When it comes to planning a holiday, many travellers prefer going to some of the most popular tourist destinations around the world to see the pyramids, explore the jungle, surf the ocean, or climb the highest mountains. However, for other holidaymakers, it has become the new trend to find lesser-known spots that are more affordable and not as overcrowded. Despite the rising costs, people are still prioritising travel over other expenses and will therefore look for more ways to save on travel while still getting the same or even better experience out of their trips. Here are my travel expert insights on great hidden-gem destinations that offer an authentic and exclusive vacation experience and can be considered great dupes for some of the most popular tourist places.

First of all, the key to having a premium travel experience for less is choosing the right time and spot for your holiday. Therefore, I suggest exploring off-the-radar places where you can splurge instead of saving. Another piece of advice for those looking to cut their holiday expenses without sacrificing style and comfort is to travel during the off-season. Airfares for flight routes during the holiday months can be up to 50% more expensive than flights booked roughly six months out during off-peak times. The same goes for accommodations, experiences, and even dining out. I recommend booking tickets well in advance, comparing prices with several different travel agencies and airlines, or better yet, reaching out to a personal travel agent to find the best deals that match the needs of your itinerary. The more flexible you are, the better deals you can score, including some great last-minute offers and holiday packages that would usually cost twice as much.

Sumba, Indonesia

For years, Bali has been among the most trendy holiday spots; however, since it is not as peaceful and untouched as it once was, many vacationers are now looking for new, undiscovered and less crowded tropical destinations that offer better value for money. Known for its rugged coastline, exotic beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes and unique traditions, Sumba is a truly spectacular island in Indonesia that has recently started to attract tourists who are after an exotic escape. Sumba is located south of Bali, only a 1.5-hour direct flight away and it’s twice the size of it. This island is the home to Nihi Sumba resort, which has been voted “Best Hotel in the World” for the past two years. The villas at this eco-friendly resort are located on “The Edge of Wilderness,” in a remote area away from popular tourist attractions in front of the white sand beach, sandstone cliffs, palm trees and turquoise waters that offer every kind of water activity to combine with temple visits or hiking. It’s an emerging tropical destination I see becoming more popular in the next few years among those who want to experience an extraordinary adventure in the wilderness while surrounded by breathtaking views, modern-day amenities, and both fun and relaxing experiences.

Tanzanian Mainland

Many tourists also love going to Zanzibar, as it is a truly breathtaking tropical destination full of high-class adventures, however, most are far from affordable. So, instead of travelling to the famous island resorts, try exploring the Tanzanian mainland for a much more budget-friendly price. For example, the Ramada by Wyndham Resort in Dar es Salaam offers high-end rooms for as little as $147 a night. Moreover, it is located along the shores of Jangwani beach, which allures with white sand and turquoise waters. It’s a great way to enjoy the waves of the Indian Ocean while exploring the nearby city centre for culture, art, music and history without breaking the bank. Plus, you can always get on a two-hour ferry heading to Zanzibar or take a direct flight to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Colchagua Valley, Chile

Another exclusive yet affordable luxury travel destination is Colchagua Valley in Chile. It’s one of South America’s premier wine regions that isn’t a tourist central and is therefore more affordable compared to France, Australia, California or other world-renowned wine tasting spots. The Colchagua Valley has vineyards that are more than 100 years old, thanks to a microclimate that delivers the optimum conditions for the production of high-quality vines. I suggest getting the most out of this incredible destination by staying in one of the most prestigious hotels in the country and touring multiple vineyards with a local guide-chauffeur. One of such deluxe accommodations is the Noi Blend Colchagua Hotel that’s built on what was once a 1975 wine cellar. Going for $226 per night and imitating a colonial house that maintains heritage architecture, this hotel is surrounded by vineyards in a unique and quiet environment. In addition, its Blend restaurant offers selected Chilean and international cuisine worth discovering while tasting the best wines across the region.

Destin, Florida

And finally, if you prefer exploring the US instead, one of the cities that could easily compare to Malibu or Miami while being a lot cheaper is Destin in northwest Florida. It’s known for its Emerald Coast, many golf courses, and the Destin Harbour Boardwalk. Destin has a white sandy coastline with crystal clear waters that make it perfect for a beach getaway with breathtaking views and fewer tourist crowds. Many say that it gives out Caribbean vibes without having to take a flight to any of the exotic islands outside the US. Plus, there are plenty of exclusive beach rentals to choose from for as little as $100 per night, located close to some of the most exquisite world-class shopping and fine dining spots. This city offers everything from golfing, rock climbing, and ziplines to snorkelling and dolphin tours to world-class festivals, firework displays, and other unique experiences that don’t have to cost a fortune. If you have ever dreamt of a vacation in Florida, I recommend Destin as a very spectacular yet affordable beachfront destination to add to your travel dupes bucket list.

About the expert

Alonso Marly is a luxury travel expert with over 8 years of experience at Skylux Travel, part of Trevolution Group. Skylux Travel is the go-to solution for business-class travellers looking to save on trips while getting exceptional customer service. Find out more at www.skyluxtravel.com