Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat December 19 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | December 19, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Top 2016 Budget Travel Destinations

    Top 2016 Budget Travel Destinations

    PHOTO: Although Southeast Asia is touristic, there’s a good reason for it. The people are friendly, the food is incredible and the landscape out of this world. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    So you want to start your new year with a bang — and what better way to do this than throwing out the old mundane routine, and living life on your terms by traveling the globe.

    For those who dream of globetrotting, and want to make it happen in 2016, below are the upcoming year’s top budget travel destinations, with the target traveler type indicated.   

    For the Adventure Seeker: Central America/South Africa

    If you’re looking for a complete change from your regular life, then Central America or South Africa may just be the best place for you. These regions are still under the radar, which means visitors can have a truly authentic experience!

    Central America

    Comprised of six vastly different countries, the area is perfect for the adventure seeker of all levels. I would advise you to learn Spanish in order to save yourself money, time and stress — but what good is a new year if you’re not willing to jump out of that comfort zone to try new things!

    Head to Belize for cave tubing, immerse yourself in the Caribbean vibes of Caye Caulker, Guatemala to trek active volcanoes and cook marshmallows over lava. Partake in a homestay with Spanish lessons for $180 a week in San Pedro and open new doors to a beautiful, new culture.

    PHOTO: If you crave adventure, off the well-worn path, you will have the adventure of a lifetime through Central America.

    Go cliff jumping over waterfalls and have the cheapest surf of your life in El Salvador, then get your scuba diving certification in Honduras. Volcano board, stargaze on beaches and nature reserves or take a shaman-guided spiritual journey in Nicaragua. Bum around, surf or party hard on the white-sand beaches with turquoise water surrounding you in Costa Rica and Panama.

    South Africa

    Another gem, typically off the radar, that you never stop hearing about from other backpackers who have traveled through Central America. Go on your dream safari, drive through the desert in your jeep while zebras, lions, giraffes and rhinos run around you. Live like a king while eating at incredible restaurants in Cape Town or bars in Johannesburg and swim with sharks in Kleinbaai!

    For the Newbie: Southeast Asia

    If you’re looking for an easy introduction into traveling, Southeast Asia is a backpackers’ mecca where English is still spoken (if you follow the typical “banana pancake trail”).

    The south of Thailand provides you with the perfect island life of white- sand beaches, diving and partying while the North of Thailand and Laos is full of trekking, temples, hippie vibes and breathtaking countryside.

    Vietnam provides picturesque limestone mountains, rice paddies and cave trekking in the north, along with the mind-blowing Halong Bay, a coastline full of sandy beaches and floating markets.

    And of course, you can’t forget Cambodia. This nation is known for its intensive history and breathtaking Ankor Wat temples, along with striking beaches on Koh Rong Island where you can swim, kayak and laze your days away. Of course there’s always the option to party on the famous “Pub Street” in Siem Reap.

    For the Spiritual/Hippie: Rishikesh, India

    If you’re looking for spiritual enlightenment, the best curries of your life, the birthplace of yoga and a path leading to mindfulness and a chance to truly work on your inner essence; look no further than Rishikesh, India. This town is known around the world for its top Ashrams for yoga and meditation retreats, classes and volunteer programs. 

    PHOTO: Remember to keep an open itinerary for unforeseen opportunities to experience something or somewhere new. You never know where you’ll end up!


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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