We love a good new year’s resolution, don’t you? CheapAir is resolving to make international travel a priority in 2017 and we think you should too! We can’t wait to share our picks for must-visit spots for the year. To make the list, a destination had to be relatively inexpensive, rich in culture, history or archaeological interest (most of these were all 3!), and had to be a rising star in leisure travel. Here’s who made the cut.
Visitors to southeast Asia flock to Thailand in droves. Cambodia deserves to have this kind of attention, as it’s home to a rich, if troubled history, and some of the most impressive archaeological ruins in the world (Angkor Wat). The capital, Phnom Penh, boasts some of the loveliest French architecture from the Indochina era and the food is plentiful, delicious and cheap. Cheap flights are on EVA Air from JFK from around $800.*
2. Cape Town, South Africa
The entire continent of Africa is on our bucket list, but if you only have a week or two for vacation in 2017, the must-visit destination is Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town sits at the foot of the swoon-worthy Table Mountain and has culture in spades, activities for the whole family and a wallet-friendly price tag to boot! Multicultural tolerance is the hard-earned rule of the land in Cape Town, and as Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindu residents will tell you – Cape Town’s residents are proud pioneers in social justice. Flights to Cape Town start at around $750* from Washington DC (IAD).
Why Belize in 2017? Why not! There’s a lot to love about Central America’s most accessible spot. To begin with, Belize’s official language is English, making it super easy to get your feet wet in this part of the world without a stressful language barrier. If your ideal vacation involves lounging on the beach, Belize has some beauties, but it’s perhaps known best to be a destination for divers the world over. You can also visit archaeological wonders built by the Mayans, and take part in jungle adventures like rappelling down waterfalls, zip lining above the canopy and crawling through ancient cave systems. If you’re scouting retirement destinations you could do a lot worse than Belize – the government allows expat “retirees” significant perks and you only have to be 45 to qualify! Book your roundtrip flight on American for just $400* from Denver.
The country of Colombia has been on a mission for years to improve it’s rather tarnished image and it’s won us over with one, key element: the enthusiasm and hustle of the Colombian people. Colombia has no huge must-see sights like Machu Picchu or the Amazon. But what it does have is a population with a deep and abiding love of country anxious to show visitors what they love about it. Bogota is the third highest capital city in South America (at nearly 9,000 feet) and if you get outside the capital you’ll find many adventure activities for every taste and skill level. Flights to Bogota are usually quite reasonable – Aero Mexico offering flights right now from Dallas for around $600.*
5. Marquesas, French Polynesia
Fans of ecotourism will find much to love about French Polynesia’s Marquesas Islands. The volcanic islands are unprotected by reefs, so the coastlines have a completely different feel than their neighbors like Tahiti (3 hours away by air). Looming cliffs and wide bays are buffeted by intense waves all year round. The interiors of the islands are bucolic and beautiful where you can see herds of goats and horses running free. The smallest of the inhabited islands, Tahuata, is a fun day trip where you will likely see schools of dolphins on your approach. The 12 islands that make up the Marquesas are an unspoiled and untouched destination. Locals demand respect for Mother Nature and faced with her intense beauty, most everyone complies. Getting to the Marquesas is not for the faint of heart – virtually all flights go through Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia and operated exclusively by Air Tahiti. Flights to Papeete from Los Angeles are around $1800* if you really shop around for affordable dates.
6. New Zealand
The island nation of New Zealand is a country of contrasts – locals in Christchurch like to say you can be on the beach in the morning and skiing in the afternoon and that’s not hyperbole. The country has been rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes in recent years, which has contributed to bargain basement prices for leisure travelers. Come for the hospitality, the varied culture, the breathtaking landscapes and the incredible value. Getting there might try your patience a bit (the flight is LOOONG and expensive), but you’ll quickly forget the pain once you set eyes on New Zealand. Flights on Fiji Airways start at around $1400* round trip from Los Angeles.
Romania has been on a lot of “up-and-coming” travel lists for years now, but we think that 2017 might be the year that Romania finally hits the big time. Bucharest is still a bit rough around the edges, but there’s a reason that Hollywood has been making films here for years – the countryside, smaller cities and towns are lovely, inexpensive and relatively untouched by globalism and familiar brands (there’s not a single Starbucks in the land). If you come to Romania, you can expect to take a vacation from the familiar – and isn’t that what travel is all about? LOT Airlines offers good round trip deals from a variety of U.S. gateways – $660* from JFK.
The Brexit referendum in 2016 has made England a more affordable destination for Americans than it has been in a very long time. The dollar is strong against the pound, so we recommend a trip across the pond in 2017. Many travelers stick to London proper, but we fancy a trip to the stunning English countryside, where picturesque villages retain a sort of quaint charm and the natural beauty is profound. Virgin Atlantic is offering roundtrip flights for the bargain price of $500*.
Not only can Canada boast one of the world’s dreamiest Prime Ministers and a reputation for being one of the countries most welcoming to visitors, in 2017 our neighbor to the north turns 150 and there will be celebrations galore around the country all year. This is good news for international travelers, not least because Canada really delivers on that old travel adage that “there is something for everyone.” Outdoors enthusiasts will fall deeply in love with Alberta’s Banff National Park and the casually cosmopolitan will love the chill vibe of Vancouver. The chic and worldly will feel right at home in Toronto and travelers looking for a bit of old Europe will find Montreal right up their alley. Flights from $250* from San Francisco to Vancouver and Chicago to Toronto. Flights from New York (LGA) to Montreal are under $200.*
Enthusiasm for Cuba is showing no signs of easing in 2017; in fact, interest is off the charts! Havana is still getting the bulk of the love, but adventurous souls are venturing out to other parts of the island – Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Holguin, Camaguey and Cienfuegos all have their own personalities and flavor to recommend them. Stay in Havana for a week or rent a car and tool around the island to your heart’s content. You can easily qualify yourself for travel and even DIY an educational trip to Cuba. We have lots of resources to help make your Cuban travel dreams a reality. Just navigate over to our Cuba flight search page and start your research now! Flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale start for under $150* on JetBlue.
*Fares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 12/28/16 on select dates between 01/01/17 and 10/31/17. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.