Travel

Travel Overseas

 

Travel Overseas

 
International Living’s editors and correspondents travel the world searching out the best retirement destinations. They clock up a lot of air miles and in their time on the road (and in the air) they have found the best ways to travel for less in interesting places overseas.

Maybe you’d shop in chic markets in Paris…golf on Ireland’s famous links…have a suit custom tailored in Bangkok (and delivered to your hotel)…

Well, good news: You could afford all of that…even on a modest budget.

It doesn’t take a fortune to enjoy a rich travel experience abroad. You simply need to know where and how to do it. And we can show you.

The travel postcards below will give you new ideas about places to visit…and live. Find out more about ways you can save money when you travel, where to find the best hotels in the world at affordable prices, get some insider knowledge to take you off the beaten track and read about travel ideas that won’t cost the earth, but will make you feel like a millionaire.
 

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Archives

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Fountains of Wine and Folklore in Spain’s Sierra Nevada

Climbing ever higher up the Poqueira Gorge, three of the loveliest Alpujarran villages are Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira. They’re designated as a Site of Historical and Artistic Heritage, so for those day-tripping from Granada city, the trio make a good Alpujarran taster. Although they’re tourist-oriented, there’s nothing tacky about delights such as freshly-baked almond pastries, weaving studios, and jams made from mountain raspberries.

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Maya Warriors and Croatia by Candlelight

A popular expat hub, the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye is no stranger to visitors. From August 6 to August 8, the island welcomes an influx of a different kind, as performers and artists from across the Maya world descend on Ambergris for the International Costa Maya Festival. This colorful event is a spectacle of music, dance, and food, as the region’s Maya ancestry is celebrated in vivid style.

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Stay with Descendants of Alexander the Great…

He marched his army from Macedonia to beyond the borders of the known world. On the banks of the Ganges, in modern-day India, he finally stopped. The Indians called him “Sikandar,” but we know him better as Alexander the Great. And legend has it that remnants of his army settled in the Himalayas, where they have remained to this day.

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Dive in the Great Blue Hole or Grab a Piece of Prehistory

Jacques Cousteau once declared the Blue Hole in Belize to be one of the best diving spots in the world—and few would disagree. The Blue Hole, part of the Lighthouse Reef system, is an almost-perfect circular limestone sinkhole that is nearly 1,000 feet wide and more than 400 feet deep. This striking ocean feature sits like a giant blue pupil in a sea of turquoise.

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The Eccentric Charms of Sweden’s Cultured Capital

Sweden may have a reputation as one of the most modern and progressive nations on Earth, but its capital, Stockholm—spread across 14 islands—still manages to preserve its past in resplendent style. At the heart of the city stands the Royal Palace, the magnificent residence of Sweden’s much-loved monarch, king Carl XVI Gustaf. This glorious, baroque-style building, open to the public, houses king Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, with over 200 stone sculptures from across Europe.

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Explore the World Rent Free

I ’m now enjoying the glorious summer on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Every morning, I start the day with a cup of coffee on the terrace overlooking Málaga Bay. I have a car to explore the area. Everything I need is close by: the grocery stores, vegetable market, shopping, and, of course, the world-class beaches of the Costa del Sol. And the best part about this? I don’t pay a cent for any of it.

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See the Galápagos on a Budget

When my husband Mark said, “Let’s go to the Galápagos for your birthday,” I couldn’t help but laugh. The Galápagos Islands, after all, are one of the ecological treasures of the world—and have a price tag to match. Or so I thought. But when we used my 58th birthday as an excuse for a five-day, four-night trip there I found out otherwise. The bill? $1,037 for the two of us, including airfare.

Manta

Three Countries, One Amazing Portable Income

I lost my job due to the recession. I worked for a bank, and when they decided to “right size” the organization, my job was eliminated. Fortunately my husband, Ron, and I had been researching ways to work from home so we could one day realize our dream of traveling the world. I had familiarized myself with my freelance options and we had already taken an exploratory trip to Ecuador.

