Key Takeaways:

  • Spots off the beaten path present opportunities for both exciting and accessible trips.
  • More of the world is open at the beginning of 2022 than at the beginning of 2021, but many areas remain either closed or restricted for travelers.
  • The situation remains fluid so flexibility is key.

Find the Best Travel Credit Cards For 2022

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If your main goal for 2022 is to get away from almost everyone on Earth, we’ve got a prime location for you. The White Continent is beckoning, and so are its home populations of penguins and seals!

The best time to visit Antarctica is during Antarctic summer, which is winter in the northern hemisphere. Most Antarctic cruises leave from southern Argentina and travel towards the Antarctic peninsula, often hitting the South Shetland Islands as well as the Falklands and South Georgia. We always recommend Antarctica for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Southern Ocean!

Rewards Spotlight: Lindblad Expeditions and World of Hyatt are partners. That means you can earn World of Hyatt points if you book your expedition through Hyatt, and you can also redeem World of Hyatt points for expeditions. Points are earned at normal rates based on your status, and can be redeemed for around 1.6 cents per point—meaning you’ll need almost one million points to cover even the least expensive journeys to Antarctica, which start around $15,000.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Antigua, Guatemala

The colonial city of Antigua is no secret to travelers but if you haven’t been yet (or even if you have), don’t put it off any longer. The city has developed quickly, making it easier to visit than ever before, but it’s thankfully held onto the history and culture that keeps it special. New craft breweries, speakeasies and farm-to-table restaurants can easily fill a long weekend visit while volcano hikes and community-based tourism can extend it to a week or more. With spring weather year-round and festivals nearly every month, it’s great no matter when you can go.

Rewards Spotlight: After flying into Guatemala City (served by all three major alliances), it’s an easy one-hour Uber ride into Antigua. Travelers can finally redeem points for their hotel stay, too: El Convento Boutique Hotel is an SLH property bookable for 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night whenever cash rates are more than you want to spend.

By Becky Pokora, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Arequipa, Peru

We’re all familiar with Cusco and Lima, but did you know that there is so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu and Salkantay? Located in the southern highlands of Peru lies the White City: Arequipa.

The main square in Arequipa is adorned with stunning stone columns and arches, plus an impressive and stoic basilica. Be sure to take a free walking tour of the city, complete with pisco tasting. Then, head out into the wilderness to explore the nearby volcanoes and gorges. Don’t forget to look up; you might just catch a condor soaring through the wide blue sky!

Rewards Spotlight: You’re out of luck if you want to redeem hotel points to stay in Arequipa, but if you have access to transferable points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can book independent hotels through your bank’s travel portal.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Aswan, Egypt

It’s hard to compete with the only wonder of the ancient world still standing and the clear waters of the Red Sea, but look past the prominent pyramids in Cairo and the swanky resorts in Sharm el-Sheikh and head south to Aswan.

There, you’ll witness one of the greatest feats of archeological engineering. The rock-cut temples of Philae near Aswan and Abu Simbel near the border with Sudan were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile after the construction of the Aswan Low Dam and the Aswan High Dam, respectively. As part of the Nubia Campaign project in the 1960s, UNESCO dismantled the temples brick by brick and reassembled them on higher ground to protect them from submerging under water further.

Rewards Spotlight: Aswan is more than 500 miles from Cairo, and a flight is a much more comfortable option than a train. Use United MileagePlus miles to fly from the U.S. to Cairo, spend enough time to explore the ancient sites, then add on a free stopover, a.k.a. the Excursionist Perk with United, to Aswan and fly back home on the same ticket without using any extra miles. A round-trip journey costs around 94,000 United miles in economy class and 187,000 miles in business class.

By Anya Kartashova, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Atacama Desert, Chile

Deep in the rain shadow of the Chilean Andes, the arid Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet. Incidentally, this lack of moisture makes the region an excellent spot for stargazing and, along those lines, it’s also a great place to put an array of telescopes. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) Telescope is located in the heart of the desert, and it is possible to arrange a tour when the array is open to the public.

