Go Off The Beaten Path, Discount Diva Tip #2

Rasnov Fortress, Romania

Your Discount Diva is at it again with more helpful tips on how to stretch that baht, lira, ruble, krona, what have you. Last post recap: Flexibility reigns supreme, and timing is everything. And timing really is everything. Which leads me to my next savings suggestion: Go off-the-beaten-path… before everyone else (and their dog) considers it.

Why Off-the-Beaten-Path?

Now, everyone wants to witness the beauty of Paris’s Eiffel Tower or the magnificence of Rome’s Coliseum. (And everyone should see these masterpieces once in their lifetime.) But you can cash in some incredible travel deals by setting your sights on up-and-coming locations and countries in recovery. And it will still be the trip of a lifetime.

The truth is, long after concern is warranted, many individuals are fearful of recovering countries. Sometimes, the misfortune of a contained area is applied to a country as a whole. Even neighboring countries are grouped in. Natural disaster victims and war-ravaged areas are deeply affected by dramatic drops in tourism dollars. And they’re begging for your visit to aid in their recovery.

Examples, please?

After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government proposed the Fly to Japan! project. It offered 10,000 free flights to tourists, later cancelled for budgetary reasons. Nevertheless, the tourism sector was still offering substantial discounts, in a country that’s typically very pricey. At that time, short-term travel 50 miles outside the Fukushima evacuation zone was deemed safe by both the Japanese and American governments. Southern Japan was unaffected by the disaster altogether. Too risky?

New Zealand’s Christchurch earthquake delivered similarly devastating economic blows. Shortly after, a significant dip in flight costs occurred. Flights from Los Angeles to Auckland went from ~$1,600 r/t to less than $1,000. And included free stopovers in the Cook Islands and Fiji. Still too risky?

Consider the Yugoslavian disintegration. The War in Bosnia and Herzegovina officially ended in 1995. Twenty years later, southeast Europe has largely rebuilt its infrastructure and is one of the hottest up-and-coming tourist destinations. For the time being, it’s still very inexpensive!

I’m not suggesting you should tour the Fukushima facility itself, sleep in an unstable hotel building, or go for a nighttime hike on the undefined Kosovo border; I’m simply suggesting to be open, be informed, be smart, and have fun.

What’s Off-the-Beaten-Path for This Year?

Which locales should I be on the lookout for this year? That’s easy. A plethora of online resources are available at the tips of your fingers! Most reputable travel sources I’ve encountered report their up-and-coming country and city recommendations annually.

Budget Travel, filled with great discount ideas, recommends Cambodia for 2015. Rough Guides reports that Portugal and Northern Ireland are the places to be. My fav Lonely Planet has already released their 2016 Bluelist and suggests Latvia and Fiji, and whaddya know, Japan! National Geographic, not to be outdone, lists Romania and Peru.

Other common value sightings for 2015 included Colombia and Istanbul. I visited both Romania and Istanbul this year and had amazing experiences in both at incredibly low prices. (“Incredibly low,” like, three-course restaurant meals for two, with alcoholic beverages, for $20 including tip in Romania.)

Being Safe in Less-Explored Countries

How can I make sure I’m safe in up-and-coming countries? Realistically, you can never ensure your safety at all times anywhere. (I was literally robbed at a Pier One once.) But say you’re considering one of these gems and you [naturally] want to ensure your safety and the safety of your family. Every country has a certain degree of petty crime. And it’s important to be aware of common scams and pitfalls.

Most of the travel sites I’ve listed have specific sections devoted to just that. For example, Montenegro on Lonely Planet, and on Rough Guides. For greater safety concerns, visit the U.S. Department of State site listing current travel warnings. For health concerns, stop by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; this site will advise you of necessary or suggested vaccinations and will announce health warnings.

So, there you have it. Next time you start vacation planning, consider the less considered, and land some great savings and great memories. And don’t forget: be open, be informed, be smart, and have fun!