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See the World and Save Money with a Roving Retirement

Neither Yvonne nor Michael Bauche qualified for a pension in Canada. And so the adventurous duo decided to embark on a round-the-world trip that has seen them visit Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Portugal, Italy, France, and the Caribbean. “We cut our expenses in half,” says Yvonne of their new life on the road. “Running two cars, paying for electricity, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, food, and eating out used to cost us almost $4,000 a month. Our average expenditure is now about $2,000, and we live and play very well on that.”

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Top 5 Ways to Experience Belize’s Toledo District

Take a short trip to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve to snorkel or fish. Or spend a few days in the sapodilla Cayes, near the barrier reef. If you time it right, you may encounter a majestic whale shark. ReefCI runs a marine research outpost at Tom Owen’s Caye. You can spend five days there, scuba diving and taking part in marine research, for less than $1,000.

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Good Food and Great Wine in Italy’s Hidden Region

Italy’s Le Marche is a hidden region, its patchwork of rolling hills dotted with stone farmhouses surrounded by sunflowers, olives groves, and grapevines. Here you’ll find the classic Italian lifestyle of good food, great wine, and cultural attractions, all for around $2,000 a month for a couple, including rent. The cuisine is varied and delectable, whether you’re in the hills or on the sea. Here are some of the specialties you should try…

Quito

How a Portable Income Funds Travels in Ecuador

Right now, my wife, Susan, and I are packing up our home and heading off on our travels—first on a road trip in the U.S. and then to Ecuador. We’re going to fly to Guayaquil and then catch a bus down to Loja, a university town known for music and colonial architecture. This will be our base from which to explore the south of this beautiful country.

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Santa Catalina: Panama’s Pacific-Coast Paradise

Much of Panama’s pacific coast consists of unspoiled beaches and little communities where you’ll find friendly people and small towns offering a taste of the past. Here authentic Panamanian culture still exists and people treat visitors like welcome guests. One such community is the surf town of Santa Catalina. It’s located in the province of Veraguas, about two-and-a-half hours southwest of the city of Santiago.

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Biassa: Delightful Pizzas in the Mountains of Italy

I stumbled upon the Italian town of Biassa quite by accident while looking for rooms to rent in the famed cinque Terre— five pastel-colored towns built along the cliffs of Liguria—and I knew right away that the town would be perfect. While I love Italy in the summertime, full of laughter, sunshine, and gelato, I also crave peace and quiet, to get away from the crowds and experience something authentic, something all my own.

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Costa Rica’s “Secret” Mountain Town Minutes From the Beach

I turn off the Pan-American Highway and start up a gentle slope. Well-maintained and brightly-painted homes with gardens full of vivid blue hydrangeas line the fences on either side of the roadway. Mango trees, heavy with almost glowing green and red fruit, loom above. Ten minutes later I’m in the heart of the village. There is a picturesque little white church with a tidy park in front. Children in pressed uniforms file out of their classrooms at the school down the road. Passers-by hail me with a hearty Buenas Tardes as they walk by. I’m in Miramar, a small town in the hills about an hour west of the country’s capital San José. It’s just a 10-minute drive from the Pacific coast. That must be why the garlic seafood dish I ordered at an open-air restaurant in the center of town tasted so fresh…and was just $6.50 for a heaping plate of clams, calamari, fish, and shrimp, with sides of salad and French fries.

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In Pictures: Hua Hin, Thailand

The picturesque seaside town of Hua Hin, Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, burgeoning restaurant scene, and small-town feel. It’s famous as a royal resort, yet the sea breeze and stunning views come cheap in Hua Hin. You’ll find a low cost of living and good-value real estate.

