With school back in session and peak travel season winding down, there are major deals on the horizon. Flights and hotels will boast lower prices in the fall, and you’ll also see thinner crowds out and about. But why not take the savings one step further? Get under the skin of your destination and spend even less by visiting small towns, instead of major cities.
Whitefish, Montana, USA
Few places capture the Great American Outdoors better than Montana, and Whitefish is a phenomenal base for adventuresome travelers. Closely situated to the picturesque Glacier National Park, you’ll find friendly locals and ample outdoor activity – from skiing and hiking to boating and ballooning – in this laid-back mountain town.
Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
Did the clamoring crowds at Niagara Falls leave a bad taste in your mouth? Head a few hours northeast to the charming heritage community of Port Hope, on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. There are plenty of ways to unwind in this off-the-beaten path town, from leisurely waterfront strolls to scenic country drives to artisan gallery tours.
Porto de Galinhas, Brazil
With most tourism info dominated by lively Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to assume Brazil is a country wholly devoted to sensationalism, rather than a place to swing a hammock undisturbed. But not far from the larger city of Recife lies the remote beach village of Porto de Galinhas. Whether you’re riding a dune buggy along palm-fringed sands or feeding the fish in natural tidal pools, you’ll feel worlds away from the wild crowds of Carnival.
Machu Picchu is certainly a world wonder and well worth your time, but don’t miss out on the authentic culture of modern Peru. The tiny town of Chivay in the Colca Canyon area offers a more unique South American experience. Soak in the thermal springs, gaze at the native condors, shop the local market, or try a little alpaca meat.
We hope you remembered to pack a French dictionary, because your chances of encountering an English speaker in this Mediterranean town are slim to none! Beziers lies in the heart of the lesser-known wine region Languedoc-Roussillon, and is just an hour away from Carcassonne, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in all Europe.
Forget Twilight and True Blood. The real vampire story began right here, in the heart of Romania. The historic Transylvanian fortress of Sighisoara was the birthplace of 15th century prince Vlad Tepes, the real Count Dracula. If bloodsuckers aren’t your cup of tea, the town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, bearing every resemblance to its medieval origins, from its cobblestone streets to its ornate churches.
Tokyo is so wildly expansive, it’s impossible to fit into a week-long vacation. Instead, consider retreating to the feudal mountain town of Hida-Takayama. Its nearby folk village forms an authentic open-air museum, while the central Old Town is beautifully preserved. Get close to the cultural heritage by staying in a traditional ryokan, or touring nearby temples on the Higashiyama Walk.
Vang Vieng, Laos
Travelers worldwide are rapidly catching on to the budget-friendly charms of Southeast Asia, but Laos is one of those rare countries still largely untouched by the Western world. Venture deep in the jungle to discover Vang Vieng, a paddy field-filled paradise which has gained popularity with backpackers as a prime tubing destination.
You’ve already hit Sydney, the Outback, and the Great Barrier Reef, but the Land of Oz is a tremendous country with so much more to show you. The Western Australia town of Broome is a coastal jewel – literally. One of the city’s major industries is pearl hunting. Mount a camel for a ride down Cable Beach and enjoy the spectacular sight of an Indian Ocean sunset.
Dunedin, New Zealand
As the second largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Dunedin isn’t exactly small, but this university town in Otago is certainly more off the beaten path than adventure capital Queensland. Cyclists will find loads of bike trails while culture vultures can tour the city’s incredible street art.