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9 Popular Travel Destinations on Sale in 2024

Want to figure out where the international travel bargains will be this year? Want to know which popular travel destinations on sale have become more of a deal for this coming year?

Well you’ve come to the right place. As the author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations, I keep an eye on the trends constantly and watch what’s happening with exchange rates. It looks like 2024 is going to be another good year to be a traveling American, especially if the U.S. Congress figures out how to marginalize the attention-grabbing fringe crazies so we can get back to paying our country’s bills on time without any partisan arguing.

bargain destinations to travel this year

Despite the dark years we’ve lived through with a worldwide pandemic earlier this decade, the U.S. economy has been on a roll and I can’t remember a time in my long life when we’ve had a “Goldilocks economy” as good as we have as we roll into 2o24. Unemployment is the lowest it has been since I was born in the 1960s and inflation is easing back down to where it usually sits as an average.

Despite the political obstructionism by some, the strong U.S. dollar party has mostly kept rolling, so when you’re ready to cross borders again, you’ll find a favorable climate for the greenback in most locations. The only bargain destination that has seen a sizable dollar decline has been the one I live in, unfortunately: Mexico. We went from 20 to the dollar to 17 in the space of a year, so good thing I spent half of last year traveling elsewhere. This won’t last of course. Most economists are predicting we’ll at least get back to 18 in the coming year and the country is still a great value. 

This list of popular travel destinations on sale hasn’t changed a whole lot from last year. If you’re looking for quick answers without the details, the ones I’m featuring for 2024 are Argentina, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt, India & Nepal, Thailand, Bulgaria, South Africa, and an unexpected one from a historic standpoint: Japan

The dollar often stays strong because it’s a reserve currency and the one much international business is carried out in, but also because the worldwide economic recovery is not distributed equally among nations. If our problems look bad, it’s usually worse somewhere else. Except for all the gun shootings, many countries would look at the U.S. problems and say, “You want to trade?” Politically the USA is a mess, but economically the story is still a good one. That means that traveling can be cheaper than staying home. 

You don’t have to go to some obscure, unknown travel destination to find a great value, however. Some of the most popular countries in the world are often on the discount sale rack. If you’ve been putting off a trip to a place you’ve dreamed about, this might be the time to start checking flight prices and book that hotel or apartment rental to lock in a good deal.

Here’s a rundown then on where to get the most bang for your American buck in the coming year–though in most cases the deals are good if you’re earning euros as well. For the moment anyway, the euro is back in its traditional trading range as I write this instead of being at par like it was for a while in 2022.

Check out these travel destinations on sale for some potential vacation or backpacking plans

Argentina Still in Financial Crisis Mode

I’ll start with where I put my miles and my money in March of ’22, when I spent three weeks in a country that felt like the best travel value in the world—and still does. If we had one of those Star Trek teleporters to use, I would have gone back there several times since.

Argentina has been in and out of favor for bargain-seeking travelers many times since I first went there in the early ’00s. It continually lurches from crisis to crisis and just when a new administration makes headway on cleaning up the mess left by the last one, they get defeated by a populist making empty promises. Things could change as a newly elected radical president has let the currency float more freely and he wants to dollarize the economy to bring down some of the world’s highest inflation. I doubt he can accomplish that in one year though, so for 2024 it should still be one of the top travel destinations on sale.

The declining Argentine peso keeps tumbling downward in value and you have to carry around stacks of cash, literally. At least now you won’t pay double for using a credit card since the gap has closed between the official rate and the real one on the street. In dollar terms, prices stay surprisingly stable, so see this post I did on  travel prices in Argentina.

eating well in Buenos Aires, Argentina

$20 for two with wine and tip

The Argentine peso was worth 17 to the dollar during my visit in 2017. A few years later it was 60 to the dollar. When I visited last year the blue rate had passed 200, a year ago 371. As I write this at the beginning of 2024, you now get 805 Argentina pesos to the dollar at a bank and more than 1,000 at the unofficial “blue rate” on the street. For the second year in a row, their currency declined the most of any in the world. 

