With most of us doing some recession-driven belt-tightening and with airfares rising, who can even think about taking a big international trip? The answer is: You. There are plenty of stunning, great-value overseas destinations that allow you to stretch your hard-earned dollars. Try one of these:
Outside of the hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, India's offerings are reasonably priced, if not downright cheap. And the country has lots of landscape and culture for the buck. Lounge on tucked-away beaches in Goa or Kerala, or head for the snow-topped Himachal Pradesh for low-cost skiing. Stay in Rajasthan's former palaces and live like a maharaja for less. Traveling by train while dining at low-key local places both saves money and makes your trip more authentic.
The sightseeing is varied, from Istanbul's opulent Ottoman palaces to Cappadocia's moonscape rock formations; the locals are friendly and good deals abound. Although resort nightclubs can be expensive, you can have just as good a time drinking a cool Efes beer with locals at a streetside cafe. From Antalya, take a Mediterranean cruise on a peaceful gulet (two-masted sailing ship) to spot Roman ruins along the Turkish Riviera, or find good deals at golf courses in nearby Belek.
This culture-rich corner of Eastern Europe knows how to offer value for money. Krakow is a cultural highlight, thanks to its historical Kazimierz Jewish quarter and cobbled medieval center with affordable apartments to rent. At the foot of the High Tatras Mountains, get your camera ready for the Alpine-like town of Zakopane and its unique 19th-century wooden structures. Or explore the restored Royal Castle, the centerpiece of the now-gleaming capital, Warsaw.
It's easy to find natural beauty and friendly locals in Laos, which has even better deals than Thailand. Enjoy exploring the capital, Vientiane, with its sleepy riverfront and statue-studded Buddha Park. Watch saffron-robed monks at dawn moving gracefully around the temple-filled holy town of Luang Prabang, or discover dramatic megalithic stone vessels, believed to be funerary urns, in the Plain of Jars.
Mountains, deserts and coastline provide plenty of scenic variety in this North African jewel, and so do its cities. Get lost in Fez's warren-like medieval medina or practice your haggling skills in Marrakech's exotic souks (marketplaces). Feeling adventurous? Enjoy local hospitality in the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains, where a stay in a riad (traditional house with an interior courtyard) can be comparable in price to a stay in a U.S. budget chain hotel.