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

Orosi

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.

otavalo

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.

Arenal

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.

peru

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.

Merida

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.

caye-culker

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 […]

montpellier

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.

valencia

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.

Don’t Postpone Finding Freedom Overseas

For too many of us, daily life means paying mounting bills, commuting to work, staying there far longer than is healthy, and worrying about…well…everything. It’s what folks call the rat race. The futile grind. It’s stressful, it’s bad for your health, and it feels like it will never end. But freeing yourself from it is easier than you think. In this issue of International Living we hear from expats who have already escaped and taken advantage of low costs overseas to free themselves. They are living in beautiful locations around the world, enjoying lives that are a far cry from their experiences back in the States.

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Shamanic Rituals and Ancient Theater

Renowned for its beaches and culture, the Indonesian island of Bali plays host to the annual Bali Arts Festival from June 13. This celebration of traditional art and dance includes tribal dress—resplendent golden headgear, vibrantly-colored saris, and ornate tribal masks—and traditional dance unlikely to be seen anywhere outside the remote villages where it originated. A terrific way to immerse yourself in the unique traditions of the Eastern world while soaking up some glorious rays.

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Giants Beneath the Bridge

Looking at the lofty, snow-capped peaks, it’s not hard to see how tales of the huldufólk, the “hidden people” of ancient lore, came to be. This is Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, abounding with the kind of awe-inspiring mountain scenery that this island nation is renowned for.

©iStock/IvanMateev

Rio for Free, Own Your Own Elephant & More…

Ever wonder what it would be like to work with elephants for a day in the jungles of northern Thailand? At the Patara Elephant Camp, you can. Not all elephant camps are created equal but this is one of the highest on the list when it comes to ethics and dedicated mahouts (elephant handlers).

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Explore Buenos Aires’ Vibrant Graffiti

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city chock-a-block with visual delights. From sultry tango dancers in the streets to impressive French architecture and monuments, stylish street cafés, and street ferias (fairs) enlivened by entertainers, arts and crafts.

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How to Fly Your Pets to Ecuador

So you’ve decided to move to Ecuador. You’ve done your research and know just the town to begin your adventure. You’ve got your documents sorted for getting a residence visa. You’ve even gone through the house and decided what will go with you and what will stay or be sold. But what about your beloved family pet? Just how do you bring Fido or Kitty into Ecuador from the United States or Canada? This is a concern for many aspiring expats. As it turns out, it’s really not all that difficult.

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The Maltese Islands: Year-Round Sun and Affordable Living

When I think about my time on Malta, I think of bright blue skies, fields of richly green clover, the sound of the ocean smashing against the cliffs, all only steps away from the well-worn stone streets of ancient cities and the chatty and perpetually kind people. And all of it—cities, coastal walks—warmed and cheered by the seemingly endless sunshine, even at the height of winter.

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Savor World-Class Beaches and Fine Dining in Las Terrenas

The Dominican Republic, with its pristine tropical beaches, attracts more vacationers than any other Caribbean island. Most stay at all-inclusive resorts, where you can eat from the buffet and let the staff pamper you. But maybe you’re after a more authentic Caribbean experience…a chance to sample this region’s many delights away from the tourist throngs. If so, Las Terrenas is the perfect place for you. Famous for its 11 miles of world-class beaches, Las Terrenas is on the north shore of the lush and mountainous Samaná Peninsula.

Costa-Rica

Paradise Within Your Reach…

When it comes to a perfect retirement haven close to home, the small Latin American country of Costa Rica ticks all the boxes. Less than three hours from Miami by plane, it’s easy to access, with numerous direct flights connecting Costa Rica to the U.S. and Canada. The weather is excellent throughout, and despite its small size, there’s a climate in Costa Rica for everyone. It’s the happiest place in the world, according to the Happy Planet Index, and also one of the healthiest, with plentiful clean water and fresh air. The World Healthcare Organization lavishes praise on Costa Rica’s healthcare system, which it ranks higher than that of the U.S.

fiji

Magical Ireland, Sunny Fiji…Your Camera Makes it Possible

As a travel photographer, I stayed for free in a vacation rental, a charming little authentic cottage tucked away in the lush green countryside. I photographed the cottage and interesting things one might see and do, both in the immediate area of County Limerick and as far away as Dublin, for the same publication.

placenia-2

Retire to a Haven Made for Hammocks in Placencia, Belize

It’s ideal weather in Belize right now for lounging in a beach hammock, under a palm tree, as the emerald green and turquoise shaded waves gently lap up on the warm, golden sand beach… What could be better than sipping a frosty refreshment while gazing out at a tranquil seascape?

galapagos-cliffs

Free Spirits Need an Income Like This

It’s been a long time now since I transitioned from a traditional job to a footloose and fancy-free photographer but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Location independent income has become a mandatory part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Matagalpa

Retire 10 Years Early to Matagalpa, Nicaragua

There are a lot of people in the States today who think they’ll never have enough money to retire comfortably. But there are places overseas where you can still own your own property outright…where world-class healthcare won’t send you to the poorhouse…where the cost of living is much lower than back home. I was able to retire 11 years early by moving to Nicaragua.

Paris

Paris: One of the Easiest Places to Be an Expat

In November, I was in Paris—just the latest in a long line of visits. My first night of that trip, I was invited to an international Thanksgiving celebration. The hostess, an American expat who has been in that city for many years, had made turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and had invited her international friends to join her for a celebration of gratitude. The room was full of people from all over the world—Parisians, of course, but also Australians and Venezuelans and Italians and Portuguese. The hum of languages was beautiful and unusual. And the joy of the gathering was universal.

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7 Fun Activities for Tourists in Buenos Aires

The stunning architecture, broad boulevards and inviting sidewalk cafés you’ll find in Buenos Aires remind me of days spent wandering neighborhoods in Paris. Of course, the Italian influence is equally apparent–from the faces of the porteños (Buenos Aires natives), to their expressive hand signals, and abundant espresso, gelato, and pizza joints. In fact, two-thirds of Argentines are of Italian descent.

Mexico

A Travel Income that Pays While You Sleep

Tim Leffel and his family live among the cobblestone avenues, pastel-colored colonial buildings, and leafy plazas of Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s prettiest towns. “I really love the pace of life, the emphasis on family and fun rather than wearing ‘busy-ness’ as a badge of honor,” he says. “Since Mexican cities are geared to pedestrians and people are always out and about on foot, we don’t need a car and all the related expenses. Since healthcare costs are reasonable, there’s no fear of a doctor’s visit costing more than a car payment either.”

costa-rica

Freedom, Travel, and a Six-Figure Income

A decade ago, I had no idea this type of freedom was possible… I thought I’d spend the rest of my career working for an employer, getting 3% raises each year, hoping for a tiny holiday bonus. I thought I’d be chained to a single location, traveling only during my vacation days. But thanks to the power of the internet, which creates the opportunity to embrace location-independent jobs like blogging, I’m now able to go anywhere I want, anytime I want, for as long as I want.

Langkawi

Langkawi: Tranquility and Wildlife Off the Coast of Malaysia

The vibe of Langkawi, also known as the Jewel of Kedah, is one of a laidback island. If it’s beaches and wildlife that you’re after, Langkawi is probably the Malaysian Island to head to—and Malaysia does have a few to choose from.

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Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you'll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

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