Often when making travel plans, backpackers especially, tend to select highly contrasting locales and miss out on subtle regional differences. You can easily add to the number of countries you’ve visited for a low price by traveling to national rivals over water.
Last week I asked you, who does your country love to hate, and several of you responded in the comments and via email.
- Sweden – Norway (or Denmark and maybe Finland) – Who would have thought the friendly Swedes and Norwegians would be publishing joke books about each other as Erica tells us. Scandinavians enjoy high standards of living as well as strong currencies, not so good if you’re traveling on a weak dollar.
- Save yourself on hotel and food expenditures by taking one of the many two-night cruises from Stockholm to Oslo, Copenhagen, or Helsinki which will cost you around $300. You can get a window cabin, all-you-can-eat buffets (at additional cost), and see another city without having to pay a full night’s hotel rate.
- Remember to keep all of your receipts since you may be able to reclaim your taxes at the airport.
- Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) – Peru – Hop a flight down to Lima and make your way to the Peruvian coast for a tour of the Galapagos Islands. Not the cheapest option, but these packages usually run you around $3,000 for 2 weeks; equivalent to the same amount of time in London or Rome. Again, usually food and lodging are covered in the price.
- According to Felipe the Peru and Ecuador are trying to patch things up, “we use to definitely have a beef with Peru, we had like 3 wars in 1942, 1982 and 1995, it was all over territory which contains oil, but we signed a peace treaty in 1998 or 99 not sure… lately we been having issues with Colombia because of the guerrilla and the differences in government (left vs. right).” So, maybe a trip to Columbia?
- Greece – Turkey– This couple loves to hate each other, but combined trip makes for a great Mediterranean time. Most people who’ve been to one, haven’t been to the other, which is odd since in many spots along the Aegean, their islands are less than 2 kilometers apart.
- Small boats will ferry back and forth both countries, and although as Darren notes, Turkey is not that cheap anymore, it certainly costs less than the Euro-nation of Greece.
- Both countries are more similar rather than different, something apparent when you see both cultures up close. They are also both intertwined so you can see more Greek ruins in Turkey or visit the house of Turkey’s founder, in Salonica, Greece.
- US (Alaska) – Russia – Tour the open wilderness of the Alaskan coast and eastern Russia. Linda Garrison has a detailed rundown of the most popular cruises in the area, some of which include stops in Japan as well.
Countries that love to hate each other are usually close geographically, have established travel routes, and cultural nuances that will help your understanding of the world. Travel by boat, cruises in particular, are low cost ways to get around and save money on hotels and food.
You’ll increase your travel efficiency by hopping a few borders in a region, rather than trying to stretch yourself all over the globe one at a time.
EDITED: [9/24]: It slipped my mind from my trip to Helsinski from Stockholm, but meals are additional to the cruise fare. The buffets are still generally cheaper than eating in either city, and you can fill up for a good portion of the day.