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Rent for $450 a Month in the Heart of Andalucia

Sherry production, horse-breeding, and flamenco…those are the three things Jerez de la Frontera does best. But after recently spending a month in this authentically Andalusian city, I think it should also be known for its low cost of living. Just a 10-minute drive inland from Spain’s southern Atlantic coast, Jerez has plenty of authentic Spanish charm combined with a comfortable, First World lifestyle. The historic center, with its cobbled streets, medieval monuments, and 18th-century buildings is compact and packed with plenty of cafes, bars, and stores. This was where I rented an apartment, so almost everyplace I wanted to visit—monuments, museums, and sherry bodegas—was within a 10- to 15-minute walk of my building. And that building was an 18th-century palace, with marble floors and a peaceful central courtyard. I paid just $800 a month for my furnished, one-bedroom apartment.

Quito

My Favorite Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador’s Capital

Each time I visit Quito, I get to explore new and interesting areas, hear of fabulous events taking place, and meet more wonderful people. Among Quito’s 2-million-plus populace is a large community of international folks enjoying the affordable life and big-city buzz. You’ll find them pretty spread out, as there are neighborhoods and lifestyles to suit most tastes. But they’re all making the most of what Quito offers…which is a lot. Here’s some of my favorite things to do…

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Returning to Old American Values in Costa Rica

Having lived in Costa Rica’s Orosi Valley for a year now, leaving our lives behind in Dallas was the best thing my partner and I could have done. I knew it would be years before I could afford to retire in the States but I was ready for an adventure. I didn’t want to wait. So I started searching… We visited Costa Rica numerous times in the three years before we moved here to find what we called our “Goldilocks Place.” The beaches were gorgeous, but too warm for our taste. The jungles were amazing, but too humid for us. The Central Valley was cooler and popular with expats, but just not quite what we were looking for. Then we found our place in the mountains of the Orosi Valley, about 20 miles south of the capital San Jose. It was “just right.”

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Culture, Convenience, and Affordable Living in Sunny Malta

When I first stepped foot on the pink-brick promenades that line the coast here, I immediately understood their love for this place. It’s a little closer to nature than the capital, but it’s still lively and popular, with sunny seaside walkways, busy bay-view restaurants, and distant views of fortresses, churches, and islands. More central and to the west, the walled town of Mdina and the larger city of Rabat that surrounds it are another popular spot with tourists—though the expats don’t seem to have caught on yet. Mdina is quiet and tiny, with under 300 full-time inhabitants, and Rabat is busy and lively, colorful and lived-in, with about 7,000 full-time residents, mostly Maltese.

Monkey Road, Costa Rica

Traveling the Monkey Road in Costa Rica

The year was 1997, and my wife, Suzan, and I had just gotten married in a civil service at the Hotel Don Carlos in San Jose, Costa Rica. She remembers that it was my idea, and I remember that it was hers. But whoever thought of it turned out to be a genius, because it set the travel bar pretty high for the rest of our lives.

Koh-Samui

The 5 Best Places for Expats to live in Thailand

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad. And there are lots of reasons why. For pennies on the dollar you get a year-round tropical climate and access to modern comforts and conveniences, including affordable, high quality medical care. There’s something special about this corner of the world. It’s an exotic place—orange-robed monks collect alms at dawn—yet it’s easy to live a comfortable lifestyle, similar to that of the West, but without the headaches and extra expense.

We dine out on delicious Thai food, go to the cinema for an English-language original, or, at a moment’s notice, take off for a beach weekend. And the Thai people are some of the most welcoming in the world. As expat Godfree Roberts says: “Happiness is a priority. Thais live much more in the moment than we typically do. And it’s to everybody’s benefit. The country’s greatest accomplishment is its sophisticated culture.” And it’s beautiful. Think turquoise seas and white

Mexico

Four of the Best Beaches in Mexico

Narrowing down the best beaches in Mexico is no easy task. With nearly 6,000 miles of coastline, Mexico is home to many gorgeous beaches. But if you ask Mexicophiles which are the best beaches in Mexico, opinions will differ. Beauty, ambience, affordability, and wave quality are all taken into consideration when deciding which beaches in Mexico can be called the best. It all depends what you’re looking for… Here are four very personal choices, in no particular order, and why they make the grade.

