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We’re definitely hitting the January blahs (soon to be followed by the February blahs) so what better time to plan your next vacation? If you’re looking at that post-holiday bank account and thinking planning a trip is totally out of the question, we’ve got a list that just might change your mind.

Susan Catto of Travelzoo has put together six of the best (and cheapest) destinations for Canadians this year. According to Susan, these aren’t just great locations to visit, they’re the places where you can get the most bang for your Canadian buck as well as the most reasonable flights and accommodations.

We talked to Susan about her hottest tips for each destination so you can have the best experience possible (at the best price) in any of these awesome locations in 2019.

South Korea

Why you should go

South Korea is a great trip if you’re looking to visit East Asia and get a little of everything. It’s got the bustling capital city of Seoul plus the Olympic intrigue of Pyeongchang (remember all those beautiful aerial shots?). It’s not all skyscrapers and bullet trains though. Outside the cities, there’s still a tonne of nature and heritage to explore in the ancient mountainside temples in Gangwon Region and multiple luxe ski resorts (also equipped with spas for those who would rather just relax).

Why you should go now

Post-Olympics is the best time to visit any city. The Olympic crowds are gone, but the hotel space around Pyeongchang and Seoul isn’t, meaning it’s ever so reasonably priced for the people traveling there now. As Susan points out, prices at critically-loved hotels like the Seamarq Hotel and the L7 hotel are totally reasonable and fancy to boot.

Hot travel tip: take in the whole country

“It’s extremely easy to get around thanks to the high-speed bullet train,” Susan shares. “People just rave about the train system there because it’s easy to use and it’s so fast. I would encourage people to plan to move around the country — it’s a very manageable size; it’s smaller than Ontario and you can just get this culture in all its different ways from the urban to the really traditional.”

South Korea
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Romania

Why you should go

Why go to any Eastern European country? The history, the natural beauty, the CASTLES — Romania has it all. Plus the country has modernized significantly in recent years so you won’t be making any comfort compromises on your trip. It’s also a great destination to bundle into an Eastern European tour with Poland, Croatia and Hungary nearby.

Why you should go now

Romania has been modernizing and growing, but until recently, it’s been relatively difficult and expensive to get there. Just at the end of 2018, Air Canada began offering new direct flights to Bucharest from several Canadian cities. Not only is it the easiest it’s ever been to get to the country, the Romanian leu is a currency that trades relatively low compared to the Canadian dollar — a rarity in this market.

Hot travel tip: Be a trendsetter

“Romania is just on the edge. You’ll find those cities that have already had their tourist boom — I’d include Croatia, Poland — those places are a lot more expensive than Romania because the world hasn’t caught on yet,” Susan says. “You can go to places like Bucharest and have these fantastic meals, you can stay in a luxury hotel… and you can get that history without an extra price tag.”

Romania
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Ireland

Why you should go

You’ve seen Game of Thrones, right? Ireland has the gorgeous countryside we know so well from Westeros but it also boasts the bustling urban hubs of Dublin and Belfast.

Why you should go now

With Brexit talks deteriorating, who knows how complicated traveling in Europe (and between Ireland and Northern Ireland) will be even a year from now. Plus, with the British pound taking a beating along with negotiations, there hasn’t been a better time to exchange your Canadian currency.

If you need yet another reason to go this year, with Game of Thrones airing its final season, those new legacy experiences are sure to be opening soon.

Hot travel tip: Go in the off-season

“You can find incredible value in the off-season — any time other than summer,” Susan suggests. “I like to recommend the shoulder seasons so not really the depths of winter but early spring or late fall. You’ll get good weather, you’ll get more light and you won’t have crowds.”

Ireland
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Colombia

Why you should go

Colombia has similar vibes to the more conventional Canadian vacation destinations of Mexico and Cuba, but at a fraction of the price. They also have a rich culture and history on full display along with all the amenities you expect from a beach holiday.

Why you should go now

The favourable exchange rate, first of all. Second, the country has been building itself up in recent years and is in the process of constructing three new Hilton hotels on top of the luxe accommodations already offered. Better yet, in 2020, Cartagena, Colombia will be a stop on the Ritz-Carlton’s first-ever cruise ship route.

Hot travel tip: add a little culture to your beach vacay

“You can actually see the amazing walled city of Cartagena — which is one of those bucket list cities to see — but you’re also so close to those beaches that Canadians dream of in the winter months,” Susan says. “So it’s a great way to combine a little bit of culture with your beach holiday… and don’t be afraid to tour around the country… flights within Columbia are affordable.”

Colombia
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Manitoba

Why you should go

How much of your own beautiful country have you seen? It’s not exactly a beach vacation, but don’t underestimate a domestic holiday. Manitoba offers 300 days of northern lights a year and Winnipeg is becoming quite the hub of urban culture with unique experiences and culinary intrigue.

Why you should go now

2019 will mark the opening of three new major hotels in Winnipeg meaning finding accommodations will be easier and cheaper than in recent years. Plus with new discount airlines like Swoop, flying within Canada is cheaper than it has been in a looong time.

Hot travel tip: Go on a Canadian safari

“This is of course a place for northern lights and for polar bears,” Susan says. “People talk a lot about going on African safaris, which is fine, but taking a trip to Churchill, Manitoba offers a similar once-in-a-lifetime nature and wildlife experience.”

Manitoba
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Puerto Rico

Why you should go

With Hurricane Maria recovery well underway, the island is once again a great destination for international tourism — and what better way to help out than by spending your (admittedly American) dollars there? Susan says her biggest draw to the island (apart from surfing) is its bioluminescent bays. There are only five bays in the world that have that au naturale glow and Puerto Rico has three of them: Mosquito Bay (the brightest in the world), Laguna Grande and La Parguera.

Why you should go now

More than a year after Maria, the island is in much better shape than it was but it still needs tourism dollars to build itself up again. A trip here is both helpful to the local economy and also means your dollar will go further while prices are kept low to entice tourists to visit.

Hot travel tip: Take advantage of the surfing and the local food

“My favourite thing about Puerto Rico is that while a lot of beach destinations have very calm seas, Puerto Rico is a good place to go if you like to surf or body surf,” Susan shares.

“Puerto Rico is going to have fantastic food. If food is important to you, this is a good place to go,” she added. “The value is great. Just your regular street stand is going to have delicious inexpensive food.”

Puerto Rico
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