How to Visit the World's Hottest Destinations on the Cheap
Travel experts watching the signs like to predict which destinations will be the best to visit in the coming year. What they often fail to watch for, though, are the costs of getting to said destinations. Of course there are hordes of people who think: "Bali!" But realistically, can we ever afford to go to these trendy locales?
Actually, yes. Dollar Flight Club, a subscription service that alerts members to cheap airfares, has reviewed more than 1 billion data points to determine the world's 20 most-desired destinations to visit — and when to nab the best deals to check them out.
Looks like Bali isn't as out of reach as you may have thought!
20. Santiago, Chile
Chile is flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, promising a variety of ways to enjoy nature, with a striking capital city — Santiago — awaiting in the valley in between.
The country has been the source of political turmoil and unrest recently, but the U.S. State Department says it's safe for travel (though it advises exercising increased caution). This year is a great time to experience all the country and its capital have to offer; at the end of 2020, the destination will be one of the best places on the planet to catch the total solar eclipse.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Santiago
"Lowest Fare" is the cheapest price Dollar Flight Club predicts for flights to the destination from U.S. airports.
"When to Travel" specifies the travel periods when you can find the cheapest flights.
19. Helsinki, Finland
Poor Finland. Often hidden amongst its fellow Scandinavian countries, it offers much of the same outdoor wonders of Sweden, Iceland and Norway, but is only just now starting to get the same kind of attention.
You know what Finland has that those other countries don't? Lapland, where Santa Claus Village and reindeer can be found. This is the fictional North Pole come true.
But the real selling point here is the winning capital city of Helsinki,
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Helsinki
18. Podgorica, Montenegro
Surrounded by more famous Balkan countries and the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is often overlooked. But guess what? It offers the same striking coastline, arresting mountains and quaint port-side villages at a fraction of the price.
Since gaining independence in 2006, the country has been pouring resources into its tourism infrastructure, with new hotels and attractions catering to growing crowds. (But don't worry; it still feels very much off the beaten path.)
The country's capital city of Podgorica makes for an excellent home base, with a surprising array of art to peruse and cuisine to try, despite its small size.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Podgorica
17. Cape Town, South Africa
The "Mother City" is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations to check out. Beaches, hiking, wineries — all within easy access to safaris within South Africa's borders? Little wonder this place is earning notice from travelers!
Don't leave without visiting Table Top Mountain National Park. It's named for the flat-top mountain of its name, but offers so much more as well, including beautiful bays and beaches.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Cape Town
16. Male, Maldives
The Caribbean? Been there. Hawaii? Done that. If you are ready to step up your clear-as-glass water game, consider the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
Home to luxurious all-inclusive resorts under reputable banners like One & Only and Six Senses, these islands are all about spoiling guests. The capital city of Male, with its high-energy markets and cafes, makes for an appealing study in contrasts juxtaposed against the laid-back island vibe.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Male
15. Vancouver, British Columbia
The northern neighbor of the U.S. has a few budget-friendly entry points, but none as cheap as Vancouver when it comes to roundtrip flights, according to Dollar Flight Club.
Vancouver, one of "AFAR" magazine's top picks for the year, is so appealing that even Harry and Megan gave up their palaces in England to live there!
It's also a particularly eco-friendly destination to visit, with plans to become the world's greenest city by the end of 2020.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Vancouver
14. Bogota, Colombia
The cheapest roundtrip flights to South America are those flying to Bogota, Colombia, a fact not lost on the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), which named Colombia "one of the most attractive destinations" for 2020.
The county touts a diverse array of natural environments. Gorgeous coastline? Check. Snowy mountains? Check. Amazon jungle? Check, check, check. Those who visit Bogota will find historic wonders — including a circa-1640 shrine perched atop Mount Monserrate — and plenty of bustle in the downtown La Candelaria neighborhood.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Colombia
13. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The luxury travel planners at Virtuoso consider Slovenia an undiscovered gem just waiting to be explored in 2020. The country's historic architecture and natural charms — including an abundance of rivers, lakes and fascinating caves — rival its more popular neighbors of Croatia and Austria, but it lacks the same sometimes-suffocating crowds.
Plus, the country is relatively affordable and has been named one of the safest in the world to visit. Ljubljana, the capital, is intersected by a river and offers plentiful green space among its urban offerings.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Ljubljana
12. Buenos Aires, Argentina
When the "New York Times" profiles your city, you know your time has come. Not that Buenos Aires' time hasn't already come again and again, thanks to its vibrant Latin culture and natural beauty.
Why go in 2020? For one thing, the devaluation of Argentina's peso means great value for travelers. For another, it's been investing in exciting new developments, including a collection of trendy bars and cafes in the historic Old Market.
Want to escape the city? Lonely Planet and "AFAR" are betting northeast Argentina will be one of the year's hottest destinations.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Buenos Aires
11. Dubai, U.A.E.
"Travel + Leisure" says Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, will propel travel to the region in 2020.
