To Go or Not to Go: 2015
We've got the inside scoop on how you can check places like Cuba and other hot spots off your bucket list—plus some need-to-know info about the spots you should hold off on visiting until political tensions calm down a bit.
We've been keeping an eye on all the bucket list-worthy places that made news in 2014 and early 2015 so you don't have to. Here's Budget Travel's definitive list of the places you should visit this year, where you should tread carefully, and which spots are worth waiting for until things calm down a bit.
Cuba has been making news a lot lately, especially with American and Cuban officials working together more than ever to restore the relationship between the two nations. As a result, restrictions that once made travel to Cuba nearly impossible are now starting to ease up. While it's not as easy as just booking a flight and lounging on a beach all week, Americans interested in traveling to Cuba to visit family or to participate in religious, student or journalist-related activities, cultural performances, sporting events, or educational People-to-People tours will no longer have to face as much red tape as in recent years. According to an article by the New York Times, Americans will still need to fit their trip into one of the acceptable travel categories listed above and keep all receipts from activities in Cuba for up to five years following the trip. On the bright side, you'll be spared the hastle of waiting to be approved for a license on a case-by-case basis, you'll soon be able to use American credit cards on the island, and you'll be allowed to bring home up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars in your $400 souvenir limit.
To Go or Not to Go: Go! Friendly Planet's Discover Havana tour starts at $2,399 per person for a six-day trip when you book through this link by Feb. 24th. Other affordable options include their Highlights of Havana & Varadero tour, a seven-day trip from $2,799 per person, and Colors of Cuba, a nine-day adventure through Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cojimar, and Santa Clara, from $3,699. SmarTours also offers an 11-day trip to Cuba from $2,999 per person when you book by Mar. 12th.
Los Cabos: Cabo San Lucas & San José del Cabo
Nowadays, it's hard to tell that this part of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula was hit by Hurricane Odile back in September of 2014, and we're happy to report the entire area has been bouncing back nicely ever since. Within just a few weeks of the Category 3 storm, Los Cabos International Airport was back to operating as usual, power was restored, and most hotels and restaurants were able to start the clean-up process and reopen in time for the busy 2014 holiday season. According to an article by The Seattle Times, Cabo San Lucas and nearby Medano Beach are bustling again, while other spots closer to San José del Cabo and along Cabo's Corridor, where the brunt of the damage was, are looking better every day. Don't let last year's hurricane stop you from heading to the beaches of Los Cabos in 2015!
To Go or Not to Go: Go!
If you've always wanted to see the pyramids up close, this is the year to visit Egypt—we even named it as one of Budget Travel's best budget destinations for 2015! While the country has been making headlines since 2011 due to political unrest, there are currently no Travel Warnings in effect by the U.S. State Department, and tourism is expected to increase thanks to super-affordable hotel rates—think major chains like Hilton, Starwood, and Marriott for less than $125 a night, and our favorite find, The Pyramids View Inn, an American-owned B&B that offers amazing views of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx and rates from $30 a night. Visitors can also expect fewer crowds at some of Egypt's biggest bucket-list-worthy attractions. Just remember to stay vigilant whenever you're in touristy areas and to avoid public demonstrations, which can sometimes end in violence. As of press time, the Egyptian Tourism Authority advises visitors to stick to larger cities like Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Hurghada, and Aswan, as parts of the northern Sinai and spots outside the Cairo metropolitan area are still considered to be dangerous.