BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
To Go or Not to Go: 2014
Sure, the world can be a dangerous place, but we're happy to report progress in some notorious trouble spots. Here, the up-to-the-minute scoop on what countries to avoid, where to tread carefully, and where you can kick back and relax!
Is Brazil on your bucket list this year? How about Haiti? We've got the inside scoop on some surprising places you should visit this year, where you should proceed with caution, and which spots to re-think visiting this year altogether until political and social situations calm down a bit.
Home to natural wonders like the Amazon, beautiful beaches in Ipanema, and thriving cities like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is always a great place to visit, especially in 2014. This year, the city of Porto Alegre will play host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup from June 12th thru July 13th, an event that vacation rentals guru HomeAway says has already brought a 41 percent increase in vacation rentals to the country—check out HomeAway's FIFA World Cup '14 Brazil Guide for more information on things to do and other attractions you shouldn't miss while you're in town for the event. Brazil is also home to some of the world's best Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro—this year they happen from Feb. 28th thru Mar. 4th—as well as Sao Paulo, Recife, Olinda, Salvador de Bahia, Florianopolis, and in other party-centric cities like Buzios, Porto de Galinhas, Fortaleza, Porto Seguro, and Iguazu Falls. If you're visiting Rio de Janeiro, don't forget to pay a visit to the spectacular Sugarloaf Mountain Aerial Tram, named by Budget Travel as one of the world's most beautiful cable car rides.
To Go or Not to Go: Go, especially to experience Carnival and to get in on the FIFA World Cup fever.
Looking for an unforgettable tropical vacation to a land of beautiful beaches, impressive volcanoes, and rich culture, that's not as crowded and touristy as Costa Rica? Try visiting Nicaragua, an up-in-coming travel destination offering visitors a more authentic Central American experience. This intriguing destination is located less than two hours from Miami, 2.5 hours from Houston, and accessible by direct flights to Managua from major U.S. cities like Miami, Houston, L.A., San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington D.C. Once you arrive, hotels, restaurants, and attractions are super-affordable, beaches are largely unspoiled, and you can try your hand at anything from surfing and snorkeling to zip-line canopy tours and sandboarding down the Cerro Negro volcano. What's not to love?
To Go or Not to Go: Go.
United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
There's a lot going on in the U.A.E., from the world's fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi to the expected opening of The Louvre Abu Dhabi in December of 2015 on Saadiyat Island. While this region is typically known for being a glamorous playground for the international rich and famous, the good news is hotels and attractions are actually pretty affordable—a recent search on Trivago shows hotel rooms in Dubai are available starting at $62 USD a night! A one-day pass for unlimited rides on the Dubai metro and bus system costs less than $4 per person—you can pay less than $2 per person to take a joyride on the city's popular Line 8 bus, a scenic trip that'll take you from the Gold Souk through Heritage Village, along the beach on Jumeirah Rd, and past the Burj al-Arab and Wild Wadi before ending near Internet City and the Mall of the Emirates. Visit the Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Fort for less than $1, experience local history and cultue at the Jumeirah Mosque ($2.50), explore one of the oldest Emerati neighborhoods in Bur Dubai and the Bastakiya district with a guide from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultral Understanding ($15), or spend the day at the Dubai Mall Aquarium for from $15 per person. You can also gain free entry into Mushrif Park, home to swimming pools, horseback riding, and camel rides, or treat yourself to a seaside picnic at Jumeirah Public Beach. And that's just in Dubai. The other six Emirates—Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain are also worth visiting for their rich history and cultural experiences.