The 173-day event is promising "eye-catching, mind-bending, taste bud-tickling, grin-inducing, good-weird, did-that-really-just-happen fun." More than 200 restaurants, 192 country pavilions, 60 daily shows and 15 hours of seven-day-a-week entertainment will provide the whole world in one place.
In the coming years, the city has plans to debut a super-fast hyperloop train to travel to and from Abu Dhabi, and (seriously) flying taxis. Watch for this city to be on trending lists for a long time yet.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Dubai
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
One of the best cities to visit in terms of cheap flights from the U.S. is also one of the best cities to visit for avoiding throngs of tourists.
Even as Scandinavia becomes a fashionable place for travelers, Copenhagen's lack of glaciers and Northern Lights has kept it relatively under-the-radar. But that doesn't mean the city isn't as cool — if not cooler — than others in northern Europe. A visit to the Tivoli Gardens amusement park and 17th-century Nyhavn waterfront are worth a visit alone.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Copenhagen
9. Barcelona, Spain
More than 8 million people stayed in Barcelona in 2018, making it one of the world's most-sought-after cities for vacations. The tourism is at such a peak that the city's mayor is imposing restrictions as residents angrily tell tourists to "go home."
This may make you rethink a trip — and Fodors says you should — but if you want to see this stunning city for yourself before tourism is altogether banned (an overstatement), this is the year. Plus, despite its popularity, visiting is surprisingly affordable, if you time things right for after the main tourist season.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Barcelona
8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The medieval city of Dubrovnik exploded in popularity after it was a backdrop in the popular HBO series "Game of Thrones." (There are even GoT tours of "King's Landing.") It's a beautiful seaside city and easier and easier to get to as more clamor to visit.
Nearby, the coastal city of Rijeka was named European Capital of Culture in 2020. To celebrate the honor, the Croatian city is planning more than 1,000 arts and entertainment events and parties throughout the year.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Dubrovnik
7. Marrakech, Morocco
It's not often that you see a North Africa nation cited on insider lists as the place to go, so when you see Morocco make the cut, it's time to make it a priority. Forbes and Lonely Planet both feature Marrakech on their lists of places to travel in 2020, with the latter calling the city one of the most beautiful in the world.
Why not find out if it's true?
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Marrakech
6. Melbourne, Australia
Sydney may be the capital of New South Wales, but Melbourne is capital of Victoria, a southeastern Australian state with plentiful outdoor settings to explore, from wineries to mountain ranges and landscaped gardens to beaches. Those looking to get away from crowds of tourists and to expand their travels into Australia find Victoria and Melbourne utterly charming — a Boston to New York City, if you will.
Unfortunately, the devastating fires that rampaged Australia burned across Victoria and the suburbs of Melbourne. But the area is recovering, and locals need tourism dollars to help support the rebuilding efforts.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Melbourne
5. Rome, Italy
Italy often lands on the travel "it" list. And when picking one of the many cities to visit, the journey typically begins in the ancient capital of the world: Rome.
This is not a city that requires a special event to lure you in: Historic marvels like St. Peter's Basilica and the Colosseum, the best art scene around and some of Italy's finest cuisine are enough of a draw on their own.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Rome
4. Tokyo, Japan
As Tokyo readies to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, the city is on the world's mind. Come this July, the thriving capital will serve as the 32nd location for the games, as well as the Paralympic Games.
Through early August, 33 Olympic and 22 Paralympic sports will be contested, with fans welcome at new stadiums constructed specifically for the events. According to travel experts, you can snag a great deal — while enjoying the new infrastructure — if you make a trip just before the games begin.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Tokyo
3. Mykonos, Greece
It's not Athens luring the travelers, but Mykonos and the surrounding Greek Isles. CN Traveler calls Mykonos the "Best of the Greek Isles for decadent parties and five-star hotels." Even if you aren't into clubs that go all night, you'll be hard-pressed to find views like the ones you'll find here — can the water actually look as blue as in the photos? Believe it not, yes.
Then again, if you are going to fly all the way to Greece, how can you pass up a stop in Athens, birthplace of modern civilization? Happily, Dollar Flight Club lists Athens as a great value destination in 2020 as well. Extend your trip and see it all.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Mykonos
2. Paris, France
It isn't a shock to see Paris, one of the most-visited cities in the world, listed as a coveted destination for 2020 travel. What is surprising? That visiting needn't break the bank. With high demand to visit, airlines have more flights heading to the City of Lights, bringing prices down (at least a bit).
Turns out this year's a particularly great time to go, too. In the culinary capital of the world, foodies can now find 10 restaurants with 3 Michelin stars, the highest honor a restaurant can earn.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Paris
1. Bali, Indonesia
Topping the list of trending destinations in 2020 is Bali. The island in Indonesia features plenty of sun, sand and sea, as well as an exotic and rich culture, temples and history.
However, overtourism has led to increased trash and damage to the environment. Fodor's actually placed Bali on its fourth annual "No List," asking travelers to give the island a chance to recuperate. Should you heed the call? We'll leave that to you.
How to Book an Affordable Trip to Bali