Yes there’s significant inflation if you’re thinking in pesos, but when you buy what the locals are buying–wine, steak dinners, bus rides, subway tickets–you’re going to find some great bargains. Hostel prices have come down a bit there as well during that stretch. Hotels are still priced in dollars, but it’s one of the world’s best values for apartment rentals.

We got a terrific apartment in a great neighborhood when we were there, with a Jacuzzi on a large outdoor deck, and we paid around $60 per night after the fees. If you’re not splurging like we were, you can find places for half that, especially outside of the capital. 

Colombia is Still a Great Travel Bargain

The Colombian peso gained 20% against the greenback this year, but it had slid down for so long that the correction just brought it back to where it was at the beginning of 2022. Once again, when I pulled up Numbeo for research on my post on the cheapest places to live abroad, it showed that Colombia is now cheaper than Mexico. It’s actually on par with Ecuador now too. 

travel destinations on sale - Colombia

Once again that’s IF you are thinking in dollar or euro terms. The Colombian peso has declined quite a bit against both currencies, in a long slide that started in 2013. A decade ago, a greenback would get you around 1,800 pesos. Now the rate is bouncing between 3,900 and 4,000 to the dollar.  

That has brought down the price of nearly everything except what’s imported, including labor costs that impact so much of what travelers spend money on. Colombia felt like a great bargain when I was there in Medellin and Bogota. 

On top of that, Colombia has great air connectivity. It’s the hub of Avianca and is served by most of the carriers in the Americas, including low-frills Spirit Air. I often see round-trip flights to Bogota or Cartagena for $350 or less from the USA. There’s another budget airline there called Wingo I flew that serves Mexico, so if you’re combining those two countries (or live here like I do), you’ve got bargain flights on that one and Volaris to choose from.

Unease in Turkey Means Bargains for Travelers

While I’m nearly always touting the advantages of being an opportunistic traveler, I’ve been leery about going to Turkey since I last visited. The authoritarian, religious-leaning government scares me and as a journalist, I feel like I would have a target on my back at all times. There are hundreds of thousands of innocent people in jails because they spoke out against the Putin-wannabe in power. (Oddly enough, the biggest travel writers organization, SATW, decided to have its annual convention in Turkey in 2024, despite the country turning into a dictatorship where press freedom has been squashed. I’ll be skipping that one I think…)

I really thought that after all the pain the Turkish people have been through the past few years that they would finally boot out the leader that half the country hates with a passion, but he somehow managed to get more than 50% of the vote and held on. Predictably, the currency took a nosedive after that and it lost another 36% of its value in 2023. This is one ugly exchange rate chart for the Turkish lira over the past year, looking a lot like the one from a year before: 

Turkish lira decline

 

 

If you can put the political issues aside, Turkey will be one of the world’s best travel values again this year. It’s got more things to see and do just in Istanbul than most countries can list, then you’ve got Greek ruins, Cappadoccia,  ski resorts, beaches, Anatolian historic sites, and on and on. Plus this is one of the world’s greatest food destinations.

As with Argentina, this currency slide comes with major inflation, but it has significantly lowered the cost of everything from admissions to taxis to shoeshines if you’ve got euros or dollars you’re cashing in. 

Enjoying Egypt for Less

About six years ago, Egypt floated its currency freely to secure a bailout from the IMF and the currency immediately went to the level most traders thought it was worth: half. So almost overnight the Egyptian pound went from 9 to the dollar to 18. Against all odds it eventually leveled out below that level though, so for a while, the gamble seemed to have worked.

Last year the currency took a tumble again though at the beginning of the year and shot from 24 to 30 to the dollar. Once again it has leveled off though, so expect to get 30 or 31 Egyptian pounds if it holds at this level. 

Egypt has been one of The World’s Cheapest Destinations since the very first edition of that book came out and it was a bargain before that when I visited in the mid-1990s. It has never stopped being a travel bargain for a whole lot of reasons, including occasional bouts of terrorist violence, human rights abuses, and political woes. If you’re the type of traveler who is not put off by a bit of bad news, however, Egypt is one of the world’s best values, year after year. 