On top of activities for astronomy enthusiasts, this vast landscape is full of opportunities for adventurers. Explore a world of volcanoes, canyons, lagoons and salt flats during your visit to this unbelievably special spot on Earth.

Rewards Spotlight: To visit the Atacama Desert, you’ll probably want to base yourself in San Pedro de Atacama. There are plenty of tour operators in the area that can take you on all of the most popular tours, and you can book some of them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with your points. Flights within Chile on LAN are just 6,000 American AAdvantage miles each way, making this a great use of your miles.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Bacalar, Mexico

For most travelers, a visit to Quintana Roo, Mexico, stops once you hit Tulum. But for those who are up for the adventure, a whole world awaits if you drive further south towards the border of Belize. Here is where you’ll find the small lakeside town of Bacalar (and the 34-mile-long lake for which it’s named).

Up until now this bohemian village was a stop on the backpacker trail, and has long-been a favorite vacation spot for locals from Cancun and the nearby city, Chetumal. But a new direct flight from Miami to Chetumal with American Airlines, launched in December 2021, is going to make this part of Mexico so much more accessible to American travelers. Already dubbed “the next Tulum” by The New York Times, the time to visit this spot is 2022, while it still retains its magical, bohemian, eco vibe.

Rewards Spotlight: You can redeem American Airlines miles to cover the cost of the flight from Miami (MIA) to Chetumal (CTM), which is 30 minutes from Bacalar. Round trip flights start at 25,000 miles.

By Meagan Drillinger, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Asheville, NC, is the hip New South personified: Microbreweries, trendy restaurants, museums and hip art galleries jostle for space with million-dollar condos downtown. The climate is great most of the year, aided by Asheville’s 2,000-foot elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains, far closer to Kentucky than to the ocean. The nearby Biltmore Estate can be an alluring all-day visit.

Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, nearby Boone, NC offers a scenic retreat from everyday life. Whether you’re craving a peaceful escape with stunning mountain views, outdoor adventures, or a visit back in time to the 140-year-old Mast General Store, Boone has something to offer everyone. From traditional southern comfort food at the iconic Dan’l Boone Inn to unique wild game dishes at the Gamekeeper Restaurant, foodies can experience delicious flavors to their heart’s content.

Throughout 2022, the town has dozens of local events that will appeal to travelers of all ages. If you’re fortunate to visit during the fall, pumpkin picking and other farm fun at the New River Corn Maze is an experience you don’t want to miss.

Rewards Spotlight: Asheville has plenty of hotels to choose from, but if you want to be within stumbling distance of a bunch of breweries, the Aloft Asheville Downtown is a fantastic choice. As a Category 6 Marriott property, rates start at 40,000 Bonvoy points per night and it even means that you can use your Marriott credit card certificates for stays at the hotel (point surcharge may apply depending on which certificates you have).

By Michelle Lambright Black, Forbes Advisor Contributor, Bill Howard, Forbes Wheels Staff and Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Cannon Beach, OR

It’s impossible to not feel relaxed in this sometimes chilly, often gray and always charming coast town. From breathtaking hiking views in Ecola State Park to tasty seasonal eats in the heart of town, Cannon Beach knows how to feed both the body and soul. The local arts are vibrant—you can stand in the glass shop downtown and watch the glassblowers work for hours without realizing any time has passed at all—and there’s no better way to end a day than with a bonfire on the beach admiring Haystack Rock in the shallow waters.

Rewards Spotlight: The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Seaside is just fifteen minutes down the road from Cannon Beach and gets solid reviews for comfortable beds and cleanliness. Rates vary between 20,000 and 30,000 IHG points per night with the fourth night free if you have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card*.

By Alena Hall, Forbes Health Staff and Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Çeşme, Turkey

If you’d like to visit Turkey but want to explore something away from Istanbul, head down to Çeşme and Alaçati. These pleasant peninsular towns are speckled with Ottoman military remnants, but function today as havens for holidaymakers.

