For travelers who’ve always wanted to see the Galapagos Islands or the Taj Mahal, next year might be a good time to cross those destinations off a bucket list.
Travelzoo has released its annual list of WOW Deal Destinations for 2014, both domestic and foreign locales where Travelzoo editors expect to see good bargains in the coming months.
“We generally see this list generate some pretty good buzz,” said Travelzoo senior editor Gabe Saglie. “There’s always one or two sort of bucket list destinations on the list.”
Here are Travelzoo’s recommendations for affordable travel destinations in 2014:
While best known for the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador also features colonial cities, the Andes and the Amazon. With the world’s eyes on nearby Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, the Ecuadorian government is looking to lure tourism dollars away from its neighbor to the east by boosting its tourism budget. It’s also a great time to score a deal; some recent airfare sales to Quito and Guayaquil have hovered around $399 roundtrip, which is less than the cost of some U.S. domestic flights, and Quito has a new airport.
“I think that destination stands out not only as affordable but also as an up-and-coming destination as well,” said Anne Banas, executive editor for SmarterTravel.com.
The Jersey Shore
Business was down as much as 40 percent along portions of the Jersey shore this summer, as the region continues to rebuild following Superstorm Sandy. Although 2013 might have been disappointing, Saglie believes the 127-mile coastline is poised for a rebound next summer. Travelzoo recently has published Jersey Shore hotel deals with up to a 45 percent savings. “While it may have been an expensive destination in the past, it’s going to become much more affordable,” Saglie said.
“I think we’re looking at 2014 as a year that will be a good year for travelers looking to go to India,” said Saglie. The rupee has fallen by more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past year, making it a bargain for Americans, and a number of major hotel chains such as Accor, Carlson Rezidor, Hilton, Hyatt and the InterContinental Hotels Group are expanding. Although airfare remains a big-ticket item, “once you get there, from hotels to transportation to attractions, I think we’re looking at some of the best value you’ll see all year,” Saglie said.
Palm Springs, Calif.
There’s a renaissance of sorts taking place in the greater Palm Springs area, with new hotels opening and others undergoing multimillion-dollar renovations as the resort community about 100 miles from Los Angeles looks to reinvent itself. “I think that there is this push now to make the area hipper and younger,” said Saglie. Expect to find pool parties and high-end restaurants, as well as a music scene driven by the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
River cruise lines are expanding their fleets in Europe, with Viking River Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Tauck River Cruises and AmaWaterways scheduled to debut new vessels in 2014. That’s enough new cabin space to welcome 200,000 new travelers. “I think that kind of availability naturally is going to raise bargains,” said Saglie.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief for Cruise Critic, said cruise lines in Europe have been ramping up over the past few years to meet increasing demand. Along with that, lines are adding amenities such as larger cabins, more dining options and more stylish touches, and making shore excursions more exciting. “Part of the big appeal of river cruises, especially in Europe, is you walk off the gangway and you’re right in the middle of Cologne,” she said.