11 Bucket List-worthy International Vacations That Are Surprisingly Affordable (Video)
There’s an old piece of travel wisdom that may no longer be true. Once, it was common knowledge that a trip closer to home was always cheaper than traveling far away. But as the world gets more interconnected, the price tag of a trip abroad might actually surprise you — in a good way.
In an effort to encourage travel to lesser-visited (and less expensive!) places outside of our borders, we compiled a list of international destinations that won’t break the bank. If you know the perfect times to book, a trip to Vietnam might not be as much of a pipe dream as you had previously told your budget.
With the help of analysts from Kayak, we’ve determined the month of the year that your dollar will go the furthest, based on median airfare and nightly hotel rates. Usually, this is because of off-season travel, which could actually provide a more authentic travel experience than having to jostle your way through overcrowded sites.
Whether you’re looking at vacationing as far away as Australia or as close as Toronto, the actual cost of a well-thought-out itinerary abroad could surprise you.
Count your vacation days. You may actually be able to take more than you previously intended.
It’s just a short jump north of the border to a city filled with culture, food and plenty to do. Often mistaken for the Canadian capital, Toronto is sometimes known as “Hollywood North” for its celebrity residents. If you’re looking for food, head to Little Italy, one of several Chinatowns or Little Portugal for a gastronomic jaunt around the world. Catch a hockey game, sample some craft beers and do your best “Sorry” Canadian impression if you bump into someone on the street.
Visit in November when a flight will likely only cost you around $206, according to Kayak. The average rate for a hotel room is $211 per night.
The region of Alsace is a cult favorite among French travelers. Although it doesn’t attract nearly as many visitors as Paris, earlier this year, the French voted their favorite village as Kaysersberg, located in the region. Kaysersberg exemplifies many of the characteristics that have endeared Alsace to French travelers. It’s got architecture that dates back to the 13th century, world-renowned wine caves and hearty Alsatian cuisine.
Fly to Strasbourg in January for an average price of $659 round-trip, according to Kayak. A hotel room should only cost around $191 per night.
Armenia is operating under a new, more liberal government — which is enlivening the country with fresh energy. Check out the new, growing luxury hotel scene in Erevan, the capital. But no trip to Armenia is complete without stepping into the gorgeous and rugged countryside. Khor Virap is a monastery that dates back more than 2,500 years. The mountainside views and the ancient architecture make for a breathtaking combo. Make a stop at Garni Gorge, a Roman temple located on top of a perilous gorge.
A flight to Erevan will cost about $864 during the low season of March. You can expect to find a steal for hotels, with the average costing only $95 per night, according to Kayak.
The capital of Queensland on Australia’s east coast is very quickly cementing itself as Australia’s capital of design. Drop by the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, (QAGOMA) or the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) to get a sense of Asian-Pacific art. Go shopping in the Fortitude Valley district, where you’ll be able to pick up pieces from local (and international) designers. And, of course, because it’s Australia, it’s easy to get in touch with the local wildlife. Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, just about 20 minutes from the city, to hang out with more than 130 of the emblematic critters.
The cheapest month to book a flight to Brisbane is February, according to Kayak. You can expect to pay around $955 for flights and the median hotel price in the city is $122.
It’s been 600 years since the discovery of Madeira — and the Portuguese archipelago is still astounding visitors with its natural beauty. Trek along miles of rugged coast to see the Atlantic at its most paradisiacal. The capital of Funchal is quickly becoming home to a number of new hotels, offering glamour, glitz and a good, stiff cocktail. Speaking of drinks — the island became famous for Madeira, its 18th-century fortified wine. Get in the local spirit and sample a glass before leaving.
Come February, the price of a round-trip flight to Funchal drops down to a median of $639, according to Kayak. A hotel will likely set you back $101 per night.
Tunisian tourism is on the up-and-up following the terrorist attacks of 2015. In an effort to draw back tourists, Tunisians are noting the good value of a vacation to the country. You won’t be able to get such stunning Mediterranean beach access (or explore really historic developments) for such a low price tag as in Tunisia.
The cheapest month to travel to Tunisia is February, when a round-trip flight will cost you around $597, according to Kayak. You can expect to pay about $181 per night for a hotel room around this time.
Budapest gets the majority of Hungary’s visitors for good reason. But if you want to delve deeper into Hungarian culture, drive 18 miles west of the capital to Etyek, often called the “vineyards of Budapest.” This area has been producing grapes since the 18th century and has been likened to Champagne for its excellence of crisp wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The town is also a pilgrimage for film buffs, with huge movies and shows shooting there. "Blade Runner 2049," "The Martian" and "The Borgias" all set up in the town.
Etyek is about a half-hour’s drive outside of Budapest. Come January, you’ll be able to nab a flight from the U.S. for about $632. The average hotel will only cost about $92 per night.
The Grenadines were the last of the British colonies in the Caribbean to gain their independence (only in 1979). It could be why the dozens of islands have lagged behind other big players in drawing tourists. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less gorgeous. In fact, just the opposite. You’ll likely still find empty beaches and be able to hike up dormant volcanoes without having to jostle through crowds. And with a smattering of new hotels opening, now is the time to visit the Grenadines. Quick. A new airport opened on the island of St. Vincent (with direct flights from New York City) earlier this year. It’s easier than ever to get there, and pretty soon everyone else is going to find out about it.
A round-trip flight to the capital of Kingstown in the cheapest month (January) will set you back $698. The average hotel will cost $239 per night.
Panama City, Panama
Panama may be known for passing through the Panama Canal, but now visitors have more reason than ever to stay in the capital city. Meander through the old colonial quarter where spanish-style houses line cobblestone streets. Eat your way through Panamanian cuisine, including fine dining at Laborotorio Madrigal, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Andres Madrigal. And then top it all off with a tour of the city’s growing cocktail scene. The rainforest is easily accessible from Panama City, if you’re looking for a true jungle trek after time in the urban jungle.
Visit Panama City in October to take advantage of the best deals. A flight will cost you $558 round-trip and a hotel is likely to cost around $111 per night.
Last year, Guatemala experienced the deadliest volcano explosion in more than a century, killing at least 25 people and injuring at least 300. The country is rebounding and welcoming back tourists. Upon arrival, you’ll be able to wander through ancient Mayan ruins, hike the mountains and jungles or explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site colonial streets in Antigua.
Book a trip for September when it will be cheapest to travel to Guatemala City. The median flight price is $413 while the average hotel will only set you back $99 per night.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Travel + Leisure readers just named it the best city in the world for good reason. Hoi An is one of those charming towns that you didn’t think could possibly exist anymore. The “ancient town” has buildings that date back to the 15th century, with pagodas, shrines and tea houses. Strangers will ask you where you’re from and be genuine when they give you directions to their favorite banh mi stand. Sure, they may also take you to their cousin’s custom silk shop — but you should probably pick up a tailored shirt while you’re in town anyway. It’s a perfect souvenir.
Thanks to an increase in flights from the U.S., you can nab a round-trip to Da Nang Airpot (about a 45-minute drive from Hoi An) for only $817 come November. A hotel will only cost around $111 per night.