Çeşme is ideal for a beach holiday along the sparkling Aegean Sea, whereas Alaçati is better suited for an afternoon of shopping and cafe hopping. Definitely stop by Babushka Alaçati for a delicious home-cooked meal while you’re at it (note: closed during the off season). Enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor activities during your visit to this western-Turkish peninsula.

Rewards Spotlight: The Radisson Blu Çeşme is a luxurious but affordable option. It has its own indoor and outdoor pools, beach, spa and hammam, and is also within easy driving distance of other beaches in the area as well as Alaçati. The Category 3 hotel costs 45,000 Radisson Rewards points per night, which can be a deal during high season, but rates can be very reasonable so always compare.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Chesapeake Bay

Many flock to the Atlantic Ocean every summer, but savvy travelers look to the Chesapeake Bay for sun and fun. The eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland are dotted with charming towns and even Assateague National Park featuring wild horses frollicking on the beach.

Around the bay you’ll find DC urbanites looking for an escape from the city mingling easily with lifetime residents, making it the rare spot where you can get a vegan chai and a bucket of fresh blue crabs at the same stop. And if you’re there in a month ending in -r, be sure to slurp some O’s and Bo’s (local oysters enjoyed with National Bohemian beer).

Rewards Spotlight: The Hyatt Chesapeake Bay Resort and Marina is one of the only family resorts in the Mid-Atlantic featuring daily activities for kids, three pools, a full service spa and golf courses of the 18-hole, mini and frisbee varieties. Since it faces west on the Choptank river, you’ll be treated with wonderful sunsets from the infinity pool, hopefully with a frosty drink in hand. The hotel is a Category 4 costing 15,000 World of Hyatt points on standard season rates, which can be a bargain compared to rates over $300 on some weekends.

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Costalegre, Mexico

The Costalegre is one of Mexico’s last coasts. The rugged coastline runs south from Puerto Vallarta to the next major city, Manzanillo. In between is 150 miles of protected natural coast, thick with palm forests, lush jungle-covered mountains, and wild beaches that stretch endlessly for miles.

Just a few high-end hotels are scattered along the Costalegre, but all is set to change in the next few years as resorts like the Four Seasons and a new luxe project called Xala are slated to open. Improvements to the highway and a new airport will make the Costalegre much more accessible—and popular—very, very soon.

Rewards Spotlight: While the Four Seasons Tamarindo is not on the American Express Travel platform yet, chances are it will be, seeing as the other Four Seasons resorts in Mexico are available to pool with American Express Membership Rewards. For now, you can book the Hotel Mousai Puerto Vallarta using your Amex points. This luxury all-inclusive resort is south of Puerto Vallarta at the very, very beginning of what becomes the Costalegre.

By Meagan Drillinger, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Crete, Greece

It can be pretty difficult to decide which Greek island to visit, but we highly recommend checking out Crete. This large island is located right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between mainland Greece and the Libyan-Egyptian border, so it’s an ideal hotspot if you’d like to explore some other exciting places in addition to your island getaway.

Crete is tailor-made for travelers who enjoy being near the beach and the mountains. Stretch out on the pebbly beaches and let the warm waters of the Mediterranean wash over you, or rent a 4×4 and tackle the long, winding mountain roads up to Pákhnes and Spathi peaks.

Rewards Spotlight: If you want to be within striking distance of many of Crete’s top places to visit, consider staying in the middle of the island at The Royal Senses Resort & Spa, Crete, Curio Collection by Hilton. As with many five star resorts in Greece, this hotel can be quite expensive, but it tends to cost less than hotels on more popular islands like Santorini and Mykonos. In the summer, it’s common to see weekend rates around 400 EUR per night with point redemptions starting around 90,000 Hilton Honors points per night with the fifth night free if you have status with Hilton. You can also use your free weekend night certificate from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express* to stay here.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Dakhla, Morocco

Down on the Western Sahara side of Morocco lies the region of Dakhla, an ancient Berber settlement sticking out into the sea. A lesser-known area of western Africa, Dakhla draws the majority of its income from fishing, oyster hunting and tourism—and even more especially kitesurfers.

