Tim Leffel, author of the “The World’s Cheapest Destinations: 21 Countries Where Your Money is Worth a Fortune,” states that when there is trouble in an area, tourists tend to stay away from an entire region. There are usually good deals to be had. In the years I have been involved with travel, I have found the same to be true.
Here are a few of those areas as reported in USA TODAY. Mexico has had problems with the drug traffickers for some years with gun battles occurring in the streets in some of the popular tourist areas. This translates into great deals in hotel and resort pricing. Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco are but three of the destinations deals may be had. Cancun would be my pick because of its location on the Mexican Caribbean and non-stop flights.
Nepal, anyone? Here, in the high mountain range of Mount Everest, tourists may enjoy tours from Kathmandu to include whitewater rafting trips at a charge of less than $50 a day. The country has recently experienced political problems, so the tourists are staying away. But, you don’t have to.
You can fly into Kathmandu from Bangkok. Nepal is most interesting and remains not crowded with tourists.
Indonesia has been a traveler’s dream for many years. Bali is here and well worth the time to travel there to enjoy the beautiful hotels and resorts along with the outstanding landscape of this tropical paradise. You will find beaches, mountains and culture unlike any other in the world. This is one beautiful island with friendly natives waiting to assist you. Be sure to catch a folkloric show one evening while there.
Honduras is considered by many to be a bargain vacation spot. There was political unrest in 2009 and many tourists have not returned since. If you stay away from Roatan, diving prices can be as little as $30 per hour. Here also are Mayan ruins, which are most interesting.
Vietnam still offers bargains. You may not be interested because of the long fought battles and loss of American lives several decades ago, but many ex-service men are venturing back to see what the country is like today. You will find low cost places to overnight as well as luxury hotels. Many tourists report this to be a fascinating destination. So far, I have not ventured here. But you may wish to give it a look.
Greece is always popular with the tourists. It has so much to offer. Attractive islands, interesting people and a millennia of history. It is reported that Greece is hurting for business and offers many discounts. Check out the tour prices, the island cruises and resort vacation destinations.
Ireland has been in the financial news for many months now. It needs your tourist dollars. It added hotel rooms in the last few years and now needs to fill them. The people of Ireland will welcome you as one of their own and you will leave with warmth in your heart.
Hungary, the Eastern European nation, has often more charm than its Western counterparts. If you avoid costly Budapest and head for the more outlying areas such as the wine country you will find it easy on the wallet and most enjoyable.
In the good ol’ USA you can find travel deals in Las Vegas and Orlando. You can find the deals on the Web staying away from the major holiday periods and peak travel times.
How about a Panama Canal cruise? I personally like this route because it offers some relaxing sea days as well as the fascinating 6-hour transit of the Canal. Holland America Line can accommodate you on a 14-day vacation departing San Diego Oct. 28, Nov. 25 and Dec. 23 in the Statendam. The ship carries only 1,250 passengers in country club comfort. You end the cruise in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and can fly home from there. Your ports of call would be Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Panama City and Cartagena, then on to Florida.
Or, you may wish to consider Holland America Lines 30-day Circle Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas Islands operating roundtrip from San Diego and calling at: Honolulu, Hilo, Lahaina, Fanning Island, Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Moorea, Papeete and Nuku Hiva and returning to San Diego. The ship is the Westerdam and departs Sept. 29. I was on the Westerdam with the family in 2009 and found it to be a wonderful experience. Be sure to book a veranda stateroom. Call Holland America Line at: 1-877-724-5424 or visit www.hollandamerica.com.
Maybe a train trip is for you. You can take a private streamliner train through the Canadian Rockies with Glacier National Park thrown in for good measure. The trip is eight days and departs Seattle June 24, July 22, August 19, and Sept. 16. You ride in two private rail cars tacked on to Amtrak and running alongside Puget Sound, and across the Cascades rolling over the Burlington Northern Railroad. The trip includes luxurious Grouse Mountain Lodge at Whitefish, Mont., Glacier National Park, then entering Canada and a stay at the Prince of Wales Lodge at Waterton Lake, one of the most photographed sites in North America. You will have four overnights in Banff to explore all the famous sights in and around this region and then be transferred to Calgary airport for your flight home.
The two private cars consist of private Pullman rooms as well as an inviting lounge and diner. The chef will be for the tour group only and the service will be very special. Fares begin at $2,595 plus. Phone 1-800-323-5893.
Tauck Tours is offering a series of American Journeys. Departing New Orleans Oct. 5 Ken Burns will welcome you to the hometown of jazz for a five-day celebration of the past, present and future of the jazz music.
Your tour odyssey begins at the elegant Ritz-Carlton New Orleans with a lecture on the history of jazz by ranger Bruce “sunpie” Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots who will entertain you during the open bar cocktail reception. Then, it’s on to famed Arnaud’s in the French Quarter, for a welcome dinner and more jazz while you dine. On the second day, tour the city with a focus on jazz traditions. You will visit museums and other historic landmarks as well as Bourbon Street and the other famous locations only known to New Orleans.
Next day visit the epicenter of jazz, Preservation Hall, a jazz lunch at the Court of the Two Sisters and at night a performance by pianist Ellis Marsalis. There will also be some free time to roam about to make your own discoveries.
On day 4, more jazz along with a tour of the sights of Hurricane Katrina with a visit to the Backstreet Cultural Museum and St. Augustine Catholic Church. There will be a farewell dinner cruise on the Steamboat Natchez with music by the Dukes of Dixieland and Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans.
The last day offers a goodbye breakfast at your hotel and transfers to the airport. You can contact Tauck Tours at 1-800-468-2825.
Luxury cruise line Silversea is offering up to 60 percent savings on select cruises this year. You must book early, so check them out on the Web at www. silversea.com and order a brochure by calling 1-877-238-4600. Their four ships cruise the world and are all smaller than most and offer fantastic service and cuisine. All rooms are in fact suites. The fares include many, many extras.
How about a little fun at home? You can experience horseback rides from a ranch just outside Strawberry located at 10444 Fossil Creek Road. Phone (928) 595-1384 or visit the Web at www.paysontrailrides.com. Rancher Rick Slightam has 35 years experience with horses and currently keeps 15 horses for your riding pleasure. He offers hourly rides or half-day and full day rides.
There is a bed & breakfast located next door to the ranch known as “Up the Creek Bed and Breakfast.” Call them at (928) 476-6571 or go online to www.upthecreekbedandbreakfast.com.
Oh, if we had a silver dollar tree in our back yard we could enjoy all these trips. Oh well.