The site Numbeo.com has Egypt pegged as one of the cheapest places in the world to rent an apartment or house, with an average of $466 for a three-bedroom apartment in the city of Cairo, less than that in any other location. You can see that reflected in the hotel prices too, where you can commonly find a four-star place for under $50 per night, a decent budget place for $15. If you were a digital nomad, you could just rent a hotel long-term and still be living large for half or less what you used to spend in your home country. 

bargain travel destinations - Egypt

 

Meals for a few dollars, a taxi ride for two bucks, and $1 men’s haircuts are just a few of the traveler prices you’ll find in Egypt. And you get to see some of the world’s greatest antiquities for a song. 

Spend Time in India (and Nepal) for Travel Destinations on Sale

India’s currency only declined a little last year, but since the start of this decade it has gone from 70 to 83 to the dollar. Since this country has been featured in every edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations going back to 2002, that ensures that prices remain a bargain for travelers. In a country where a single traveler could get by on $20 a day before as a backpacker, you can now get even more for your budget. 

India’s problems are well-known and persistent, with a huge population that still gets by on a couple dollars a day. Political and economic challenges are always going to be a drag on the currency, even if the wealthy are doing better all the time and the middle class is expanding. It’s just hard for a rising tide to lift all boats when there are a billion boats to lift. 

If you’re trying to stretch a small amount of money for the longest period, book a ticket to India and explore a vast nation of extremes.

Then head over to Nepal: their currency chart looks almost exactly the same and in some aspects—especially lodging—Nepal is even cheaper.

nepal travel

Head into the mountains and prices go down even more. On many of the trekking routes you’ll pay a few bucks a night for lodging, then a few bucks more for each meal. Just be advised that Nepal recently changed its rules and banned independent trekking. We’re not sure that will stick in areas where it’s super-easy to navigate, like on the Annapurna Circuit Trek, but that’s the official word. 

Travel Deals in Thailand

I was just in Thailand at the end of 2022, my umpteenth time there, and I can say from experience that this is still one of the best travel values in the world. Take a look at this post on what a trip to Thailand will cost when you go there. And I wasn’t even in the cheap spots: I only visited Bangkok, Phuket, and Ko Lanta on this month-long jaunt. 

The exchange rate usually doesn’t fluctuate wildly in Thailand but for the past few years it has been on the high side of the historic range. If that holds, figure on getting somewhere between 33 and 36 to the dollar. Before the pandemic, Thailand went on a building spree to accommodate the huge influx of Chinese travelers as they became the world leader in tourism numbers. Those numbers have not returned to that lofty level yet, so it’s a buyer’s market for hotels, especially in Bangkok, one of the world’s best city bargains for lodging. It has some of the cheapest 5-star hotels on the planet. 

Bangkok thailand travel bargain

One factor offsetting some of this though is the cost of getting into the country to start with if you’re coming from North America. It’s much cheaper to get there from Europe. Plus they seem to change their entry rules every month or two. Once you’ve made it past immigration though, you’ll eat well, see lots of beauty, and interact with an interesting culture. 

Find Cheap Flights to Thailand

Travel Joy in Bulgaria and the Balkans

I like Bulgaria so much that I’ve been there three times in two years. I enjoyed spring skiing in late March for great prices and once again rented a bargain apartment there for close to a month in the summer. I also took the scenic train from Bansko to Plovdiv for around six bucks.

I also got back to Albania, this time hitting some beach areas and a cool Ottoman era mountain town. It’s not that there’s any kind of currency drop in the Balkans that’s causing me to include this region again. It’s just that these just happen to be two of the cheapest places to travel in Europe

The ski trip was in the towns of Bansko and Borovets. These are two of the cheapest places to ski in the world. I can’t bring myself to spend $250+ to go up the lifts in Colorado for a single day. I’d rather spend 1/5 that and have cheap meals and drinks in the lodge and village while I’m at it. 