This is a perfect place for those looking for something away from the bustling crowds of Casablanca and Marrakech, but someplace that still has a well-established tourism industry. Enjoy a few lazy days on the beach, making sure to take in some of the best sunsets around.

Rewards Spotlight: If you’re going to Dakhla primarily to kitesurf, consider staying in a camp near the lagoon instead of in town. You’re not going to find points hotels in either location, but you can use flexible rewards like American Express Membership Rewards points if you book directly through your bank’s travel portal. Keep in mind that it may make more sense to book a package deal that includes rentals and lessons directly through the hotel or resort you choose.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Durango, Colorado (Million Dollar Highway)

Hidden away in the Rocky Mountains is the beautiful town of Durango, Colorado. This quaint city is the gateway to some of the most beautiful vistas in the region—if you’re brave enough to make the drive! The Million Dollar Highway starts here and winds its way 40 miles north through Silverton and Ouray, giving travelers jaw-dropping views of peaks and valleys as you hug the cliffside road. This excursion has the added benefit of being something you can do from the privacy of your own vehicle, if you’d prefer to keep your distance from other tourists.

For a more exclusive route, hop on board the Durango & Silverton Railroad for a day trip excursion along the Animas River that provides stunning views you can’t see by car.

Rewards Spotlight: If you have Hilton Honors points to burn, consider staying at the Homewood Suites, Durango. It’s a solid option even if you’re still social distancing considering there’s an in-suite kitchen in every room. You can pay with points starting around 37,000 Hilton Honors points per night, but always compare with cash rates before booking to make sure you’re getting enough value from your point.

By Cassandra Bottorff, Forbes Advisor Staff and Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

El Salvador

Although Central America is a popular region among travelers, many overlook El Salvador for its more famous neighbors. From surfing in El Tunco to hiking in Santa Ana, from taking a glimpse into the country’s colonial past in Suchitoto to filling your belly at a food festival in Juayua, El Salvador has something for everyone.

Foodies especially will enjoy Juayua, a small village on the Ruta De Las Flores. An open-air food festival called La Feria Gastronomica takes place at the town’s main square every weekend. Locals from the surrounding villages assemble in the square to sell their specialties, and you can walk from stall to stall to savor the offerings. The other villages on Ruta De Las Flores, including Apaneca, Ataco, Nahuizalco and Salcoatitan, boast lots of colorful murals and are fun to explore by chicken bus.

Rewards Spotlight: It’s possible to book flights from the U.S. to San Salvador (SAL), the capital of El Salvador, for 12,500 miles through the American Airlines AAdvantage program. If you’re flexible with dates, you can even find flights starting at 10,000 miles each way. It’s hard to beat such a low redemption rate.

By Anya Kartashova, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Most of us have heard of this volcanic archipelago since it plays host to some of Darwin’s most famous studies, but how many of us have actually been there? Technically an Ecuadorian territory, the Galapagos Islands are famous for some of planet Earth’s most enticing biodiversity.

Besides the famed Giant Tortoises, the Galapagos are home to a huge variety of birds, lizards and sea creatures. Try to hop as many islands as you can, and don’t miss a visit to Floreana: the site of the infamous Galapagos Affair!

Rewards Spotlight: Getting to the Galapagos can be expensive. If you’d like to save on your flights, consider booking a trip to Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE) and then redeeming Delta miles to get to the Galapagos Islands. A flight from mainland Ecuador to the islands will only set you back 15,000 Delta SkyMiles each way in economy.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Who says you have to leave the midwest to have a great time? Proud home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, Green Bay is the oldest settlement in Wisconsin. Be sure to check out the Packers’ Lambeau Field during your stay, whether it’s on or off-season.

