Since we don’t have kids, we’ve become interested in travel recently, although our jobs and other financial commitments seem to be getting in the way, but I foresee at least one foreign vacation for us this year (we now have friends in Germany and Kenya to visit and stay with!).
But we also like travel bargains and USA Today published an article “10 great places for travel bargains in 2011” that really stuck out at me when just scanning through it because some of the countries mentioned. The author suggests, and I think correctly, that countries that are in the news for being “in trouble” for either safety or more often financial problems are often the best places to visit, as long as you take heed of travel advisories and warnings.
A few of the countries that struck me as intriguing are Ireland, Vietnam, Greece and Ethiopia.
For example, I’ve visited Ireland twice (once with a friend and once for our honeymoon) back when the “Celtic Tiger” was just beginning to roar. In 2002, our Dollar was better than the Euro, but in 2003 the tides turned and it cost us 20 cents extra on the dollar. Now that the Tiger is whimpering in its litter box, B&B’s and hotels and every other tourist trap are pushing discounts and promotions that were unthinkable just a year or two ago. I highly recommend visiting Ireland, especially if you’re a travel newbie because it’s so similar to the U.S., except for the currency and the driving on the other side of the road thing.
As for Vietnam, I recently highlighted an article from a friend called “Wanna be a millionaire? Move to Vietnam” in which I highlight the major price differences between the U.S. and Vietnam for things like food, transportation, hostels and cellphone service. And if the food from the D.C. Vietnamese restaurants is any hint of how delicious the food is in Vietnam, then I’m all in!
Can anyone really question why we want to visit Greece? Granted, my college roommate was first-generation Greek and spent high school in Greece so he had very fond memories to share with me which helped bring alive the idea of visiting the Mediterranean (Italy included). Along with Ireland, Greece is in a financial crisis after a boom and has extra hotel capacity for tourists and is hurting for visitors.
And lastly, Ethiopia. It has ancient ruins, amazing food (seriously, trust me) and such happy people, given their general living conditions. Plus, the dollar can go a loooooonnngggg way there versus most other countries. The advisory is to join tours rather than going out on your own, which I would do anyway in such a foreign country (to us). Being in D.C., we’ve been exposed to Ethiopian culture and food by visiting over a dozen different restaurants (including in Pittsburgh and San Francisco) in the last few years. It’s my dream one day to visit Ethiopia, so perhaps we can get there briefly if we visit our Kenya friends.
What’s your travel bargain tip? Any country that others wouldn’t normally visit that you have found to be safe, affordable, fun and educational?