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How to Find Work Abroad
Sometimes, the travel bug bites and you simply want to take off and wander or live in another part of the world. You’ll still have to eat and take care of yourself, so you’ll need to find a job overseas. Listed below are ways you can find work abroad.
Ask Your Office for a Transfer
If you work for a company that has offices in other parts of the world, find out where those offices are and see if there’s one that appeals to you. Once you find one, reach out to department heads and your human resources department to find out if the company offers transfer opportunities. If so, find out if your position can be transferred, and what steps you’ll need to take to make that happen. Before you know it, you could be on your way.
Find a Job Teaching English
One of the easiest and most popular jobs for people looking to work overseas is teaching English. This could involve teaching English to children or adults, and the jobs are usually located in countries where the cost of living is really low compared to the U.S. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to speak the local language, as many of the English-teaching programs are set up so that even people who don’t speak the native language of a country are able to teach its citizens how to speak English. They’re more concerned with helping people learn Western English.
Do Virtual/Freelance Work
Thanks to the virtual and digital nature of so many jobs today, it has become much easier to do remote or virtual work while living overseas. This could involve anything from writing and coding to practicing psychotherapy. In many cases, all you need is a Wi-Fi connection in order to get up and running. This option is especially good for people who are looking to live in areas where there’s a lower cost of living, yet still retain their current remote working status.
Check Out Moving Abroad Forums and Websites
Many people have the same ideas you do when it comes to living and working overseas. These people often visit forums and websites dedicated to advice about overseas work. Sites like Lonely Planet and expat forms are filled with people who are looking for different ways to live out their travel dreams. The good thing about following these forums is that you’ll be able to learn from other people’s good choices and bad choices.
Check the Visa Requirements of the Countries You’re Interested In
Before you buy your ticket, make sure you understand the travel and work visa requirements of the country that you’re interested in working in. Some countries have very lenient visa requirements and rules, while others have extremely strict requirements that can get you thrown out for a single infraction. People from overseas who want to work in USA companies have to jump through a lot of hoops. Make sure you have all your paperwork in order so that you don’t get an unpleasant surprise after landing in the country of your choice.
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Essential Tips for Finding the Best River Cruise Deals
Traveling is always a fun experience, whether it be a short road trip or touring around a foreign country. So why not change it up this vacation and go for a luxurious river cruise? Great deals can be found for river cruises in the US and abroad. Before booking your cruise you need to determine where you want to go, what you want to do, and where to score the best deals.
What to Look for When Booking a River Cruise
When looking through the variety of river cruises available you want opt for a cruise that will give you something worth seeing and some fun activities ashore too. Many first-time river cruisers tend to travel abroad to Europe. Europe often offers fairly inexpensive river cruises with the bonus of seeing many of Europe’s beautiful tourist destinations.
When looking through the various specifics you will need to pay attention to what is covered by the price. Some cruise lines have become all-inclusive. Other cruises, however, do not include all extras in their fares, including alcohol, port charges and tips.
Timing is everything. Plan and book in advance to get a great deal. Some experts recommend booking as early as 12 months ahead for peak vacation seasons and booking nine to 12 months ahead for the off-season.
Are you going solo or traveling with a large group of friends? This can also affect the cost of your cruise. Many discounts are given to large groups of at least eight to ten people. Solo cruisers may be charged more due to taking a room meant for two people.
If you have children, you want to look for cruises that are child-friendly. Some cruises have strict age restrictions. Another point to be aware of is the potential lack of child-friendly facilities, due to the smaller size of river cruise ships.
Preparing for Your Cruise
Make sure you have travel insurance. Many European countries require tourists to have travel insurance before entering the country. It is wise to have this insurance in case of any accidents or medical emergencies while embarking.
Double check your documentation and itinerary. Make sure everything is in order and matches your identification card and/or passport. It also helps to recheck these documents so that you don’t forget to pack them. Make sure you also have required visas should you choose to travel to a country that requires them.
Get some local currency if traveling abroad. You will need to have local currency for where you are going if you wish to buy anything while there. When planning for your river cruise make sure to take foreign currency rates into account because they often change daily.
Research your travel destination thoroughly. You will want to know the various details about the place you are going so that you can navigate accordingly. Some foreign countries have different cultural norms than the US. Other factors to consider are the current political and social climate in case of a potential threat. You will want to know how to get to the US embassy and/or have access to a translator if you do not speak the local language.
Make sure you have all necessary flights booked in advance. Another policy of many European countries is having an exit flight, bus, or train ticket since you only get up to 90 days per stay in that country.
Be sure to pack light and take only what you need for the destination you are planning to visit. Having a comfortable pair of shoes will definitely come in handy. If you choose to travel abroad, make sure you have a power converter and power strip since some cruise liners only have European power outlets.
Top 5 Best River Cruise Deals in the US
Many people in the US don’t have a passport, but they still want a great cruise experience. Don’t worry, the US offers some beautiful river cruises that allow you to gaze at America’s beauty and all the history in between.
1.) Mississippi River cruise: There are many types of river cruises going up and down the Mississippi River that you can choose from, depending on what part of the river you want to see.
2.) St. Lawrence River cruise: This cruise will allow you to see the beautiful cities of Canada such as Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, 1000 islands and Quebec city.
3.) Southeast Alaska river cruise: If you want to experience the breathtaking Northwest of the US, you can never go wrong with this eight-day river cruise.
4.) Historic South and Golden Isles cruise: For those with a passion for the South and all of its rich history you can always try this nice river cruise to test your knowledge.
5.) American Revolution river cruise: For those who want to see some of the U.S.’s beautiful monuments, get a lesson about the U.S.’s beginnings and enjoy the scenic Chesapeake bay all in one, you can always try this wonderful river cruise option.
European River Cruises
When choosing to travel abroad you can never go wrong with a European river cruise. Many popular liners have great European cruise ratings. One great company that offers inexpensive river cruises is Gate 1. Gate 1 River Cruises offers a variety of river cruises for multiple destinations depending on the time of year. They offer many European destinations for most of the year and river cruises in Thailand and China as well.
A popular European river cruise is going down the Danube River. This cruise allows you to see the beautiful Eastern European countries of Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, and also the Western European countries of Austria and Germany.
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11 Dream International Vacations That Are Surprisingly Affordable
From Vietnam to Armenia, here’s where you can get the most bang for your buck.
As the world becomes more connected by air travel, international vacations are increasingly affordable — but you have to know where to look and when to book. Typically, if you're hoping to save money, you should plan your trip around a destination's off-season. As a bonus, you're bound to have a better travel experience when you don't have to jostle your way through crowds to get to the top attractions.
Whether you're dreaming of a vacation as far from the U.S. as Australia or as close as Toronto, the actual cost could surprise you (in a good way). Using data from the booking platform Kayak , we've compiled a list of 11 international destinations where your dollar will go the furthest, plus when to book for the cheapest airfare and accommodation.
Just north of the U.S. border is a growing city bursting with culture, a diverse culinary scene, and activities catering to a range of age groups and interests. Often mistaken for the Canadian capital, Toronto is sometimes known as "Hollywood North" for its wealth of celebrity residents. Foodies will want to make stops in Little Italy, one of several Chinatowns, and Little Portugal for a gastronomic jaunt around the world. Tourists may also be inclined to catch a hockey game, sample craft beer, and take a trip to the famous CN Tower to get unmatched views of the city.
Kayak data indicates that Toronto's low season runs from October to March, with the exception of December because of holiday travel. The cheapest flights can be found for about $180 from New York's JFK Airport in October. A direct flight from JFK to Toronto takes less than two hours.
Hotels downtown seem to be cheapest in January and February, when you can expect to pay as little as $33 per night for three-star accommodation. They're most expensive in September, going for an average of $371 per night.
Grand Est, France
The area formerly known as Alsace (now officially part of the larger Grand Est region) is beloved by French travelers. It doesn't attract nearly as many visitors as Paris or the Cote d'Azur, so you'll get a quieter experience. Kaysersberg, once featured on the TV program Le Village Préféré des Français as the French's favorite village, exemplifies many of the characteristics that have endeared Alsace to locals. It's got architecture that dates back to the 13th century, world-renowned wine cellars, and hearty Alsatian cuisine.
Fly to Strasbourg, the capital of Grand Est, in February or March for the best price. From New York City, round-trip flights can be found for less than $700, and you can stay in a three-star hotel for as low as $89 per night in the off-season. Kayak says the cheapest months for accommodation in Grand Est are August (an anomaly) and October.
Armenia attracts tourists with its rich arts scene, upscale shopping, and history museums packed with treasures. Though the capital, Yerevan, is a popular destination, no trip to this Asian country is complete without stepping into the gorgeous and rugged countryside. Head out to Khor Virap, a monastery first established during the 600s, for mountainside views and ancient architecture about 45 minutes away from Yerevan. It's worth the additional hour it takes to drive out to Garni Gorge, topped by a Roman temple, along the way.
Winter is Armenia's low season. The cheapest month to fly from NYC to Yerevan is November ($838 for a round trip, on average), though flights from January through March aren't much more expensive. Three-star hotels average $90 per night in January, the cheapest month for accommodation.
The capital of Queensland on Australia 's east coast is arguably the country's design capital. Drop by the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (colloquially called QAGOMA , one entity) or the Institute of Modern Art ( IMA ) to get a sense of Asian-Pacific art. Go shopping in the Fortitude Valley district, where you'll be able to pick up pieces from local and international designers. And, of course, because it's Australia, it's easy to get in touch with the local wildlife. Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary , just about 20 minutes from the city, to hang out with more than 100 critters (not just koalas, either).
