2009 was the year of the staycation, but a lot of us staycationed and ended up catching a cold from the chilly waters off the coast of Cornwall, or sitting too long in our own backyards, so in 2010 many people are feeling the fledgling green shoots of travel confidence - maybe even enough to venture back to the check in desk? Maybe just for a nine day trip (that's only five days off work...), or an all inclusive deal (when before even the mere suggestion of a package holiday was met with piles of scorn), and maybe it's worth considering travelling a bit further to hop right over the Eurozone on a longer flight to a cheaper destination?
World Reviewer put in the research hours to weigh up all these concerns and more and to bring you
10 x 2010's Best Bargain Travel Destinations:
Sofia is one of Europe's oldest cities but you might not guess it from the neoclassical Stalin era architecture that may initially obstruct your view of the older and more graceful balconied buildings designed by Viennese and Russian architects in the 19th Century. It's also one of the least well known of the Eastern European cities that have become the up-and-comer city break destinations over the last decade, so it's much cheaper.
Varna and Burgas, and the smaller towns between them running along the Black Sea Coast are also thrifty destinations for 2010 – you could expect to pay between £300 and £400 a week for a villa with a pool right by a stretch of golden sandy beach. Burgas wins points for having an airport and a reputation for knowing how to have a good time once the evening comes around, but surrounding it are a string of much prettier and more peaceful resorts. Varna has the Black Sea Riviera's other airport, and is also, unusually, both one of Bulgaria's prettiest and most modern cities – with all the charm renaissance and medieval buildings bring to a place, yet the benefits of all mod cons and amenities. A string of beach resorts also run up and down the coast out of Varna: Elena, Albena and St. Konstantin are the names to look out for when you book.
Turkey was a big discount destination in 2009, lauded for having the same sun and beaches as the Med. but with better food, some culture thrown in and all at half the price. And though some of its resorts have caught on and are charging more in 2010, some have added more rooms to meet demand so hopefully prices will still be friendly.
Dalaman saw the biggest increase in visitors in 2009, but the pretty harbour city of Bodrum was another popular spot. Antalya and Kusadasi are good if you're looking for a beach bumming kinda break, but Patara's 12 miles of beach is backed by a national park, and its sand dunes hide Lycian and Roman ruins so it's got that bit extra on offer.
For more inspiration on how to see Turkey in 2010 check out WR's Turkey Holiday Ideas.
Vegas may not seem the kind of place you should come if you're a little strapped for cash, but last year due to dropped business and conference bookings the average prices of a Vegas hotel stay dropped by a quarter, so there are a lot of empty hotel rooms that this year the owners need to fill – even at what they may usually consider ridiculous prices. And there's a lot more to do beside drink and gamble – there are quirky museums, cheap, yet world class, shows, lavish spas and quite a lot of free buffet food going around.
If you're looking to visit Vegas to improve your portfolio you might want to avoid May through June: this crazy, heady town is hosting the World Series of Poker which you can buy into from as little as $US500 – yes, even poker prices are reduced. In December it hosts the National Rodeo Finals which might be a bit safer.
As well as being the place where Africa, Europe and the Arab world meet, Morocco also gets a lot of sun and has lovely sandy beaches. That it's just outside the Eurozone brings the prices down, but the intoxicating flavours and primary colours of the county's culture make Morocco's coastline more than a bucket-and-spade-bring-your-nanna-beach-bumming destination.
Lively Fes is Morocco's fourth largest city and as far as the creators of inexpensive package holidays are concerned, has a good mix of culture, history, shopping and comfort – especially if you stay in a riad, but Casablanca and Essaouira benefit from being right on the coast, as well as from Moroccan staples like vibrant, exotic bazaars, unique architecture, graceful mosques, sandy surrounds and unusual local cusine.
Moroccan Holiday Ideas:
Tunisia shares a Mediterranean coastline, Morocco's North African sun, and has even more sand – much of the Sahara Desert with all its stories of romantic journeys lies within Tunisia's borders. It's also outside the Eurozone, AND is where Star Wars was filmed.
If it's a beach break you're after Djerba and surrounds is a good place to start looking – the diving is world famous, the nightlife around the central hotel district happens, as they say, but if you want a quieter holiday there are more traditional or cultural entertainment options to the south.
It may seem unlikely to see one of the world's best known safari destinations on a bargain travel list, but Kenya was so destabilised by the riots following the 2008 elections that it was surreptitiously removed from most people's to-do list. Now more stable, Kenya is clambering to be re-included. The Tsavo National Park is Kenya's largest game reserve and one of the best spots in Africa to see some of the action of the wildebeest migration, as well as lions, leopards and elephants. The plains of the Samburu Game Reserve protect antelope, zebra, lions, cheetah and leopards from people but not from each other, but for people the Masai Mara is even wilder.
For something more unusual, car free Lamu Island was one of Kenya's first settlements, and has the 14th Century architecture to prove it, as well as some of Kenya's best beaches.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Dubai crashed and burned but Abu Dhabi kept its head – but more importantly it didn't spend all its oil wealth on indoor ski resorts and palm shaped islands to begin with. The beaches are just as beautiful, the shopping is just as outrageous, but with lower prices, and there's less traffic on the roads.
Last year hundreds of gorgeous villas in some of the prettiest orange-and-sun-drenched regions of Italy lay empty because no one could afford to pay the asking prices, especially once all the fluctuating values in currency had been taken into account. This year many owners will be more of the attitude that close enough is good enough, and they'd rather have their villas full than empty, so there will be opportunities for some negotiation as well as some competitive pricing.
Have a look at some more Tuscan Holiday Ideas
Iceland was the most publicised loser in the economic brew-ha-ha that was 2009, but poor Argentina suffered as well. But their loss is again the travelling public's gain, and while Iceland's prices may be climbing back upwards, the cost of a flight or package to Buenos Aires is still slipping... Which means in 2010 you can get more tango music, tango dancing, theatre, shopping, fantastic restaurant meals - probably steaks - followed by nights on the town and Evita memorabilia for your buck, quid or other slang term for currency.
Buenos Aires is singled out in particular because in May 2010 the Teatro Colón Opera House is set to re-open with much fanfare, coinciding with the celebrations to remember the Argentinian War of Independence which is always a big street party.
WR blogger Nora Dunn recommends it because it's become one of the least visited of the Hawaiian islands, but its resorts have also been hit hard by the credit crunch so there are some cheap opportunities to sample the pleasures of its watersports, diving, snorkelling, cycling, golf, jungles and volcanoes, in the Volcanoes National Park – it even has the world's tallest mountain, if you count from below sea level and Big Island even gets snow!
And one more just in case none of the above took your fancy:
Mexico and the Mayan Riviera
Mexico is bouncing back from the whole swine flu thing to become an even cheaper destination than it was before – and it's had a reputation for being good value for dollar holders for the last few decades. Mexico City is a good option for a city break with a bit of culinary colour, exotic shopping, archaeological treasures and artistic flair thrown in for added value.
How do you fancy those green shoots then?
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