

Here are the articles that really resonated in a lousy year for travel, the ones that came out on top in 2020 and got lots of attention.

The Most Popular Articles on Moving Abroad

I kicked off the year with a flurry of travel, with wintry trips to Quebec City, NYC, and Idaho, then mostly stayed put after the pandemic started raging. I had to cancel trips to multiple continents. So I wasn’t traveling or writing as much about travel.

My biggest accomplishment in a year of restricted travel was to research, write, and publish a 359-page book about moving abroad. The second edition of A Better Life for Half the Price came out in November. I interviewed more than 80 expats and shared my findings along the way with some updated posts.

best living abroad book

For specific countries, I published new articles on the cost of living in Malaysia, what expats are spending in Romania, the top retirement destination of Panama, and what it costs to live in India—one of the best values in the world and a 10-year visa available for some of us. Although we can’t visit Vietnam yet, we got the scoop on the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in a country that has shown what success in fighting a Covid virus actually looks like.

I also published some general advice articles inspired by the book research: recent findings, general knowledge, and some answers to frequent reader questions.

Where to Find a Cheap Beach House in Mexico

Mailbox Rental and a Permanent Adress When Moving Abroad

Which Cheap Countries Have the Fastest Internet Speeds?

How People Make Money When Living Abroad 

Is Global Real Estate More Risky Than Home?

Each year I do some kind of update on where to live for less on this planet, but this year’s rundown was a bit different. It’s the cheapest places to live in the world that are actually open. It has already received more than 2,000 page views in its first week, so I imagine it will be one of my post popular posts in 2021.

living abroad in Mexico

Most-read Articles About Traveling Close to Home

As 2020 became the year of the road trip, of isolated villa rentals, and traveling by RV, I pivoted away from international travel and focused more on other ways to get a change of scenery. For much of the year, it was about exploring close to home.

Ironically though, my most popular travel post of the year was about flying on American Airlines during a pandemic. With a chaotic boarding process and no blocking of middle seats, that was probably the last American flight I’ll be taking until we’re all vaccinated. Delta Airlines has emerged as the alternative white knight trying to keep us healthy in the air and flying with them felt 10 times safer. They’ll be my preferred carrier for a while when I have to get somewhere I can’t reach overland.

As expected, road travel and safety did well, with these new posts getting a lot of action.

Safe Summer Travel in the USA

Finding Some Space by Visting the U.S. State Parks

How to Find Cheap Car Rental Deals

An Extra Layer of Travel Safety on Your Phone

Best Places to Visit on a Montana Road Trip

Idaho Ski Resorts Are a Bargain in the USA

safe skiing for cheap in Idaho

The Future of Travel and How We Will Get There

Travel is not going to look the same in 2021 as it did in 2019 and it will probably be a couple of years before we’re back to normal. In some ways that’s a good thing as the air has gotten a little cleaner, the most crowded tourism spots got a break from the throngs of people, and the eco-disaster giant cruise ships sat docked and idle. On the downside though, hundreds of millions of tourism jobs disappeared, companies went out of business, and fragile areas that depended on eco-tourism are dealing with poachers and land-clearing again.

Hopefully we can strike a better balance in the future between tourism and the environment, between economics and sustainability as things ramp back up again. A few thoughts of mine on where we’re probably headed got a lot of attention.

How Will We Travel in 2021?

Make a Bold Travel Resolution

Get Free Flights and Hotels Later by Banking Points Now

free travel later from banking points now

I also highlighted some notable books about the world worth reading, 9 cocktails that will take you traveling, and a few international dishes that you can make at home to take your tastebuds on a trip.

That’s it for my rundown on a lousy year for travel. Hopefully by the second half of the coming year, it will be back to our regularly scheduled programming!

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Jessie B.

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

There are so many stupid and selfish people out there being careless about infecting others. So I'm figuring I still won't be able to go anywhere international for the first six months. I'm thinking about hitting the buy button for the fall though. There are some amazing flight and package deals out there right now that are SO tempting! With no-penalty changes (for now), I'm probably going to lock something in.


Thursday 31st of December 2020

I arrived in Vietnam on March 7th, 10 days later the country was closed so I had it all to myself but longer than I wanted since I was stuck there for 5 instead of 3 months. So that canceled my SE Asia tour. Now I am at my third location in Mexico and very content. Some people are just too paranoid, it is just mother nature with the help of the Chinese Communist government thining down this over populated planet. Roll the dice, live your life, the odds of dying if you did contract the virus are very low, and hey next year there will probably be a new virus what will you do then?

Tim Leffel

Thursday 31st of December 2020

You've got to be an incredibly callous person to write off 1.8 million deaths as a "very low" chance of dying. Those people had spouses, children, families, and friends. "Live your life" is what has made it so much worse in countries like the USA compared to Vietnam, Australia, or even China. Viruses love selfish people who only care about themselves and won't take precautions for the common good.