In general, Australia doesn't exactly fit the bill of "budget travel" for Americans, considering the absolute cheapest round-trip flight from NYC to Brisbane on Kayak costs almost $1,000. However, relative to other Australian destinations, this waterfront city is one of the more affordable entry points. The cheapest month to book a flight to Brisbane is September, the first month of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Three-star hotel stays average in the $150 range from April through July, then spike in August.
It's been 600 years since the discovery of Madeira , and the Portuguese archipelago is still astounding visitors with its natural beauty. Trek along miles of rugged coast to see the Atlantic at its most paradisiacal. The capital of Funchal is home to a number of hotels offering glamour, glitz, and stiff cocktails. Speaking of drinks — be sure to check out the famous fortified wine named after the island where it was made.
Typically, a round-trip flight from NYC to Funchal will set you back anywhere from $650 to $1,100, with the lowest prices offered November and January to May. Hotel prices fluctuate on a similar schedule and range from about $150 to $330 per night for a three-star property.
If you're looking for a cheaper Mediterranean vacation , hop to the south side and try out Tunisia. The country has history (with a Roman colosseum — the Amphitheatre of El Jem — some say is even better than Rome's), miles of beautiful, sandy beaches, and bazaars with carpets, ceramics, and metalwork.
Kayak data indicates that the cheapest time to fly from NYC to Tunis , Tunisia's capital, is November (about $560), then September to October and January to May ($608 to $768). Prices for a night in a three-star Tunis hotel range from around $100 to $200, with the cheapest months on Kayak being September and December through March.
Budapest gets the majority of Hungary's visitors, but if you want to delve deeper into the country's culture, drive 18 miles west of the capital to Etyek, often called the "vineyards of Budapest." This area has been producing grapes since the 18th century and has been likened to Champagne for its excellence of crisp wines like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. The town is also a pilgrimage for film buffs, with huge movies like "Blade Runner 2049" and "The Martian" having been shot there.
Etyek is about a 30-minute drive from Budapest. September through November and January through April are the cheapest times to fly to the Hungarian capital from NYC, according to Kayak data . Outside of the busy summer season, round-trip flights can be found for $524 to $620.
While September is a cheap time to fly to Hungary, it happens to be the most expensive month for accommodation. Book your trip in January, February, or March to snag a three-star hotel for $160 a night or less.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
That St. Vincent and the Grenadines were the last of the British colonies in the Caribbean to gain their independence (only in 1979) could be a reason why the islands have lagged behind other big players in drawing tourists. The upside of that, however, is the lack of crowds at beaches and on trails leading through lush rainforest to dormant volcanoes.
Visitors will fly into St. Vincent's Argyle International Airport, open only since 2017, and ferry over to the smaller islands of the Grenadines. The route is run several times a day from Kingstown.
Round-trip flights from NYC can be found for under $600 in March, May, and November. Hotels on St. Vincent remain surprisingly cheap throughout the year, showing the same sporadicity as flight prices. Go in January, May, June, August, or December for average nightly prices under $200 for three-star properties. The cheapest month for accommodation is December, when you can find a good hotel for about $50 a night.
Panama City, Panama
Meander through Panama City's old quarter where Spanish-style houses line cobblestone streets. Eat your way through Panamanian cuisine — yuca, plantains, empanadas, sancocho de gallina (chicken stew), and fish soup are among the most-loved dishes — and then top it all off with a tour of the city's thriving cocktail scene. The rainforest is easily accessible from Panama City if you're eager to swap the urban jungle for real jungle scenery.
Even though Panama is located in the Northern Hemisphere, its seasons — of which there are only two — are opposite of the U.S.'s. "Winter" (aka the wet season) lasts from around May to December and "summer" (the dry season) lasts from December to May. It's cheaper to go during the wet season, when the climate is least comfortable.
Prices for a round-trip flight from NYC to Panama City's Tocumen International Airport range from $339 to $659, with the cheapest times being April to June and September to October. The most expensive flights are in December. You can often stay in a three-star property for under $130 per night if you go between June and September.
Nicholas Schmidt/Travel + Leisure
Guatemala is consistently ranked a Travel + Leisure reader favorite for its combination of natural beauty and historic wonders. Visitors can wander through ancient Mayan ruins, hike the mountains and jungles, or explore the historic streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua. Guatemala also boasts a thriving arts scene, perfectly preserved Spanish architecture, and unique cuisine like chuchitos (Guatemala-style tamales).
Book a trip for May or September for the cheapest flights ($269 to $344) on Kayak . Three-star hotels during that time should cost in the $120- to $140-per night range, while stays during August — the cheapest month for accommodation — cost, on average, $108 nightly.
You get a little bit of everything from a trip to Hanoi: vibrant culture, thousand-year-old history, a food scene that spans world-famous street carts to Michelin-starred restaurants, and a touch of jungle evidently seeping from the outskirts into the city. With $1 USD converting to about 25,000 Vietnamese dong, roughly the cost of a delicious banh mi , you should find it easy to stick to your budget and still live indulgently in this bustling capital.
Round-trip flights from NYC to Hanoi cost about $870 at their cheapest, from September through November, which is Vietnam's transitional period from the hot and humid wet season to the dry (and touristy) season. During this time, three-star properties go for about $125 to $150 a night.
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15 Easy International Travel Destinations For Your Next Vacation
While some people are willing to travel anywhere in the world, many would-be travelers aren’t so willing. I’ve always been an adventurous traveler, but the rest of my family doesn’t share my excitement.
When it comes to traveling, they worry about how difficult it may be to get there and how hard it will be to get around with the language barrier and unfamiliar customs. These fears keep them from going anywhere other than Hawaii for vacation.
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Why Try an “Easy” Destination
These are all legitimate concerns, but there are plenty of locations outside the U.S. where none of these concerns apply.
I mean, let’s face it, my parents aren’t going to be convinced to travel to far away countries like India or Japan , but I do think they can be convinced to travel outside the country if the location is close to home and easy to navigate.
If you’re been avoiding vacationing outside the U.S. due to travel fear, consider one of the easy International travel destinations listed here for your next trip. And if you’re willing to travel a bit farther than 5-6 hours, a whole other set of possibilities open up for leery travelers like my parents.
The criteria used to select these locations was:
- Easy to get to (no more than a 6-7 hour, direct flight from most major cities)
- English is the primary language used at the destination (on a resort, especially — everyone will speak English)
- A lot of planning and organizing is not required. In fact, at the beach locations you can sit back and relax and never leave the resort if you don’t wish to.
- Customs and practices are very similar to the U.S. so you won’t feel out of place or nervous.
15 Easy International Vacation Ideas
1. cancun, mexico.
Cancun is the #1 travel destination for U.S. travelers abroad. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, all of which also make it a very easy place to visit. It’s close, so the flights are short and often cheap — good deals crop up regularly to Cancun.
It can be an enticing vacation option because of the alluring clear, blue waters and year-round warm weather. While we love that about Cancun, we also love all the incredible outdoor activities, day trips, and tours in the region.
Amazing all-inclusive resorts line the stretch of white sandy beach, and stretch down the coast into the Mayan Riviera . You might need to be a bit careful while traveling around the area (I wouldn’t recommend renting a car and trying to get around on your own).
There are plenty of reputable companies that will cart you around to see the archeological sites and to take a dunk in a cenote — which was one of the most amazing things I’ve done on any vacation. You can also get a real taste for the Mexican culture outside of the resorts in Cancun, if you want to.
Try one of these tours:
- Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
- Reef and Shipwreck Snorkeling Tour in Cancun
- 3-in-1 Street Food Tour with transportation (food stalls + local market+ murals)
2. Puerto Rico
Technically, it’s a U.S. territory, not another country, but that just makes it even easier. San Juan , the main city, with its cobblestone streets and vibrant nightlife, has a laidback feeling that contributes to a relaxing vacation, and golden-sand beaches are not far away.
While you’re there, why not learn how to salsa dance? It’s a highly popular activity, with many nightclubs hosting dedicated salsa nights. Take a walk through the cobbled streets of Old San Juan and explore its colonial architecture, vibrant art, and delicious food. Explore El Yunque National Forest , one of the most lush tropical rainforests in all of Puerto Rico! This stunning park features waterfalls, trails, and plenty of wildlife to take in.
Tour one of the island’s 3 rum distilleries. Casa Bacardi offers three tour options to choose from. Sip your welcome cocktail while you decide between the founder’s experience, the legacy tour, rum tasting tour, and the mixology class.
There are dozens of comfortable resorts in the city and directly on the beach that will cater to all your vacation needs and make sure you feel right at home. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is what cocktail to order.
- Flavors of San Juan Food Tour
- Puerto Rico Guided Adventure in El Yunque Rainforest
- Old San Juan City Walking Tour
3. Toronto, Canada
A very modern city along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is the fifth-largest city in North America and feels quite a bit like New York or Chicago. If you enjoy city life — bustling markets, a vibrant restaurant scene and world-class museums — this is a great, and easy destination to enjoy without the hassle of language issues.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has an impressive display of meteorites, including three from Mars. Another must-see attraction is the Distillery Historic District, a pedestrian-only neighborhood that once housed the largest distillery in Canada dating back to the 1830s. Many tourists and locals have reported ghost sightings in the area.