Located right on the water, visitors find plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, fall foliage or dreamy winter snowscapes. If you’re a beer lover, don’t miss a stop at Badger State Brewing Company for a flight of true Green Bay brews and an amazing flatbread pizza at Strada Pizzeria in nearby De Pere.

Rewards Spotlight: Points hotels abound in Green Bay. For an option near Lambeau Field and within walking distance of many restaurants and other activities, consider the Springhill Suites Green Bay. This hotel is a Category 5 Marriott property starting at 30,000 points per night, meaning you’ll be able to use your Marriott hotel certificate valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points on all but peak season nights.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Take your average waterfall and multiply it by 275 to get an idea of Iguazu Falls. This immense quantity of individual waterfalls collectively make up the world’s largest waterfall, the star of which, Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), is close to a football field in width. The rainbows often seen in the mist are just icing on the world wonder of a cake.

You can visit Iguazu from either Argentina or Brazil. Argentina is the more scenic of the two as it holds eighty percent of the actual waterfalls. The national park surrounding the falls would be a destination on its own and is home to varied wildlife including coati and monkeys. Just be careful taking any food into the park as the native fauna can become aggressive in their quest for your granola bar.

Rewards Spotlight: LAN has frequent flights between Buenos Aires and Iguazu. Be sure to note that most Iguazu flights take off from AEP, the city airport, and not EZE, which is the gateway to most of the world. Flights within Argentina cost just 6,000 AAdvantage miles each way, making this a valuable use of miles.

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Istanbul, Turkey

Skirting the boundary between Europe and Asia lies one of the world’s most influential cities: Istanbul. With the Black Sea on one end and the Sea of Marmara on the other, this iconic port town holds incredible history, culture and relevance.

Explore the famous Hagia Sofia and Dolmabahçe Palace, but take some time to explore the lesser-known corners of the city too. Turkish food alone is enough to make anyone fall in love with Istanbul, so don’t be afraid to indulge in new flavors.

Rewards Spotlight: There are so many hotels to choose from in Istanbul that finding the best value for your points might give you analysis paralysis. A better option is to choose which area of the city you want to stay in and go from there. A personal favorite area is Galata, and the nearby Radisson Blu Pera is a convenient base at only 30,000 Radisson points per night.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Jerez, Spain

When you think of wine tasting in Europe, your thoughts probably go to Italy or France. For a unique experience, check out the sherry capital of the world. Jerez de la Frontera, in southern Spain, offers numerous bodega tours and tastings including even the world’s first “Sherry Hotel” in partnership with Tio Pepe.

Although the word “jerez” means “sherry”, there’s much more to the region than fortified wine. Nearby Baelo Claudia, a well-preserved Roman settlement, sports a stunning setting on the straits of Gibraltar. And if the straits are here, the rock of Gibraltar can’t be far away. There are few places on Earth where you can have breakfast in Spain, lunch in Ancient Rome and dinner in Merry Old England.

Rewards Spotlight: The easiest gateway to southern Spain is Malaga (AGP), which is well served by Iberia among other airlines. The best way to book flights from the U.S. is via either Iberia or British Airways Avios. Off-peak business class flights can go as low as 34,000 Avios each way from the East Coast. The region is a dream for driving, featuring both stunning sea views around every corner and what seems like oceans of sunflowers in the summertime.

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Kona, Hawaii

Situated on the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kona is a tropical hotspot ideal for replenishing your long-lost Vitamin D without the crowds that the other Hawaiian islands have. Relax on the beach or head across the island to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for an other-worldly adventure.

If you’re somehow sick of the Sun and want to explore the creepy things that live in the dark, Kona offers a variety of black water nighttime dives. Plunge into the deep dark beyond where the mantas glide and the jellies glow!

