It’s no secret that it’s been a year of ups and downs—but one silver lining is the affordable travel possibilities it’s opened up for American travelers. Thanks to expanding air routes, a strong U.S. dollar, and tour companies catering to younger, more frugal tourists, the world is now more accessible than ever.
Here are 10 dream trips you can actually afford to take in 2017—and how to make them happen.
Moroccan Desert and Medinas
For expert-led trips that are truly light on your wallet, look to colorful Morocco. G Adventures’ Morrocco Kasbahs and Desert trip is on sale for just $100 per day—or $800 for an eight-day tour from Casablanca to Marrakech with medina walks, some meals, and an overnight Sahara Desert excursion included.
Flights to Casablanca for around $700 make affordable travel to Morrocco easy to find, and the cost of living is far less than it is in the United States (except when it comes to beer or gasoline). Meals at restaurants are around 70 percent cheaper than they are in the U.S., according to BaseTrip. You’re unlikely to spend much more than you will on the tour and airfare unless you have a medina-shopping addiction—and stargazing in the Sahara is free.
Highlights of the United Kingdom
This will be a banner year for affordable travel to the United Kingdom. With the unfortunate economic fallout from this summer’s Brexit vote comes a more favorable exchange rate for Americans visiting England—last year one pound was worth about $1.50, but now it’s at about $1.20. Visiting because of this might feel like taking advantage of a bad situation, but as detrimental as the chaos of Brexit may be for Britons and Europeans, tourism is still crucial to the U.K. economy.
Cross London off your bucket list or head to a lesser-known English locale like Hull—the U.K. City of Culture for 2017 (an honor only given every four years). Don’t forget about Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—some of the most scenic spots in the world for hiking and cycling.
Airfare to the U.K. is at its lowest in years thanks to Brexit and growing budget carriers like WOW, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Virgin Atlantic. Tour companies have also slashed their U.K. prices by hundreds of dollars, like Go Ahead Tours’ Highlights of England, Scotland, and Ireland—10 nights starting at $1,999, including a guide, accommodations, and some meals.
Greek Island Hopping
Another newly affordable travel destination that relies on tourism, Greece is just one country of many where the euro currency is more favorable for Americans this year. One euro is currently worth $1.05—which is a 10-year low for the European Union.
Getting to the picturesque Peloponnese islands with a reliable guide is cheaper than it has been in years. Tour Athens, Ios, Santorini, and Mykonos for 12 nights with Contiki from $2,000 (including accommodations, a guide, and some meals), or sail from Santorini to Mykonos with Intrepid Travel for just $1,400.
Tokyo and Osaka, Japan
Travel to Japan has never been exactly cheap, but a combination of falling yen currency and new budget-friendly tour options are making it an incredible value destination for 2017. It’s no longer sky-high expensive to get an expert guide to show you the path less traveled.
G Adventures has created a new 2017 Japan trip for frugal travelers called Japan on a Shoestring, which starts at $1,999 for nine days traveling from Tokyo to Osaka. An overnight train and hostels are included, plus this itinerary includes must-do activities like a tea ceremony, a hot spring visit, a street food tour, and shrine visits. You’ll see iconic Japanese sites without having to plan around them yourself.
Safari in Botswana and See Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
An African safari is going to cost you thousands—right? Not if you’re going with a millennial-focused tour operator like Geckos Adventures. Geckos’ affordable travel options are only for travelers aged 18 to 29. Its guided nine-day Journey Through Botswana to Victoria Falls costs just $1,050, and hits rightfully hyped spots like Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls and Botswana’s Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
You’re unlikely to find that value on a safari anywhere else, let alone with a group of travelers tailored to your age. Some might say you can’t put a price on spotting elephants, peering over Victoria Falls’ edge, and helping save endangered rhinos by supporting an animal sanctuary—but this price sounds pretty good.
Indian Yoga and the Taj Mahal
Taking a yoga retreat in India sounds Eat Pray Love enough to merit a steep price tag, but Intrepid Travel has made it as affordable as $100 per day, with accommodation, transport, and guided tours included. The 12-day Golden Triangle: Yoga and Bollywood Edition trip is perfect for anyone who has ever yearned to see the Taj Mahal—with the added bonus of yoga and Bollywood dance classes. Fit in all the iconic sites, plus time for lesser-known affordable travel experiences like optional hot-air ballooning with your small group.
Canada Outdoor Adventures
Travel experts have been saying it for some time now, but it still rings true: Canada’s great outdoors are on sale for American adventurers thanks to a strong U.S. dollar. Hiking and biking tours across the country are affordable, and just as jaw-dropping as ever.
Take the money you’ll save on airfare if you can drive over the border and spend it on an all-inclusive national parks trip like REI’s Canadian Rockies Hiking Plus tour, from $2,400. You’ll traverse scenic peaks and trails with rafting, canoeing, and glacier excursions included. Camping with a two-night break in hotels makes it the perfect balance of sharpening your survival skills and relaxing.
Sailing in Montenegro
Another euro-currency affordable travel hotspot for 2017 is Montenegro—an alternative to tourist-frequented Eastern European spots like Croatia. G Adventures makes it easy to skip around Montenegro’s sunny coast with short stops in Croatia, from $1,499 for an eight-day sailing itinerary. The coastal Balkans combine ancient city walls and fishing villages with snorkeling (equipment included on this trip), sailing, nightlife, and beaches.
Also worthy of its budget title is Intrepid Travel’s Galapagos on a Shoestring trip, packing the natural wonders of Ecuador’s Galapagos islands into a week-long tour for as little as $932. That means you won’t waste any vacation days or money—especially since a group trip is virtually the only way to see all that the protected Galapagos have to offer. Island hop and hike volcanoes, spot sea lions and rare blue-footed boobies, and kayak and snorkel for unique views of the untouched islands’ biodiversity.
Alaskan Glacier Exploration
You can’t quite get to Antarctica or the Falklands on an affordable travel budget yet, but let’s not forget the stateside options that can also put you up close with towering glacier walls, powerful whales, and cold ocean spray. Alaskan adventure travel options are reasonably priced and all-inclusive if you go with a cruise option like Go Ahead Tours’ Alaskan Glacier Cruise. From $2,499, you can whale watch, glacier gaze, and explore Victoria, Canada, and Seattle—with most of your meals included. The loop from Seattle to Skagaway and back is 11 days, which is enough time to almost guarantee whale sightings and epic glacier views.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Most Intriguing Places to Visit in 2017
- 10 Must-Visit U.S. Hotspots for 2017
- 10 Cheap Tropical Hotspots for Winter 2017
- 10 Dream Trips You Can Actually Afford in 2016
Associate Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
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