For the best views of Toronto, head to the CN Tower, the tallest building in the city at 1,815 feet tall. Thrill-seekers can experience the EdgeWalk , the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk around the tower. Hockey fans won’t want to miss the Hockey Hall of Fame , where they can even practice their slapshot on an immersive model rink complete with virtual goalies.
Getting to Toronto, Canada from the United States is easy, as there are direct flights from key destinations, with just one stop-over from secondary markets. The flight is just 6 hours from Portland, Oregon , and an hour and a half from New York .
- Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto
- Toronto walking tasting tour with Secret Food Tours
- Show me the City! Toronto Walking Tour
4. Dominican Republic
There are a couple of great beaches in Dominican Republic — Punta Cana and Santa Domingo — where both European and U.S. travelers flock to relax in the sun. It’s easy to get to — a quick flight from Miami — can be inexpensive and provides luxury resort accommodations with all-inclusive options.
While the resort offers plenty of entertainment, there’s also a lot to explore in the surrounding areas. Take a leisurely stroll through the charming town of Santa Domingo , once the capital of the Hispanic Americas. The Museum of the Royal Houses is a treasure trove of cultural history. Don’t miss Los Tres Ojos National Park, an impressive limestone cave system with crystal-clear water.
Experience over 40 miles of uninterrupted beach views along the Costa del Coco (Coconut Beach), or venture to Cap Cana to witness the natural beauty of Hoyo Azul . Take a dip in the 45 ft deep cenote full of turquoise spring water, located inside Scape Park which offers unique adventures such as ziplining, snorkeling, and splash hammocks.
- Look for hotels in Punta Cana
- Look for hotels in Santo Domingo
- Small Group: Saona Island Full Day Tour
- 4×4 Dominican Adventure with Chocolate and Coffee Tasting from Punta Cana
- Small-Group Cruising and Snorkeling Catamaran Tour
5. Grand Cayman Island
Miles of pristine beaches and an impressive food scene make Grand Cayman a great location for relaxation and indulgence. The island is only 22 miles long, so you can easily drive from Seven Mile Beach on the west side of the island to the East End on a day trip.
I hesitated to add Grand Cayman to the list because they drive on the left and that can be intimidating to some travelers, but you don’t have to drive in order to get around the island.
Visit the Cayman Turtle Centre where you can experience turtles up close and the islands ecosystem. While away the entire afternoon watching shark feedings, splash around with green sea turtles, and hike the Blue Hole Nature Trail.
Visit and tour the Cayman Spirits Co. which is the only distillery on the island. Scuba divers, beginners and veterans, will delight in the Kittiwake shipwreck and artificial reef. Explore the US Navy submarine that has been turned into an artificial reef for a variety of sea life.
There are also a number of great resorts where you can hang out for a week without ever needing to leave. Just choose a hotel on Seven Mile Beach and you’ll have everything you need within walking distance or rent a bicycle and see the sights.
» Look for hotels in Grand Cayman
- Starfish Point, Stingray City and Coral Garden (3-Stop Adventure)
- Small Group E-Bike Grand Cayman Ecological Half-Day Tour
6. Luxury Barge Cruising in France
If you’ve never looking into barge cruising before, you absolutely should. One the list of easy travel experiences, taking a barge cruise is perhaps one of the easiest there is. Not only is the entire itinerary planned out for you, you will also have a driver and tour guide with you at all times.
So even in France , where the language and customs might be a bit different than the U.S., you don’t have to worry about it for a second. You will always have an English-speaking guide with you.
A luxury barge cruise is one of the best ways to have a completely relaxing vacation. The boat meanders slowly down the canal, passing through some of the most beautiful and lush countryside. You stop every day for excursions to nearby vineyards and museums.
All of your meals are prepared and served for you by a professional chef. You can take leisurely walks or bike rides down the canal, alongside the boat. Or you can just sit back and watch the scenery pass by.
Check out European Waterways – they’re the best! You can also read the full review of our barge journey through Burgundy, France.
Absolutely packed full of a natural wonders and stunning beauty, Iceland is a perfect destination for leery travelers. The tour companies have worked out a brilliant system where you can sign up for everything you want to do all in one place. With so much to see check out our 7-day Iceland Itinerary and 12 Incredible Things to do & See in Iceland.
The Golden Circle tour is a highly scenic drive with many photo-ops. Stop at the Kerid Crater, where you’ll view a volcanic crater lake, the stunning Gullfoss Waterfall, and see the spouting hot springs in the Geysir area. The last stop is the historic Thingvellir National Park, where you can walk through and see the stunning geology of Iceland .
A stop at the Blue Lagoon , a geothermal spa in Iceland is a popular place to stop for a long soak in the warm waters. It is a man-made “hot spring” tucked among the low hills near Grindavík, just 20 minutes southeast of the airport.
A Northern Lights tour is a must while you are there. The best time to see them is in the winter. These tours go from September 1st and April 15th.
You can book round-trip airport transfers, and most of these tours you can do all with one company, you’ll pay just once and have all of the details of your excursions taken care of by one tour company. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
While Icelandic is the main language, English is spoken everywhere in Reykjavik and where ever tourists might be found. If you are a foodie or just love to travel for food make sure to check out our guide on where to eat in Reykjavik and what to order.
- Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon Including Admission & Kerid Volcanic Crater
- Reykjavik Food Walk – Local Foodie Adventure in Iceland
- Ice Cave by Katla Volcano Super Jeep Tour from Vik
- #1 Northern Lights tour in Iceland from Reykjavik with PRO photos
One of the easiest countries to travel around is Ireland . Most tourists take advantage of the beautiful countryside by renting a car and driving from place to place. Start out by flying into Dublin and spending a few day seeing the city and trying to Irish food.
Then take a car around to the west side of the country, which they have dubbed the Wild Atlantic Way . This includes many of the most popular areas of Ireland to explore, like Donagal, counties Clare, Galway and Kerry. Here are 13 amazing Ireland road trips you’ll love.
Some of our favorite areas to explore are part of Ireland’s Ancient East, which includes Tipperary and the adorable town of Kilkenny , plus Kildare. While you are there stay in one of these fairy tale castles.
English is the official language in Ireland. The roads are a bit narrow in places, but well marked, and most hotels offer free parking. It’s very easy to drive around , with the exception of driving on the left. Also be sure to note that you MUST add the extra insurance to any car rental in Ireland. It’s mandatory.
- Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin
- Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin
- Fast-track Easy Access Book of Kells Tour with Dublin Castle
- Irish Food Trail – Walking Tour of Dublin
- Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough and Kilkenny Day Tour from Dublin
Aside from the sometimes hard-to-understand accent, a trip to Scotland is like visiting an unspoiled, natural paradise. Most travelers start in Edinburgh or Glasgow and then start driving north into the wild and beautiful countryside.
To see what you’re missing in Scotland, check out our guides to Edinburgh where you should plan to visit the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the British royal family. Scotch whisky is Scotland’s national drink so you may want to take a tour or two on the Scotch Whisky Trail , and explore the lovely area of Fife while visiting St. Andrews and see the ruins at Inchcolm Island . There is incredible food in that area, and it’s definitely fit for foodies .
We also highly recommend visiting some of the isles, like Isle of Skye and Islay (particularly if you’re a fan of peaty whisky!).
See our 7-day itineraries that are perfect for exploring the west of Scotland and the east of Scotland and the hotels to look out for .
- Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Castle Tour: Fast-Track Guided Tour in English
- Hogwarts Express and the Scenic Highlands Day Tour from Inverness
- St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
- The Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness
10. New Zealand
In New Zealand , you can rent a car and travel throughout either the North or South Island easily. A quick flight between the two Islands will likely be needed though, due to distance, unless you have at least two weeks and don’t mind lots of driving.
We spent some time in Auckland, with amazing wine tasting on Waiheke Island , before heading to the fun and quirky Rotorua area. You might also want to visit Hobbiton, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, and the nearby glowworm caves . Here’s our 7-day itinerary for the North Island, which is a very nice trip, and easy to do.
You might also want to check out our post with 9 romantic destinations to visit in New Zealand.
- Hobbiton™ Movie Set 2-Hour Walking Tour from Shires Rest
- Cruise Milford NZ Small Boutique Cruise Experience
- Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua
In Australia , though you can drive from town to town, getting between the bigger cities will require flights. It’s one VERY large country. You can visit Sydney , which is bustling with things to do like great beaches and cafes, or spend some time in the wine country of South Australia ( Barossa , McLaren Vale and Adelaide ), our personal favorite.
We also really enjoyed Melbourne and the Yarra Valley wine region just an hour away. Of course, you can also arrange a tour to the outback or the Great Barrier Reef, if you want to see something completely unique to Australia. Consider taking a look at some of the Australia’s most scenic road trips to see what is off the beaten path .
For travelers, Victoria is quite accommodating, offering numerous outdoor activities, wineries to visit, and open roads to explore. While you’ll likely want to base yourself out of Melbourne, be prepared for a bit of driving. The sun-soaked beach town of Byron Bay is worth a visit for it’s friendly people, arty culture, and awe-inspiring nature.
English is the official language of Australia and the people are very nice and accommodating. Enjoy one or all of these classic Australian dishes while you are there.
- Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise from Cairns
- Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
- All Inclusive Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney with Scenic World
- Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles Day Trip from Melbourne
12. London, England
Another great place to vacation with ease is London and the surrounding English countryside. Since England speaks English and has many of the same customs as the U.S, it’s an easy travel destination that won’t put you too far outside your comfort zone.
There are tons of great things to do in London so you won’t even have to leave the city if you don’t want to drive on the left. If you love food, be sure to check out London’s food markets , especially our favorite Borough Market . Here are all the top iconic landmarks to check out, and a guide to see all the top sights along the Thames in one day.
There are also great train systems that can take you to places like Stonehenge , Windsor , Bath , and even the Harry Potter Studio Tour outside of London without having to get in a car.
With so many diverse and unique neighborhoods we suggest staying in different areas of London while you visit. There are fun and unique dining opportunities in London you can even have dinner on a double decker bus , which we highly recommend.
- Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London
- Downton Abbey Village, Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds Day Trip from London
- The Tower of London – Small Group Tour with a local expert
- Original Harry Potter Locations Tour – London
- Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath with Pub Lunch in Lacock
13. Madeira, Portugal
Madeira, Portugal is a stunning island located in the Atlantic Ocean known for its lush forests, beautiful beaches , and incredible hiking trails. There are plenty of activities to enjoy while visiting this paradise, from exploring the charming city of Funchal to taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of Porto Santo Beach. One must-try activity while visiting Madeira is to take a cable car ride up to Monte, which offers breathtaking views of the city and at the top visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, which is home to an impressive collection of exotic plants and waterfalls.
Another must-do activity while in Madeira is to take a Levada walk. Levadas are man-made irrigation channels that run along the mountainside and are surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. One of the most popular Levada walks is the 25 Fontes Walk, which leads you to a stunning waterfall and natural pool. There are plenty of activities you keep you busy.
Finally, no trip to Madeira would be complete without trying the local food and wine. Madeira is known for its unique cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Portuguese and African flavors. Be sure to pair your meal with a glass of Madeira wine , which is produced on the island and has been famous for centuries. Whether you prefer a dry or sweet wine, there is a Madeira wine for everyone to enjoy.
- Around The Island – Two Days Tour From 9am to 5pm (each Day)
- Madeira Dolphin and Whale Watching on a Ecological Catamaran
- Madeira Best of the West Day Tour
- Porto Moniz – Enchanted Terraces: Open 4×4 Full Day Tour
14. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium, is a beautiful and charming city known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and canals. There is no shortage of things to do while visiting this picturesque city. One of the must-see attractions in Bruges is the Belfry of Bruges, which offers stunning views of the city from its top. You can also take a boat tour along the canals to get a unique perspective of the city’s architecture and scenery.
Another great activity while in Bruges is to visit its many museums and art galleries. The Groeningemuseum is one of the most popular museums in the city and houses a vast collection of Flemish and Belgian art. The Memling Museum is located in the former hospital of St. John and contains a collection of medieval medical instruments and artwork.
No trip to Bruges would be complete without sampling its famous cuisine and chocolate. Belgian chocolate is known for its high quality and rich flavor, and you can find a variety of chocolatiers and shops throughout the city. Be sure to also try some of the local specialties, such as Flemish stew, moules frites (mussels with fries), and waffles. Pair your meal with a Belgian beer, which is also renowned for its quality and variety, and you will have experienced some of the best of Belgian cuisine.
We’ve stayed at a few great hotels in Bruges and enjoyed each experience for different reasons. If you pick a hotel in the historic center, it will be very centrally located and within easy walking distance of the things in the center of Bruges that most tourists intend to do. If you have more time to spend make sure to visit the medieval town of Ghent. This itinerary will help you see everything with some pointers on where to stay .
- Belgian Chocolate Workshop in Bruges
- Love, Architecture & Art of Bruges
- Best of Bruges: History, Chocolate & Beer Tour
15. Munich, Germany
Munich, Germany, is a vibrant and historic city known for its beer, culture, and architecture. One of the must-see attractions in Munich is the Marienplatz, which is the central square of the city and home to the famous Glockenspiel clock tower. If you’re close enough to visit Neuschwanstein castle , you absolutely should make the effort.
The Alte Pinakothek is one of the most popular art museums in the city and houses a vast collection of European art from the Middle Ages to the Rococo period. The Deutsches Museum is also worth a visit, as it is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world and contains a variety of interactive exhibits and displays.
Finally, no trip to Munich would be complete without experiencing its famous beer gardens and festivals. The Oktoberfest is one of the most famous beer festivals in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as pretzels, sausages, and Weisswurst, which is a traditional Bavarian white sausage served with sweet mustard.
- Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castle Small-Group Premium All-Inc Tour from Munich
- Bavarian Beer and Food Evening Tour in Munich
- Munich Old Town Small-Group Walking Tour
Before You Go
Since you made it to the end of this article, you’re probably pretty interested in other travel destinations. Here are a few more articles we think you might enjoy.
12 Exciting Travel Destinations in Asia
21 top foodie destinations around the world.
- 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations
- 10 Most Romantic Destinations in the Mediterranean
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the easiest countries for a first-time international traveler to visit.
Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman Island, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, England, Portugal, Belgium, and Germany are all very easy first-time travel destinations. These countries have robust tourist infrastructures, widely spoken English (or high English proficiency in the case of Japan ), and relatively easy-to-navigate public transportation systems. Countries within the European Union such as France, Italy , and Spain also offer many conveniences for first-time travelers with rich cultural experiences.
What should I keep in mind when planning my first international trip?
First, consider the language spoken in your destination – it may be helpful to learn basic phrases if English is not widely spoken. Second, look into visa requirements; some countries may require you to secure a visa before your trip. Third, consider your destination country’s cost of living and exchange rates to budget accordingly. Fourth, research about the culture and customs to respect local traditions and norms. Lastly, be aware of the country’s safety level, public transportation options, and the availability of health care facilities.
What are the must-haves I should pack for my first international trip?
First, your passport and possibly a visa, depending on your destination. Keep digital and physical copies of these documents in case of loss. Second, adaptors for your electronics, as plug types vary around the world. Third, a basic first-aid kit with essentials like band-aids and medicine for common ailments. Fourth, a cell phone with international capabilities and possibly a local SIM card for data usage. Lastly, clothes are appropriate for the climate and respectful of the local culture.
See how easy it is to travel internationally? There are many easy international travel destinations to go to where you won’t feel overwhelmed or unsafe. The pleasure of traveling doesn’t have to be scary or inconvenient. Get out there and see the world!
Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:
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YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries.
7 thoughts on “ 15 Easy International Travel Destinations For Your Next Vacation ”
Thanks for sharing. Some great tips. We went to Puerto Rico last year and it was amazing. Although from California it’s about 9 hours of flying! But it was still worth it.
If only there was a way to make flights shorter. Puerto Rico is worth it though, like you said!
Great information you shared in the blog post. I will add your blog to my wish list and explore all these information in future. Thanks a lot for this share…
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How can you get to either New Zealand or Australia in a 6 or 7 hour flight from the US?
Hi! I really appreciate this list. Well assembled. I would enjoy a list as well that indicates the same sort of easy cities with the exclusion of the 6-7 hour flight criteria. We are cut visiting Sweden and it’s so easy. Looking forward to more of your articles.
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Top List of Overseas Short Tourist Trips
Enjoy the Slow Life of “Emperor Robe and Buddhist Country”
The birthplace of fashion trends, beautiful garden city, colorful country of islands, a seaside town with four seasons like spring.
Top list of overseas short tourist trips
Don't miss out: the rich tourism resources of "Oriental Hawaii" Pattaya , mature travel services, relatively low prices, and convenient visas. Whether it is your first time going abroad or after many trips, Thailand has become one of the top destinations for many people to travel abroad with its high value for money. Light travel strategy: due to the limitation of travel time, it is difficult to travel through Thailand in one trip. Select 1-2 destinations to travel for 6-8 days. Among them, Bangkok and Pattaya is regarded as one of the most classic routes in Thailand. You can enjoy the bustling capital of Bangkok and then the seaside town of Pattaya. Must-see attractions: Grand Palace , Jade Buddha Temple , Koh Samet , Dongba Paradise. Travel tips: The average temperature in Thailand during October is 23°C - 31°C, which is relatively hot. There are plenty of water activities, so it's recommended that girls bring sun protection.
Don't miss out: the gathering place of the trendy youth, Shinjuku . As the capital of Japan, Tokyo is fashionable and prosperous, but it has not lost its quaint traditions. It is a world-class commercial and financial center and a leader of Asian fashion trends. The welcoming Rakuichi in the depths of the alleys and the civilian-friendly Shitamachi area add a more diverse and inclusive color to Tokyo. Light travel strategy: There are many places to play in Tokyo, and it usually takes 5-6 days. It takes at least three days to play in the city center and then arrange a day for Tokyo Disney. If you have extra time, you can consider choosing a destination around Tokyo for a one-day trip, such as Kamakura and Karuizawa. Must-see attractions: Disneyland , Tokyo Tower , Sensoji Temple , Ginza , Akihabara . Travel tips: The average temperature in Japan during October is 15°C - 22°C, which is moderate. You can wear a single layer and a thin jacket or t-shirt.
