It’s no secret to us that the appetite for adventure has returned massively as we head into the first full year of recovery since the pandemic. Travellers want to get out there and see everything, everywhere, all at once, but many are feeling that inflationary pinch. Knowing that there are communities we visit trying to revive — and better yet, thrive — from your visits, we put our collective heads together. The result? Our two-part list of the best destinations you can visit in 2023 that focus not just on affordability and life-changing experiences but strong social impact for local communities. Let’s go!
1: Costa Rica
Continuing as a popular choice after being one of the first countries to reopen during the pandemic, this Central American gem shows no signs of slowing down. With its mix of nature, activities and beaches there is something for everyone, especially digital nomads who can benefit from its digital nomad visa created this year. Costa Rica is a perfect destination for those wanting to completely unplug and focus on their wellbeing following the impact of, well, everything.
Get there: An eight-day Wellness Costa Rica tour travelling from San Jose return is priced from $1,879pp CAD and also visits the Mi Cafecito coffee cooperative in San Miguel de Sarapiqui. There, you can learn about everything from harvesting, to husking, drying, and roasting the beans before enjoying the best part – a fresh cup. You’ll also enjoy a typical lunch of plantains, beans, and freshly caught tilapia fish while supporting a G for Good project that helps 200 farmers and their families.
2: Sri Lanka
Rocked by crises over the past few years with the Easter attacks, COVID-19, and recent economic struggles, tourism in Sri Lanka is ripe for a rebound. Could 2023 finally be its year? We hope so, as much for the sake of the people impacted in the tourism industry, as the travellers who flock to see its culture and beauty. The currency devaluation makes it a better value to travel to now and they’ve set an ambitious target to attract tourists this year.
Get there: Our Sri Lanka Express tour is priced from just $1,499 CAD for an eight-day trip from Negombo return. It supports two G for Good projects; Sthree Craft Shop and Cafe and AMBA Estate organic farm and guest house.
3: The Balkans
Looking to head to Europe but want to avoid the usual go-to sights? The Balkans offer that European feel at a fraction of the cost. You can cruise the Adriatic on our Montenegro sailing trip as our yacht whisks you to remote island villages. Disembark to explore the islands off the coast and help spread wealth into local communities.
Get there:: Our eight-day Montenegro Sailing tour from Dubrovnik return is priced from $2,249pp CAD. You’ll help support the people of small villages on the islands and enjoy the added good feels of sailing as a low-impact means of travel.
We’re hopeful the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum opens in 2023 as currently stated on its website. It’ll help encourage even more travellers to this classic destination where prices remain very affordable. Our bookings are up 52 percent on previous years as more people look to tick it off their bucket list, and Egyptians are eager to welcome you as one of them. Get going before the crowds return!
Get there: Our eight-day Best of Egypt tour travelling from Cairo return is priced from $1,499pp CAD, which includes a visit to an inhabited island on the Nile, where you can meet the Nubian community, enjoy a dinner at a local home, and learn about their way of life.
With Asia so late to open, Thailand is slower to return meaning right now there are less tourists and crowds, and prices remain low as it’s not yet affected by inflation. Thailand is heavily reliant on tourism for jobs and income, so all visitors are welcome, especially as the all-important Chinese outbound market is yet to return. Now’s a perfect time for students and young people to hit up Southeast Asia, and support locally-owned hostels along the way on a ‘Roamies’ trip, our partnership with Hostelworld. We suggest being one of the first on our new tour launching this month.
Get there: Our Bangkok to Hanoi: Chiang Mai, Night Markets & Streetside Bars Roamies trip is priced from $1,279pp CAD for a nine-day tour from Bangkok to Hanoi. You’ll make a noodle stop at Yimsoo Cafe in Bangkok that offers training and economic opportunities for people living with disabilities.
6: South Africa
It’s home to some of Africa's most spectacular parks and wildlife, but the misconception around the high costs of safaris can put travellers off. We, however, have a particularly affordable safari offer that means travellers can tick off their long-awaited wildlife excursion for a fraction of the regular price. Even better, you’ll enjoy great prices on the ground too while still giving back to local communities.
Get there: Our eight-day Kruger in Depth tour is priced from $1,799pp CAD departing and returning to Johannesburg. You’ll take in the diverse wildlife of Kruger National Park as well as a local dance activity, which helps to support local communities and schools. Visiting the north of the park, which is often overlooked by other operators, you’ll help bring much needed income to the community, while you stay in a lodge that only employs local people.
Can’t wait to see what other destinations made the cut for 2023? Stay tuned in a few weeks for a second helping of tours that save you money and still help the communities you visit.