The traditional attractions of the U.S., and overrun beaches of Mexico and Cuba are among the go-to choices for cost-conscious Canadian travellers, according to Statistics Canada, but that may change for 2017.
While some may think staying close to home will save them big bucks, that’s not necessarily the case, says travel expert Claire Newell.
“Cost has always been one of the biggest factors for travellers in deciding where they want to travel,” Newell says. “Millennials want to see the world but are on a limited budget because they are typically students or just starting their careers. Boomers want to see places on their bucket list while they are still able. And everyone in between wants to stretch their travel dollar as far as possible.”
According to Newell, globetrotters can travel halfway across the world to destinations in South Asia, Central America and North Africa — including lodging for a week and round-trip airfare — for less than $2,000.
“The more you spend doesn’t mean the more fun you will have on vacation,” she says. “Travel is subjective. For some people the best trips are about what they experienced, who they travelled with, what they ate; but for others it’s about where they stayed or the service they received.”
So in the spirit of spring break, Newell reveals her top four budget-friendly destinations that will keep any traveller’s wallet in check.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Package deal on TravelBestBets.com: For dates between Apr. 11 and May 30
Prices: Vancouver $699, Calgary $899, Toronto $1,099 + tax
Includes: Round-trip airfare, seven nights in a one-bedroom apartment
Check out: Hang Son Doong Cave. According to Touropia, the cave is about 3 million years old and is one of the largest in the world. It is sometimes used as a camp site, however guided tours are the best way to see the landmark.
Package deal on TravelBestBets.com: For dates between Apr. 16 to 26
Prices: Toronto $899, Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver $999 + tax
Includes: Round-trip airfare, seven nights in a 3.5-star hotel
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What Newell says: “Morocco is stunning. It has two coasts: one on the Atlantic Ocean and the other on the Mediterranean Sea. There are also gorgeous mountains and a very famous desert — the Sahara. In the bustling cities of Fez and Marrakesh you’ll find markets and beautiful little palaces.”
Check out: Merzouga, a small village in southeastern Morocco near the Algerian border. Touropia says the village is on the tourist route because it’s close to Erg Chebbi, a spread of sand dunes that reach up to 150 metres high. You can ride a camel through the dunes, and enjoy an evening of dinner and music in Berber tents.
Package deal on TravelBestBets.com: For dates between Apr. 3 to 30
Prices: Vancouver $1,049, Calgary and Edmonton $1,449 + tax, Toronto $1,510 including tax
Includes: Round-trip airfare, seven nights at a 3-star hotel, daily breakfast
What Newell says: “Probably best known for Mount Everest and the Himalayas, Nepal has eight of the 10 highest mountains in the world. But it isn’t just for serious mountain climbers. There are lots of small treks for travellers of any fitness level. In Kathmandu you can visit one of the most famous Tibetan Buddhist temples.”
Check out: If heights aren’t your thing, try to Chitwan National Park. Touropia calls the site one of the best wildlife-viewing destinations in Asia. It’s a sanctuary from many rare and endangered species like the Bengal tiger and one-horned rhinoceros. Other animals you can spot include elephants, sloth bears and leopards. See the park by either signing up for a jeep tour, canoe ride or elephant ride.
Package deal on TravelBestBets.com: On May 13
Prices: Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver $1,599 + tax
Includes: Round-trip airfare, 12-day tour, five meals, sightseeing and airport pick-up
What Newell says: “In my opinion, Nicaragua gets overlooked. It’s incredibly affordable with stunning landscapes of rain forest, mountains and volcanoes. The country, like Morocco, has two coasts on different oceans: one on the Pacific and the other with white sand beaches on the Caribbean Sea. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in South America and has the world’s largest volcanic island inside a lake.”
Check out: The Isla de Ometepe is a lush area that boasts clean soil, spacious beaches and wildlife, and is known for the two twin peaks of the Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes that stand tall above the area. According to Lonely Planet, not many travellers make it out there, making it an ideal place if you’re really looking to relax. The site was a favourite of Mark Twain, who wrote about Isla de Ometepe in his book Travels with Mr. Brown.