Don't miss out: Beautiful Sands Hotel and Infinity Pool. Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world and is known as the “urban country”. It brings together modernity and tradition, integrating the essence of Eastern and Western cultures. In addition, its clean environment and urban atmosphere makes this “small country” very charming. Light travel strategy: Singapore is small, but there are many places to see, especially the Universal Studios and Aquarium on Sentosa Island . If you go there with your children, it will take at least one day. In the urban area, you can spend 1-2 days there based on your travel time. If you want to be more relaxed, you can arrange another day of shopping. Must-see attractions: Chinatown , Clarke Quay , Merlion , Sentosa Island, Universal Studios . Travel Tips: The average temperature in Singapore during October is 24-32°C, so when traveling, mainly take thin and light clothes. Be sure to use sun protection and avoid sunburn.
Don't miss out: Bohol Island, only a short distance to whale sharks. The Philippines , made up of 7,107 large and small islands, is rich in natural habitats. It has colorful scenery, including coconut forests, beaches, volcanic waterfalls, seas, lakes and mountains. Its scenery is very beautiful. Although it's not as popular as Boracay Island, Cebu and its nearby Bohol Island, are also good tourist destinations in the Philippines. Short travel strategy: Balicasag Island , the Virgin Islands, the blue coastline of Bohol Island, and the beautiful Chocolate Hill mountains are just like a fairytale dream. In addition to the bays, the ancient Philippine buildings such as the Church of the Holy Child and Fort San Pedro have a unique cultural heritage, which can be explored over a week of traveling. Must-see attractions: Church of the Holy Child, Fort San Pedro , Bohol Island , Chocolate Hills . Travel Tips: The average temperature in the Philippines during October is 26 - 31°C. The weather is very hot, and the UV rays here are pretty strong. You must take good sun protection measures when you travel here.
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Don't miss: The beautiful "Little France". Nha Trang is located on the southeast coast of Vietnam and is a very famous coastal city. It has the best beaches in Vietnam which stretch for several kilometers. It is also the most suitable diving destination in Vietnam. In addition, it has the cheapest fresh lobsters in Southeast Asia, making it an ideal place for eating it. Short travel strategy: If you only visit Nha Trang, then 4-5 days is enough. It takes 1 day to visit the temples and beaches. You can go on an island-hopping tour for another day, which is very popular and cost-effective. Then you can go to other nearby tourist cities. Must-see attractions: Nha Trang Cathedral , Long Son Pagoda , Vinpearl Amusement Park . Travel Tips: Vietnam's average temperature during October is 23 - 30°C, so you only need to wear cool, short clothes. Because there are a lot of water activities, you must take good sun protection.
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Overseas trips you can make over a long weekend (that you probably didn’t know you could)
We're not as remote as you might think we are..
In this guide
Top overseas trips for the long weekend
New zealand, dili, timor-leste, solomon islands, port moresby, international flights you can take under 4 hours from australia’s capital cities, four-day weekend, see deals for the long weekend.
Where to book...
Travel Booking Sites
Long weekends like Australia Day, Easter and the King's birthday are the perfect excuse to get away on a spontaneous trip. While exploring your own backyard on your days off is always a good idea, you might be surprised to know you can actually travel internationally for a decent 3- or even 4-day holiday from most capital cities in Australia.
And no, we're not just suggesting you pay our Kiwi friends a visit for the weekend… although there is that option.
To bring you the best destinations to jet set to, we sought out flights with a travel time of 4 hours or less because you shouldn't spend all your time flying when you should be maxing out your holiday hours.
We’re going to get this one over and done with early. Located southeast of Australia, New Zealand makes for the perfect long-weekend break due to its proximity to Australia as well as the frequency of direct flights between major cities.
Flights from eastern Australia are between 3-4 hours to major New Zealand cities such as Auckland , Christchurch , Queenstown and Wellington . The shortest direct flight is between Sydney and Queenstown at 3 hours.
Search for flights to New Zealand Browse hotels
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The French Polynesian territory of New Caledonia might seem a world away culturally, but it’s only a short flight from Australia’s eastern cities. Renowned for its beaches, marine life and island culture, you can get to it for under 3 hours from Sydney and Brisbane.
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Australia’s love affair with Bali isn’t without reason. From its powder-soft beaches to its affordable budget flights, it’s best flown for a short trip from Perth or Darwin. If you’ve got a few more days to spare, you can get up to Bali from Sydney or Brisbane in a little over 6 hours.
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If you’ve seen and done Bali or are looking for a more authentic Indonesian experience, try East Timor’s capital Dili. Located on the north coast of the country, Dili features pristine views of the bay and Atauro Island. Darwin is the only Australian capital that offers short, direct flights to it, with a travel time of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
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Featuring over 300 islands and a tropical landscape of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and rugged mountains, Fiji is a relaxing outpost not far from Australia’s east coast. Ideal for young families, honeymooning couples and pure relaxation, it’ll take you less than 4 hours to fly from Sydney or Brisbane, making it ideal for a 3- or 4-day holiday.
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Much like Fiji, Vanuatu is a South Pacific Island with a lot to offer families, couples and adventure seekers. Snorkel through coral oceans, unwind in plush cabanas and uncover historical WWI relics over a short trip. You can get here in just over 3 hours from Sydney or under 3 hours from Brisbane.
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Brisbane is topping the list here for the best destination to start an international holiday that won’t waste your time to get to. On top of Fiji and Vanuatu, Brisbanites also have the option to travel to the Solomon Islands for a paradise-filled adventure that's less than 4 hours away. Dreamy, laid-back, historical and landscape rich, spend your days stretching out on the beach, swimming in lagoons or wandering volcanic rims. The choice is yours.
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Flights to the Solomon Islands from $454
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Papua New Guinea’s largest city is accessed easiest from Brisbane and is a grittier more city-based experience. With a flight time of just over 3 hours, over the course of your 3-day holiday, you can drink up views of the bay, scour marketplaces, chow down on local eats, visit museums and play it like a local.
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Flights to Port Moresby from $304
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Fly direct from Australia starting at $276 with Air Niugini, Virgin Australia and Qantas, or hop on a connecting route with Philippine Airlines. T&Cs apply.
Find out where you can go. Note, unfortunately, there are no direct, international flights from Adelaide.
If you can stretch your holiday even further and push that flight time just a smidgen, it’s possible to make it even further north than Bali. From Darwin, you can get up to Singapore in just 4 hours and 45 minutes, and from Sydney, you can now fly direct to Tonga in 4 hours and 35 minutes.
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Stephanie Yip was the shopping editor at Finder. Previously she was Finder’s travel editor and before that was our lifestyle writer. She has been writing in the travel, shopping and lifestyle space for over 15 years. During her time at Finder she was featured in a number of publications including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian Australia, Travel Weekly, Escape and KarryOn. Before joining Finder, her previous jobs include editor for kids' magazine DMAG and writer for Thomas Cook and Wizz Air's in-flight magazine. Stephanie previously studied a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
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International trips you can swing in a three-day weekend
You don’t have to take too much time off to have an adventure abroad.
When a long weekend beckons, why not consider crossing borders? There’s a slew of international destinations that are within surprisingly easy reach of major U.S. cities, whether you’re looking to experience a fast-paced cultural capital or disappear off the radar at a secluded beach retreat. Read on for seven getaways outside the country—all within a 3.5-hour flight or less of U.S. hubs.
Flying time: 3 hours from miami; 2.5 hours from dallas or houston.
One of North America’s most exciting capitals, Mexico City exudes style, history, and a dining scene that could keep a hungry traveler busy for weeks. Those who have just a long weekend, though, can book themselves into Círculo Mexicano , one of the latest properties from homegrown hoteliers Grupo Habita, which is conveniently positioned within the city’s energetic centro histórico. The former townhouse of Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo was reimagined as a hotel with 25 Shaker-inspired guest rooms; some have skylit patios, while others have views of the nearby Metropolitan Cathedral from private balconies.
On the hotel’s ground floor, Itacate del Mar serves coffee and street food–style bites like esquites de camerón (cooked corn kernels with shrimp) and tuna tostadas—creations of chef Gabriela Cámara, who is behind the city’s seafood-focused Contramar (a must for your restaurant list).
From the hotel, make the six-minute walk to the Zócalo plaza to see the Metropolitan Cathedral up close; the central post office with its Spanish Rococo, Art Deco, and Neoclassical flourishes; and the Templo Mayor, the stone ruins of an ancient Aztec temple. La Merced , the city’s largest market, is also just 20 minutes away on foot. You could spend all day in the labyrinthine network of stalls with their towering piles of corn, molé, and fruits, but don’t leave without buying a carnitas (shredded pork) taco from one of the many food vendors.
Farther afield, head south a half hour by car to quieter Coyoacán to visit Casa Azul , also known as the Frida Kahlo Museum, where the Mexican artist’s life and work are featured in the home she once shared with social realist painter Diego Rivera. For dinner, one of the hottest tables in town right now is Botánico in posh Condesa, which serves modern bistro dishes like roasted chicken and pappardelle with beef tail ragú.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Flying time: 2.5 hours from los angeles.
Cabo and the Baja California peninsula may be synonymous with ultra-luxurious hideaways for beach-seeking celebrities, but Paradero Todos Santos provides a deeper connection to the destination through immersive activities on the land, in the surf, and in nearby towns. Located about an hour’s drive north of Cabo San Lucas International Airport, Paradero is just a few minutes away from the artsy surfer haven of Todos Santos on a five-acre working farm.