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Knights, Truffles, and Bolivar’s Birthday

With summer in full swing, many parts of the world can get hot at this time of year. The Philippines is one of them, with average temperatures pushing above 80 F. So July is a perfect month to get a refreshing splash of water, and the Bocaue River Festival is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Taking place in the municipality of Bocaue on the main island, Luzon, on the first Sunday in July, the festival commemorates the holy cross found in the river around 200 years ago. A pagoda—an ornately decorated barge—is set afloat in the river, accompanied by small boats. Attendees douse themselves with water to mark the occasion.

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Pilgrimage to Ireland’s Holiest Mountain

Every Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, as many as 50,000 pilgrims clamber up Croagh Patrick’s stony slopes to a tiny oratory on the summit. Twenty years on, my feet still remember the day I joined them and reached the top of Ireland’s holiest mountain. Looming 2,507 feet over the coastal village of Murrisk in County Mayo, Croagh Patrick is affectionately known as “the Reek.” Legend tells that after fasting and praying on its summit for 40 days and nights, St. Patrick supposedly cast out Ireland’s snakes from this spot.

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Mystical Halong Bay, a Cliff-Hanger Hotel, & more…

Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular wonders. This 580-square-mile natural cove contains some 2,000 limestone islands—occupied only by trees, ferns, birds, and monkeys. Small floating villages and isolated sandy beaches also entice. The best—and perhaps the only—way to see Halong Bay in its entirety is by boat, or more specifically, by junk. A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing-ship design, and many junks still sail Halong Bay.

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Swim in a Cenote and Dine with the Maya in Mexico’s Yucatán

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula has a lot more to offer visitors than just sun and sand. As well as miles of pristine beaches and Cancún’s modern conveniences, the region is dotted with cenotes (underground lakes formed from limestone sinkholes): portals into the mysterious Maya underworld. This part of Mexico is also home to some of the last remnants of Maya culture in the country. And with the Mayan Nature Experience Cenote Tour, from the Layla Guesthouse in the beach town of Puerto Morelos, you can now experience all of this. This intimate tour yielded memories worth far more than the 900 pesos (about $60 dollars) I paid for it.

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The Easiest Way to Get a Colombian Visa

Applying for a Colombian visa used to be an ordeal. It was difficult to find correct visa information online—particularly on government websites—and even harder to find the needed forms. Today it’s easy, thanks to Colombia’s revamping of its visa and immigration system, complete with modern facilities and up-to-date online information—even in English.

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First-World Comforts in Cebu, the Philippines… “Queen City of the South”

“I’m living the life of a millionaire, even though I’m not earning a lot,” says British expat Johnny of his fantastic new life in the Philippine city of Cebu. “I have the freedom to do everything I want to, because life is so much cheaper here.” And he’s not alone. Johnny is just one of many expats, a growing number of them from the U.S., to find an ideal retirement in Cebu. This modern city boasts a First-World lifestyle at Asian prices—expats live comfortably here for $2,500 a month, all told, and often for much, much less. If I were to call any Philippine city home, this would be it.

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How to Travel the World with an Affordable Roving Retirement

You can travel in style and stay in amazing places (like Tuscany, pictured) when you have the secrets of the roving retirees. © Kre_geg-Istock Traveling the world in retirement was once the sole purview of the rich and famous…but no more. These days, the world is more accessible than ever to everyday people—if you know […]

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Hungry Ghosts, Water Fights and Fun—Southeast Asia’s Top 5 Festivals

I ’d never seen a festival like it in my life, and I’d been living in Southeast Asia for 16 years: the massive procession of people winding its way through the streets, bearing aloft colorful offerings of fruit, flowers, and food, following a glowing chariot to the temple where they unburden themselves. Many of them adorn their bodies with ornate but painful-looking piercings and shave their heads as a sign of devotion.

