All travelers are looking cut costs these days, and one very effective method is to be a little more intrepid. While some places on this list might surprise you, all are guaranteed to provide a unique experience that many other Americans may not yet have shared.
El Salvador. The country has subtle charms that go unnoticed on first glance. Very little here is geared toward travelers, making this a perfect destination for those with a curious spirit. Adventurers in particular will find much to do, from surfing along the Pacific Coastline (short-boarding at La Libertad or longboarding at El Sunzal) to scuba diving the volcanic crater of Lago Coatepeque. For a taste of the tranquil hill country where coffee is grown, take a day or two touring the Ruta de las Flores, a collection of five little towns that are authentically Salvadoran. Ancient ruins such as the Mayan site of Tazumal dot the countryside.
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Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s the city’s 100th birthday, and it’s celebrating. From early neighborhoods such as Neve Tzedek to sleek UNESCO heritage site International-style buildings, from its hot nightlife and food scenes to the cool beaches on the Med, this is a city on the move. Wallpaper has a guide to Tel Aviv, but Americans don’t yet see the picture.
Margarita Island, Venezuela. Venezuelans are enormously fond of the island they call the Perla del Caribe, or the “pearl of the Caribbean.” Its status as a duty-free port and its proximity to the mainland make it the top vacation spot for Venezuelans. Increasing numbers of foreigners are discovering “Isla” as well, attracted by miles of white sandy beaches, glittering hotels and restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and 16th-century forts and national parks. It’s also a major destination for windsurfers as well as a stop on many Caribbean cruise itineraries.
Namibia. Many countries in Africa boast teeming wildlife and gorgeous scenery, but few can claim such huge untamed wilderness areas, such a pleasant climate, or as well-developed infrastructure and tourist facilities. One of Namibia’s highlights is the Desert Express, a three-day train journey between Windhoek and Swakopmund. Along the way you can stop to walk in the desert, visit the world’s biggest outdoor rock-art gallery, watch lions being fed, and view a spectacular desert sunset (or sunrise).
The Azores. An autonomous region of Portugal, the island group known as the Azores is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at a latitude approximating Washington, D.C. and has a long and glorious history. Christopher Columbus is said to have stopped here in 1493 on his return from the New World. These days the Azores are a haven for cruise ships and yachts, stopping over in the islands for a glimpse of their stunning roadside flora, their steep-volcanic landscape, their seemingly endless sea vistas, and their reputation as a quiet retreat.
Outer Space. Soon. Seriously. Virgin Galactic will take that $100,000 deposit any time you’re ready.
Photo courtesy of Ministerio de Turismo El Salvador