The 35 suites, with their hand-built Mexican furnishings, were all created to let the outdoors in. The Cacti View Sky Suites have rooftops with built in “star nets,” where guests can relax while suspended over a cactus forest, while the ground-floor Garden Suite Soak Tub accommodations feature enormous outdoor tubs next to private gardens.
The restaurant’s open-fire kitchen serves such dishes as green scallop aguachile and short ribs cooked with black garlic. The resort has a full roster of onsite activities, ranging from gardening lessons and cooking with the property’s homegrown ingredients to yoga and meditation classes. Paradero also offers surfing lessons at secluded beaches nearby, day trips on the Pacific Ocean via catamaran, and cultural walks in cobblestoned Todos Santos that focus on the town’s colonial architecture and artisan shops.
Flying time: 2 hours and 45 minutes from miami.
The coastal Caribbean city of Cartagena has got it all: beaches, wildlife, and a centuries-old walled city with a fascinating history. Those who want to stay in the centro histórico can try Hotel Casa San Agustin , where the onsite pool connects to a 300-year-old aqueduct, while beach lovers should choose the new Sofitel Barú Casablanca Beach Resort , which lies 40 minutes by boat from Cartagena on Isla Barú. Not far from the Sofitel is the National Aviary of Colombia , a bird park with close to 200 species, including toucans and flamingos.
Back in the city, one of the biggest historical landmarks is Castillo San Felipe , a 17th-century fortress built by the Spanish to protect Cartagena from invaders. Due to its location on a hill, it affords visitors panoramic views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. Then there’s the fascinating Palace of the Inquisition , which now functions as a museum showcasing historical artifacts (including torture devices used during the Spanish Inquisition). The 18th-century building itself is one of the city’s best examples of colonial architecture.
For a glimpse at everyday life, check out the chaotic Bazurto fish and produce market; tour operator Cartagena Connections can help visitors navigate the maze of stalls stacked with everything from fish to tropical fruits. Up for a day tour? Head about 30 miles by car to San Basilio de Palenque , the first “free town” for Africans within the Americas who fled slavery. Today it has a population of 4,000, and highlights include a monument to Benkos Biohó, who founded the town in 1599, in the main square.
Flying time: 3 hours from Miami, Atlanta, or Dallas
Even with its deep-rooted culture, beaches, biodiversity, and archaeological sites, this Central American country —which sits along the Caribbean Sea, just a short flight from several major U.S. cities—is still surprisingly under the radar for many travelers. Those who want to experience the jungle and Mayan ruins–filled interior can head for Cayo, a district in the western part of Belize. Tucked away in the forest filled with waterfalls, caves, and tropical birdsong, Gaia Riverlodge provides everything from birding walks and mountain biking to guided tours of ancient Mayan sites. The resort has an eye toward sustainability: The 16 thatched-roof accommodations were built with local materials like palmetto sticks, while the onsite restaurant buys from regional farms.
Nearby, Ka’ana Resort is a collection of villas and suites that offers cooking classes, horseback riding, and ceramic making with the locally based San Antonio Mayan women’s group. If it’s a beach vacation you’re after, however, hop on a quick 15-minute flight from Belize City to Ambergris Caye, the country’s largest island, for the Alaia Belize . The resort has 155 modern, light-filled guest rooms with three restaurants, three pools, and direct access to the white-sand Mar de Tumbo beach. Those who want to take a closer look at the area’s rich underwater wildlife can go on a scuba diving excursion to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef. At 180 miles long, it’s second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and is a habitat for sea turtles, manatees, and red-footed boobies.
Flying time: 2 hours from New York City or Boston
For a quick fix of abundant sun, white sand, and turquoise waters, East Coasters know that Bermuda , a 21-square-mile island that lies parallel to North Carolina, is the place to go. The new 120-room St. Regis Bermuda Resort checks all the boxes for a tropical vacation. It sits along a powdery beach in St. George, on the island’s East End. There are separate pools for families and adults, and there’s a spa with everything from hot stone massages to facials. If you’re seeking something less pricey, try the 47-room Rosemont Guest Suites , which faces scenic Hamilton Harbor.
It’s easy to get from place to place on this small island. There’s the town of St. George , which is lined with colonial buildings dating back to the 17th century. On Bermuda’s West End, Blue Hole Park features a swimming hole surrounded by mangroves, plus caves, grottoes, and opportunities for cliff diving.
Those interested in learning about Bermuda’s challenging but important history with slavery should explore the African Diaspora Heritage Trail , created by the UNESCO Slave Route Project in 2001 to highlight key sites. Stops include St. Peter’s Church and graveyard, where slaves and ex-slaves attended services in a separate gallery area, and the Lost at Sea Memorial, honoring the Black Bermudians who lost their lives while working as fishermen, whalers, and pilots.
Flying Time: 3 hours from New York City; 1 hour from Miami
This Atlantic Ocean archipelago about 100 miles off the coast of Miami is the place for travelers in search of mesmerizing blue waters, tropical breezes, and soft, white-sand beaches. While 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, followed by the pandemic, did a number on tourism, the islands are welcoming visitors with open arms again.
From Nassau, it’s easy to get to Baha Mar , a sprawling, 1,000-acre resort complex that sits on picturesque Cable Beach and offers three distinct hotel experiences: the romantic and ultra-luxe Rosewood , with its private alcoves and gardens; the more playful and social SLS , with its focus on nightlife; and the Grand Hyatt , which is easiest on the budget and great for kids, who will also love Baha Mar’s 15-acre beachfront waterpark. The artistically inclined can join a landscape painting or botanical leaf printing class at the resort’s Current Gallery and Art Center, run by noted Bahamian artist John Cox. Watersports enthusiasts can rent motorized watercraft like the resort’s AquaKarts , which are like go-carts, but on the water.
Flying Time 1.5 hours from New York City; 2 hours from Chicago; 2.5 hours from Atlanta
The official language of Montreal is French, which will make you feel like you’re in Europe—without the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean. This Québecois metropolis is easy to tackle over a long weekend from several major U.S. hubs. Base yourself at the Auberge du Vieux-Port , a 19th-century warehouse turned hotel that sits along the scenic Saint Lawrence River, or the hip Alt Hotel Montreal , located in charming Griffintown.
Be sure to kick off your weekend with an exploration of Vieux-Montréal , with its cobblestoned streets and Gothic Revival–style Notre Dame Basilica . For a splurge meal that represents the region’s cooking, dine at Au Pied de Cochon , where chef Martin Picard is famous for such regional dishes as foie gras poutine (French fries, cheese curds, and gravy) and maple pie. On another day, go on in search of the city’s best bagel, a culinary tradition brought over by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In artsy Mile End, St-Viateur has been churning out sweet, dense bagels since 1957.
If you love a public market, the 1933 Marché Jean Talon is the place to find everything from artisanal cheeses to fresh-baked pastries. When you’ve had your fill of culinary adventures, head to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts , Canada’s oldest museum with a massive, 45,000-work collection showcasing both Canadian and international artists. Afterwards, take a walk at the city’s 500-acre Mount Royal Park , created in 1876 by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park.
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Short holidays from Australia: 25 of the best destinations here and overseas
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Don't miss the diving and snorkeling at Padar Island in Flores, Indonesia. Credit: Getty Images
We forget there are a thousand islands other than Bali. An adventurous short break takes you to Flores, an hour's flight from Denpasar and another incarnation entirely – and not just because you'll escape the crowds and concrete. The island is magnificently crumpled, with canyons, volcanoes, improbably coloured crater lakes and cascades of rice terraces. As part of its history as a Portuguese colony, church steeples rise above cassava fields. Tourism is just taking off here, but already you can check into a fine resort such as Ayana Komodo Resort, from which you can make overnight excursions on a traditional sailboat into Komodo National Park to see its infamous komodo dragons. Padar Island is especially beautiful; the diving and snorkelling is superb.
Don't miss Flores's Rangko Cave in early afternoon, where you can float in neon-blue water illuminated by sunlight while gazing at a baroque assortment of stalactites. BJ
POACHER'S WAY, NSW/ACT
Enjoyed over two days but easily extended with a couple more in Canberra, this gourmet safari through pretty countryside brings you to indolent indulgences at wineries and rustic restaurants but doesn't require long drives. Explore the Canberra District wine region, notable for riesling and shiraz. Start in Murrumbateman, surrounded by cellar doors such as the spectacularly contemporary Shaw Wines. Then try Helm Wines, housed in an 1888 schoolhouse, and finish at Clonakilla, where you can sip lesser-known varietals such as mourvèdre and cinsault. A stop at Robyn Rowe Chocolates is a must, as is a languid lunch at Poacher's Pantry, a little further south. National Trust-listed Gundaroo has Grazing, the Canberra hinterland's best fine-dining restaurant.
Don't miss A return to Canberra via Lake George, where you should stop at Westering Restaurant for a light lunch of barramundi and white-chocolate panna cotta with a view. BJ
Fremantle's historic streets. Credit: Getty Images
Perth is the obvious choice for a WA city break, but you'd do well to go alternative at Fremantle, its port and fishing harbour. Not only is it poised for easy day-tripping access to wonderful, wildlife-rich Rottnest Island, it has its own distinct identity and raffish atmosphere, including a lively dining, micro-brewery and bar scene that will burnish your hipster credentials while titillating your taste buds. Stroll windy promenades, browse street markets, take in grand 19th-century architecture and visit Fremantle Prison, the nation's most intact convict establishment, for tales of unusual punishments and daring escapes. Fremantle Arts Centre, housed in a convict-built, neo-Gothic former lunatic asylum and submarine base, has a busy program of events.