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Shopping for Profit in Ecuador

Ecuador is a land of rainforests, breathtaking river gorges, and volcanic hot springs, where you can be pampered by affordable spa treatments or simply enjoy the beautiful landscapes. My life has changed over the last 10 years since I discovered how to fund my travels and spend more time there. I feel so fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve logged on my trips.

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City Dining, Beach Chillin’ and More in Costa Rica

Costa Rica can feel like a dream at times…especially the mornings that I wake up to the deep aroma of fresh-roasted coffee, harvested just a few miles from my house…or the days when my weekly errands are put on hold for a stroll on a white-sand beach. Finding adventure is easy here. My boyfriend, Pablo, and I have climbed a volcano in the morning only to be at the beach by afternoon. We’ve dined on world-class seafood prepared by European-trained chefs, but our favorite are meals with the locals where the stars are black beans broiled over an open fire and ripe plantains fried until they’re caramelized.

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Colonial Charm and Adventure in Breathtaking Peru

Peru is so much more than just mystical Macchu Picchu—the land of the Incas has lots to offer and is oozing with culture and adventure. From the ancient Incan cities to the depths of the Amazon rainforest; from over 1,500 miles of undeveloped sandy coastline to the jagged peaks of the Andes, this diverse, exciting and historic country will keep you busy for as long as you have a sense of adventure.

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Mérida, Mexico – The Colonial Gem on the Yucatán Peninsula

On the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula is Mérida. This Mexican town of 1 million hosts the third largest Spanish colonial quarter in the world. And the historic centro is full of centuries-old homes, churches, and public buildings, as well as charming plazas, parks, and squares. Retirees and other expats “discovered” Mérida in the late 1980s and every year more and more North Americans and Europeans make the move, many of them renovating colonial buildings, turning them into private homes, B&Bs, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques.

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My Belize Trip Went to Hell…

It took a trip to hell to show me all the heavenly delights Belize has to offer. It’s probably not the hell you’re thinking of, and I didn’t get there the way folks usually do. This particular hell is Xibalba, the Maya underworld. And I got there on a raft.

My wife, Suzan, and I love scuba diving, and Belize has always been a favorite destination. The second-longest reef on the planet runs along Belize’s Caribbean coast, and the diving is world class.

France

An Unspoiled Medieval Wonder in the South of France

Whenever anyone asks me to name my favorite part of France, my immediate response is always the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France. Whenever people ask me why, my answer always comes a bit slower. Images of vast blue sky, scrubby foothills with strange flat plateaus, deep red earth, and tidy rows of vineyard […]

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Where the Wild Flamingos Roam in France

When visiting the charming university town of Montpellier, it’s tempting to spend all your time exploring the medieval city center, Ecusson. There’s good reason for that, of course. Ecusson’s winding cobblestone streets offer enchanting attractions—boutiques, artesian workshops, leafy squares—at every turn. But there’s so much more to see in Montpellier than its historic heart.

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Europe’s Top 5 Affordable Retirement Havens

Not surprisingly, Europe delivers strongly on healthcare; in each of our five picks, you’ll find healthcare professionals and facilities of a world-class standard. But perhaps more surprisingly, the care on offer in these countries won’t leave you counting pennies. Many of these nations benefit from universal coverage and strong public healthcare systems, and even their private healthcare can be accessed for a sliver of the cost in the U.S. Doctors’ visits, for instance, can run well under $100, and other services are similarly reasonable.

Esterillos

A Laidback Community in the Heart of Costa Rica’s Central Pacific

On a quiet stretch of Costa Rica’s Central Pacific you’ll find a low-key beach community. It’s been a fishing village for decades—the fishermen still go out every morning. It’s called Esterillos and if you’re looking for laidback life with a rural feel, it could be your perfect spot.

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