My apartment for a month in Bansko in the summer was a shade more than 300 euros. For a whole month. A full one-bedroom with a great kitchen, balcony, one and a half baths, walking distance to everything. If we had gotten an Airbnb for two weeks instead, it would have been about the same price or a little less. A three-hour bus to there from Sofia is about 10 euros, a local bottle of wine is a few dollars. Most of the seasonal fruit and vegetable choices will be around one euro per kilo. 

Bulgaria bargain travel destination

Albania can be even cheaper, especially when it’s time to grab a coffee or a meal. Plus they have some great beaches. And if you’re American, you can stick around for a year if you’d like, with no Schengen Zone worries. Here’s a post on living and travel prices in Albania that I updated after my visit. 

In the same region, Montenegro and Bosnia are also terrific values, places that feel like travel destinations on sale, especially by European standards. But they won’t stay that way forever. Word is getting out.

South Africa is a Bargain Again

South Africa travel prices

I have trouble writing about South Africa on this Cheapest Destinations Blog because their currency chart often looks like a bouncing basketball. The country will be a deal one year, be expensive the next, then come back down to Earth again after that. 

We’re on the higher end of that pattern right now, with the dollar getting you 18.3 rand at the moment. At times it breaks 19 and you’ll notice it in the declining costs of everything from taxis to street food. To give you some comparisons, at the moment Cape Town is 24% cheaper than Mexico City, 20% cheaper than Budapest, and about 17% more expensive than Vietnam according to Numbeo

South Africa is the most developed country in Africa, with good infrastructure and a solid range of hotel choices for every budget, including hostels. You’ve got beaches, wildlife, wineries, and lots more to explore. 

The drawback for getting here is that South Africa is a long way from almost anywhere. It’s going to cost you a chunk of change for the flights no matter what unless you can cash in airline points. If you’re planning a trip to the bottom of Africa, this would be a good time to get a new airline credit card from United, JetBlue, or Air Canada since they can get you there on miles via partner South African Airways.  Otherwise:

Search flight prices here.

A Rare Opportunity for Japan

You won’t see me mentioning Japan very often because it has traditionally been one of the costliest cities to visit in the world. It was known as the land of $20 watermelons and $40 shots of whiskey in the past, but that has changed in recent years as the yen has declined. As my Nomadico partner Kevin Kelly said in a recent posting, “Despite its reputation, Japan can be one of the cheaper developed places to travel in. Currently their exchange rate per dollar is the highest it has been in many decades.”

That’s not hyperbole either. Here’s the currency chart for the past decade for how many yen you get for one U.S. dollar:  

travel to Japan this year

Even in the decade before that, the yen generally traded between 100 and 110 most of the time. Now it is often flirting with 140. This doesn’t mean that Japan is competing with Southeast Asia on prices. It just means that a country that was historically out of reach for many budget travelers is now one that people making normal wages can afford. 

After I did three trips around the world, friends and relatives who didn’t ask the predictable, “What was your favorite place?” question would sometimes ask which places were the most interesting or unusual. That question was easier to answer: India and Japan. The former is maddening though, while the latter is fascinating without being annoying. Everything just works in Japan and everyone is exceedingly polite and helpful. The culture is fascinating and there’s a long, distinct history on display. It’s no museum though: Tokyo is, in many ways, the most advanced city in the world for technology, trends, and urban planning. 

I’m not a lover of the food like some people are, but if that’s you, go now while everything is reasonably priced and eat your way around the country! This would also be a terrific year to explore Kyoto, hike the Kumana Kodo, or go skiing up north. 

So there you have it, 9 travel destinations on sale that include a few combos that are neightbors. How about you? What bargain destination are you headed to this year?

 

Steve

Thursday 20th of June 2024

Just coming back from a trip with others in Japan, I can tell you firsthand this is spot on (and South Korea is cheaper too). So many great deals even compared to being there 10 years ago. I just stumbled on your website with some research, and I like the additional travel ideas and your compiled research. Thank you.