Don't miss The WA Maritime Museum to see the 1983 America's Cup winner Australia II, tour a World War II submarine and visit shipwreck galleries which include remnants of the Dutch ship Batavia, which sank in 1629. BJ
Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia. Credit: Getty Images
The spectacular sandstone ridges of the Grampians rise with deceptive modesty three hours west of Melbourne, then plunge dramatically, turning waterways into waterfalls and rewarding hikers with abrupt conclusions to trails at sumptuous lookouts. Lovers of the great outdoors will enjoy bushwalking, rock climbing, canoeing and fishing, but even the indolent will find rewarding drives such as the splendid route south to Mount Abrupt and Mount Sturgeon. Halls Gap is the obvious tourist centre, but Pomonal brings more seclusion and romance for couples, while around Moyston you can immerse yourself in farmland replete with flamboyant rape-seed fields and paddocks of fat sheep. Dunkeld has settler history, a glorious arboretum and enough lavender-scented boutiques to keep shoppers happy.
Don't miss Wartook Valley, with some of the Grampians' best scenery. For those who like their short breaks extra-rugged, there's the chance to explore by four-wheel-drive and mountain bike. BJ
The Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia. Credit: New Caledonia Tourism
THE LOYALTY ISLANDS, NEW CALEDONIA
Located 200 kilometres east of the main island, Grand Terre, this chain of sparsely populated small islands epitomises everything good about the South Pacific. Perfect for cruising (cruise companies often visit Lifou and the nearby Isle of Pines), it's protected by the world's third-largest barrier reef and offers kilometres of secluded white-sand beaches and some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Pacific. There are few resorts and restaurants here, just an array of stunning natural attractions like limestone caves, deep blue holes and beach shacks offering fresh seafood you can eat with your toes in the water.
Don't miss Though Lifou is best known, the island of Maré just a few kilometres south is full of secret beaches, hidden caves in the bush and 19th-century Catholic churches. The islands are also home to some of the world's finest vanilla beans. CT
Tourism is far from Townsville's sole industry and, on that front, it plays second fiddle to Cairns. Yet the Great Barrier Reef is just as accessible, Magnetic Island a mere 20-minute ferry ride away, and lush, waterfall-draped rainforests can be found inland at Paluma Range National Park. The city itself has a great waterfront area, a heritage centre and excellent family-friendly attractions, including Reef HQ Aquarium and the Museum of Tropical Queensland, where the exhibition on the HMS Pandora shipwreck in 1791 is particularly absorbing. Get out on the water, where you'll find serious game-fishing, great kayaking around Magnetic Island and outstanding diving on coral reefs. The 1911 SS Yongala shipwreck, haunted by huge fish, turtles and manta rays, is a highlight.
Don't miss Magnetic Island, where you might consider a break in the even slower lane. It has magnificent coastal walks and resident koalas and rock wallabies. BJ
Colourful George Town in Malaysia. Credit: Getty Images
GEORGE TOWN, MALAYSIA
For dollops of south-east Asia, India and China – plus a dash of Britain – all in one short break, head to George Town, capital of the island state of Penang, which erupts in an eclectic variety of ethnicities, languages, religions, colourful architecture and flavoursome cuisines. George Town has a happily dishevelled, lived-in atmosphere; food stalls and retro stores coexist with hipster cafes and fashion boutiques. Georgian and Victorian buildings are a reminder of George Town's founding by the British in 1786, but the most magnificent sight is bling-laden Khoo Kongsi, a Chinese clan house encrusted with gold and writhing dragons. Best of all is the food: a spicy taste explosion of laksas, fish-head curries, Chinese stir-fries, Indian pancakes, chilli-popping rojak salads and more.
Don't miss The hillside Kek Lok Si Temple, outside town. It's Malaysia's biggest Buddhist complex, topped by a tall, seven-tiered pagoda. You could spend a year counting the Buddhas. BJ
Pink sky after sunset at Cabarita Beach in the Northern Rivers. Credit: Getty Images
NORTHERN RIVERS, NSW
While Byron Bay hogs the limelight, you only need turn inland to find a slower pace amid World Heritage rainforest, worn-down volcanoes and hillsides covered in macadamia and coffee plantations. Head north to Murwillumbah, a classic dairy-farming and sugar cane town between hills and river with an unexpected arty edge.
A visit to the Tweed Regional Gallery and its Margaret Olley Art Centre is a delight, but so is messing about on the river. Meander down to little Uki, which sits under Mount Warning and has a river walk for platypus spotting. For your dose of ocean, turn towards Cabarita Beach for a seafood lunch at one-hatted Paper Daisy, followed by a meander down to Pottsville and under-the-radar Wooyung Nature Reserve.
Don't miss The scenic 30-kilometre drive to Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, just over the Queensland border, where waterfalls splash and glow worms wink from caves. BJ
The stunning landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Credit: Jess Caldwell ~amp~ Luke Riddle
ALICE SPRINGS, NT
While Uluru is your classic short break, you've good reason to choose Alice Springs during September and October, when Desert Mob and related cultural events demonstrate why this is Australia's leading destination for Indigenous art. The arts festival is a brilliant showcase of artwork from Indigenous communities across Australia's desert regions, in painting and sculpture, textiles and wood carving, and in styles from traditional to contemporary. Balmy spring weather makes for the right time to explore the surrounding landscapes that have provided so much artistic inspiration, especially the West MacDonnell Ranges – chasms of soaring orange rock, pockmarked with waterholes.
Don't miss A drive to Hermannsburg, a National Trust-listed settlement that was once home to Albert Namatjira and is now noted for its pottery artists. Gorgeous, flamboyantly orange Finke Gorge is nearby. BJ
The white sands of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. Credit: Getty Images
AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS
Forty minutes flying time north of Rarotonga, you'd go to Aitutaki just for its lagoon. It's five times the size of Aitutaki and Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet , calls it the best lagoon on Earth. It contains 15 tiny islands (motu) to get lost on, and only one is inhabited. But, though exploring the lagoon will completely occupy you for at least two days, it's just part of the reason you'd come here. Make time for a slow drive through picture-perfect villages where everyone waves, then join them in 160-year-old churches by the sea to hear pitch-perfect singing.
Don't miss Go sailing on Aitutaki's massive lagoon with Sail Aitutaki or book a half-day speedboat tour. The more daring can try kiteboarding with Wet & Wild Aitutaki at one of the planet's best locations for it. CT
This external territory of Australia is almost overseas: flights from Brisbane and Sydney leave from the international terminal, and you'd best not call Norfolk Islanders Australian.
It was first settled by descendants of Bounty mutineers and has an awful convict history captured in a World Heritage site, yet is now an affable island of slow-paced living, gorgeous seascapes and splendid pine and fig trees. There's plenty of history and quirky tours, the fishing is great, the rolling green hills are made for walking and, with bird life in abundance, bird watchers will rejoice. This is a tranquil enclave of old-fashioned pleasures.
Don't miss Mount Pitt in Norfolk Island National Park which, at 316 metres high, gives you an outlook over the entire island. Bring some food and enjoy the well-placed picnic table. BJ
Wellington, the vibrant capital of New Zealand. Credit: Getty Images
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
Over the past decade, the New Zealand capital has emerged as an impressive cultural centre noted for its festivals, entertainment scene, fine dining and sassy, avant-garde attitude. Yet it remains compact and easily navigated, laid-back and endearingly retro: riding the red train up to the botanic gardens remains a sedate, classic pleasure. Wander and be surprised at an old cinema re-imagined, a theatre turned arts co-operative, or a former shoe factory now crammed with gourmet outlets. Trendy bars and breweries enliven every corner and restaurants such as Hiakai, Ortega Fish Shack and Logan Brown are world-class.
Don't miss The Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa museum, created with Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop, which brings the campaign to life through the stories of eight New Zealanders. BJ
The Coral Coast in Western Australia. Credit: Getty Images
CORAL COAST, WA
Nothing feels more like an escape than a road trip, so head north out of Perth on the first half of the Coral Coast as far as Kalbarri. The turquoise ocean is never far from the windscreen, and in springtime the wildflowers are gobsmacking. The return trip involves 12 hours of driving, so spread it over five days to balance movement with slower pleasures. The two highlights are the limestone desert outcrops of the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park and the ancient gorges and coastal cliffs of Kalbarri National Park. Green Head has a sea lion colony, and regional centre Geraldton is bright with street art. If you have time, the Houtman Abrolhos islands are a top fishing and bird-watching destination.
Don't miss Hutt Lagoon near Gregory. Commonly called Pink Lake but sometimes red or purple, it's a mind-bending sight, backed by golden dunes and blue ocean. BJ
Diving in the Solomon Islands. Credit: Getty Images
WESTERN PROVINCE, SOLOMON ISLANDS
They're so close to Australia and yet they're still such a mystery. For those considering the Solomon Islands, Western Province is your easiest bet. There are 11 main islands in the area and most can be reached by boat or plane. Here's where you'll find many of the archipelago's real wonders, from some of the Pacific's finest lagoons to the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, Tetepare, dubbed "the Galapagos of the Pacific" for its biodiversity. World War II was fiercely fought here and you'll see wrecked planes on your dives along with whales and rare turtles such as leatherbacks, while the fishing is world class.
