The road less travelled

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

LISA MULLINS: A global economic downturn is not good news for the tourism industry. Consider these two bits of information from a poll published this week by the Associated Press. First, about a third of Americans have already cancelled a planned vacation trip this year because of financial concerns. And second, only 19 percent of Americans are considering a trip outside the United States. But the family vacation could indeed be saved by choosing less traveled and less costly destinations. Don George is the Editor of the online travel magazine Recce for Geographic Expeditions. And Don, I know you've got a bunch of good deals for summertime travel destinations that perhaps were not on American's radar, at least not yet. Now, let me guess, Mexico must be quite a bargain?

DON GEORGE: Mexico is indeed a bargain and the fact is that tourism into Mexico is down 70 to 80 percent and really geographically the problems in Mexico have been limited to specific areas. So if you can go outside of those areas, for example you might want to just drive to Baja, Mexico to Baja, California, and prices are extremely low there. They need tourism. They're welcoming tourists more warmly than ever. You can have a wonderful experience.

MULLINS: Okay, so where all tops your list?

GEORGE: Well, I would love to go to Buenos Aries this summer. You're going to spend most of your money on airfare in the neighborhood of $700, but once you get there hotel rates are unbelievably low, $20, $30, $40 for a hotel and meals are also really low. Then there's so much free entertainment just sitting at a cafe and watching the street theater or going to a tango club for $5 and watching people tango. This is great entertainment, very illuminating. It brings you into the heart of the culture for a very little price.

MULLINS: So going by this tenet that crisis presents opportunities. What else makes a good travel opportunity right now?

GEORGE: Well, it's a great time to go to Croatia. Croatia is one of my favorite destinations in Europe, the old town of Dubrovnik is one of the most charming places on the planet. Cobblestone streets; terra cotta tiled roofs; very friendly, warm, welcoming people, and then I would get off and explore the islands off the Dalmatian Coast. Great food, terrific Mediterranean fare at half the price you'd find in Italy.

MULLINS: And how about if you want to go to a really far flung place, if you're feeling rather adventurous and you want to take your family?

GEORGE: I'd say to go to Thailand where prices run the gamut. You can spend a lot of money in Thailand, but you can also live very inexpensively in Thailand. The country is beautiful, the people are extremely friendly and welcoming, and you can take in the natural wonders or you can get great culture in a city like Bangkok.

MULLINS: And how about for those of us who would rather drive to a destination?

GEORGE: Well, then I'd recommend Canada. I love Cape Bretton up in Nova Scotia, and I visited there many summers and had a fantastic time. Otherwise, on the west coast I would say British Columbia. Take in Vancouver but then get outside Vancouver, explore some of the islands or explore the national parks. And one other thing to consider might be traveling by train across Canada, which is a spectacular adventure. We've lost the art of traveling by train, and I think it's something we should recapture.

MULLINS: Don, where are you going to go?
GEORGE: I'm hoping to go to Italy this summer.

MULLINS: You're going to be spending the money that we're going to be saving.

GEORGE: [LAUGHTER]

MULLINS: Don George edits the online travel magazine Recci for Geographic Expeditions and he also has an adventure travel website called Don's Place. You can find links at our website theworld.org. Happy travels, Don.

GEORGE: Thanks. Same to you, Lisa.

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