Don't miss The Pacific's most underrated surf. The breaks here, spread across the islands, are home to some of the most consistent waves in the South Pacific. CT
A rainbow over Tasmania. Credit: Getty Images
BAY OF FIRES, TAS
The north-east corner of Tasmania between Eddystone Point and Binalong Bay, a two-hour drive east of Launceston airport, features rugged bushland, lagoons, pristine beaches and striking orange boulders set against sapphire seas. The best way to see the coast is a multi-day hike guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away, but without exhaustion: expect to walk 35 kilometres over four days. You can do it yourself using free camp sites or sign up with a tour company for a more comfortable style without the need to shoulder gear. The hike gives you an intimate encounter with the superlative landscape, its Indigenous history, and wildlife such as sea eagles. You can also kayak on Ansons River and take a plunge into the ocean.
Don't miss Eddystone Point Lighthouse, located on a wind-battered bluff and surrounded by rock pools scuttling with fabulous creatures. BJ
The sweeping landscape of Kangaroo Island. Credit: Getty Images
KANGAROO ISLAND, SA
This Goldilocks island is just right: accessible yet adventurous, both rugged and pastoral, small enough to conquer but large enough to keep you occupied. You can spend the morning amid wild landscapes home to sea lions and penguins, sit down to a fine lunch and glass of shiraz, then visit farm doors for honey or haloumi. The cellar doors are a treat, too. The best scenery lies along the south coast: the scalloped dunes of Little Sahara, the turquoise sweep of Vivonne Bay, and the bizarrely balanced outcrops at Remarkable Rocks. At Cape du Couedic, a spectacular boardwalk takes you down among dozing seals.
Don't miss Seal Bay Conservation Park, home to one of Australia's largest colonies of sea lions, and one of few places anywhere you can get close to these endearing, if smelly, creatures. BJ
The Samoan coastline. Credit: Getty Images
Samoa is already off most mainstream travellers' radars. And those who do make it generally don't go to Savai'i, Samoa's Big Island, though it's only an hour away by ferry from Upolu, where the international airport is.
This is where you'll see Samoa as it always was. There are plenty of natural attractions, manned by local families who charge barely $5 for you to see them, while the coastline offers everything from blowholes you can throw coconuts in, to stunning beaches for swimming and snorkelling. Its hinterland is spectacular; climb high into mountains to look back at the coastline. And there are several high-end resorts by the sea; use them as bases to discover the island across three to five days.
Don't miss Savai'i is the largest shield volcano in the South Pacific. Take a tour into the hinterland and walk along its crater, where you'll discover more than 500 species of flowering plants, a quarter of which are found only on this island. CT
For a short break that requires no planning, hassle or (should you so desire) any thought at all, hop aboard a cruise. There are times when having everything to hand – accommodation, transport, food, entertainment – in one easy package is just the tonic for a stressful life. Take a five-day cruise to Tasmania on Carnival Splendor from Sydney, or P&O Cruises' Pacific Explorer from Melbourne, and you'll call at Port Arthur and Hobart. (Other cruise itineraries take in Burnie, too.) On your days at sea you can wallow in the spa or swimming pool, hit the water slides and take in an evening show or movie under the stars. And with clubs, sports and deck parties to keep the kids occupied, there is plenty of opportunity to get your much-needed adult downtime, too.
Don't miss A guided shore-excursion tour of Port Arthur to learn about its convict history as you admire its incongruously beautiful setting. BJ
Tropical Taveuni in Fiji. Credit: Getty Images
Most travellers won't leave Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, but there's secret treasure to be found elsewhere among Fiji's 332 islands. Some of the best can be found on Taveuni, Fiji's Garden Isle. Eighty minutes flying time north of Nadi, Taveuni is an eco-tourist's dream, though its luxury waterside accommodation will suit any couple looking for privacy. You'll need at least three days to discover its attractions – many of which require some sweat. Over a third of the island is national park, so take a hike in the wild green volcanic interior among Fiji's tallest mountains. And leave a day or two to scuba dive or snorkel among some of the planet's best dive sites.
Don't miss A waterfall circuit through pristine Bouma National Heritage Park, where you can swim beneath some of the Pacific's most impressive cascades. There are more waterfalls along the Lavena Coastal Walk, which passes both white and black sand beaches. CT
Those whose idea of the perfect getaway involves rolling countryside, vineyards and a heritage town with a great wine-and-dine scene need look no further. A 90-minute heritage walking trail takes you around Orange's best bits, if you aren't distracted by the cafes, delis and boutiques. Sample wines from 19 vineyards at Ferment: The Orange Wine Centre before driving out to scenic cellar doors, such as Ross Hill, De Salis and Rowlee Wines, on the flanks of Mount Canobolas. What also makes Orange a great short-break destination are the charming towns within a 45-minute drive, including Millthorpe, Carcoar and Canowindra, where you'll find eclectic little museums, gold-rush history and heritage architecture.
Don't miss Any number of excellent restaurants, including hatted Lolli Redini for Italian, The Schoolhouse for bold modern bistro dishes, and Charred Kitchen for meat and seafood cooked in a wood and charcoal oven. BJ
A cable-car trip in Sentosa, Singapore. Credit: Getty Images
Safety, organisation, a top-notch dining and bar scene, eclectic neighbourhoods such as Little India and Chinatown, and abundant attractions have turned Singapore into much more than just a stopover. Yet Sentosa has all the requisite luxury hotels, spas, golf courses, beaches and nature walks you want in a relaxing tropical break – and the bright lights of a sophisticated city just a twinkle away. Sentosa is a great family-friendly retreat where you can spend the day flopping on the sand, swimming in the lagoon, splashing about in a water park or rambling through the rainforest.
Don't miss Universal Studios Singapore, where you can ride the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster and Jurassic Park Rapids, and hang out with characters from Madagascar. BJ
The Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission
FLINDERS RANGES, SA
The Flinders are a five-hour drive from Adelaide, so you'll want to take a five-day break and perhaps overnight in Clare Valley wine country on the way. Nowhere is such magnificently rugged outback so easily accessible, though you'll need a four-wheel-drive. Deep gorges, shattered peaks, Wilpena Pound's vast natural amphitheatre and the explosive sunsets are stupendous, while rock art and the ruins of failed European settlements provide a haunting footnote. A multitude of hiking trails get you among it all, but you don't need to get out of your car to appreciate the spectacular landscapes along the Moralana and Bunyeroo-Brachina-Aroona scenic drives. Razorback and Brachina lookouts are highlights that assault you with rust-red geology and purple ranges.
Don't miss Pugilist Hill Lookout, not as well-known as some scenic spots but offering a sunset spectacle of Wilpena Pound in one direction and the Chance Range in the other. BJ
Stunning views at Queenstown Harbor Pier. Credit: Getty Images
QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand's skiing, hiking and adventure capital might be renowned for high-octane activities such as bungy-jumping and jet-boating, yet it boasts more sedate pleasures such as boat excursions on Lake Wakatipu
and an excursion to Gibbston Valley's cellar doors to sample pinot noir in sun-soaked courtyards. The food scene is terrific, whether you're chomping on a gourmet burger, dining at innovative The Bunker or carnivore's delight the Botswana Butchery, or enjoying a degustation of Kiwi produce at True South Dining Room. No matter how you enjoy Queenstown, you'll be absorbed in gobsmacking alpine scenery. Hit the hiking and mountain-biking trails, drive to Glenorchy, or just kick back on a terrace and enjoy views to rival Switzerland.
Don't miss Picturesque Arrowtown, 20 kilometres from Queenstown, which has some 60 gold-rush-era buildings and a Chinese miners' settlement, as well as excellent cafes and restaurants. BJ
Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Credit: Getty Images
ESPIRITU SANTO, VANUATU
While it's Vanuatu's largest island, Espiritu Santo receives a fraction of the visitors who go to its main island, Efate. It's still wild here, an hour's flying time north of Port Vila, and locals in loincloths still wander into its capital, Luganville. But there's plenty to do here, and some luxurious private resort islands and reasonably priced homestays right on the water. The island was a huge US army base during World War II and you can dive one of the world's most accessible wrecks from this period, the SS President Coolidge. You can also ride a horse along the beach, hike among Vanuatu's tallest mountains and discover remote villages.
Don't miss A full-day tour involving a four-wheel-drive trip, a hike through rainforest, swimming in rivers and canyoning to discover an enormous cave among the waterfalls at Millennium Cave. CT
The paradise of Hamilton Island, Queensland. Credit: Getty Images
HAMILTON ISLAND, QLD
Dreaming of the big blue, a subtropical climate and toe-wiggling sand? Hamilton is one of Queensland's most accessible islands thanks to its airport, tourist facilities and accommodation options. Yet two-thirds of the island remains covered in nature reserve, and the Coral Sea beyond is an extravagant array of reefs and uninhabited islands; you can feel like Robinson Crusoe without sacrificing sunset cocktails and thread count. Venture out to snorkel and dive, visit Instagram-perfect Whitehaven Beach, golf on nearby Dent Island, or take a skippered yacht for a day out and enjoy lunch anchored in a secluded cove. Back on the island, a spa treatment, a drink and a dinner of pan-roasted scallops await.
Don't miss The walk up to Passage Peak, the highest point on the island. You'll see it at its best if you rise early, when the sun stains the sea orange and there's nobody else about. BJ
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale July 24. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age .
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