Rewards Spotlight: The Big Island doesn’t have as many points hotel options as some of the other islands, but if you have Marriott Bonvoy points, you’ll have a few to choose from. If you’re set on staying near Kona, consider the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel which starts at 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. If you’re looking for a little more luxury and willing to venture a little farther from the city, consider the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, an Autograph Collection property that starts at 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Lago de Braies, Italy

Located in the heart of the Italian South Tyrolean Dolomites, the intense emerald green water of Lago di Braies, also known by its German name, Pragser Wildsee, is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Europe. You can reach the lake by public transportation (bus) or car.

Once there, you can rent a boat and row around or hop on one of the many trails surrounding the lake and explore the area. And speaking of trails, this lake also marks the start of the famous alpine hike, Alta via N. 1 trail, which climbs and winds through some of the most beautiful parts of the Italian Alps.

Rewards Spotlight: There are several hotels scattered around the lake area but none are chain hotels with loyalty programs. To snag a free stay, you can apply for the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card that comes with up to a $300 travel credit when you book through the Capital One travel portal, which just so happens to have many of these hotels available for booking.

By Toni Perkins-Southam

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid, NY, will never host its third Olympics–too small now–yet it’s always a great destination with winter and summer recreation, fall foliage, or walks along Mirror Lake. The waterfront is now studded with trophy homes of the affluent. Their money attracted better hotels, spas and high-end as well as casual dining (try Lake Placid Pub & Brewery). The greater charm is outside the town: the 9,400 square miles of the lightly settled Adirondack Park, three times the size of Yellowstone. All five hours north of New York City.

Rewards Spotlight: The Mirror Lake Inn’s setting is straight out of central casting. Floor to ceiling windows and balconies let you take it all in no matter the season. Rates range from 21,000 to 29,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

By Bill Howard, Forbes Wheels Staff and Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Malolo Island, Fiji

Fiji is home to some of the friendliest people on earth, you’ll always be warmly welcomed with the traditional “Bula!” greetings. From surfing at Cloudbreak, to snorkeling or diving its reefs and exploring underwater caves, to just spending the day paddleboarding on water, Fiji is an ocean lover’s dream.

Malolo Island is a short boat or helicopter ride from Denarau and there you’ll find five resorts to choose from. Once on island, spend the days hiking, at the spa, or just relaxing by your private pool at the Six Senses Malolo Island. As the waters around Malolo island are a designated turtle breeding ground, you’ll have a chance to see sea turtles, reef sharks, and sting rays on a dive or snorkel in the area. You can also take in a local cooking class or visit a local village to really experience Fijian hospitality. Don’t forget to participate in a Kava ceremony while you’re there.

Rewards Spotlight: Fiji can be reached in Business Class for as few as 55,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles each way. You can also redeem 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles or 40,000 miles in economy for either program.

By Samir Bhatnagar, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Liguria, Italy

Forget the French Riviera and the Tuscan Sun. The gem of the Mediterranean lies between the two in Liguria. A region forgotten by both time and tourism, Liguria has the same coastline, the same views and an even richer history than its neighbors. And it’s all at a fraction of the price compared to elsewhere along the Med.

When you enter the town of Dolceacqua, you might think to yourself “this looks like a Monet.” That’s because it is. The artist took up residence in Liguria in 1884 and painted a number of works here, most notably “Dolceacqua, Bridge” which resides in the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts.

Rewards Spotlight: Liguria is served best by Air France via Nice (NCE). Use Delta Skymiles, Virgin Atlantic points or KLM/Air France Flying Blue. You can find flights in the summertime from 55,000 Flying Blue miles round trip. Be aware that driving a rental car in the region, while technically easy, can be a challenge financially. Towns in Italy are notorious for setting up residential parking and driving areas that are not easily understood, then sending tickets to rental car companies weeks or even months after your visit.

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Marseille, France

If you find Paris too crowded and Cannes too expensive, Marseille might be just right. The city is a vibrant melange of waterfront vistas and classic French culture, with a dash of Northern Africa thrown in. Border towns get a bad rap (looking at you, Tijuana) but Marseille acts as a gateway to the former French colonies of Morocco and Tunisia in a yummy way. On the harbor you can dine on the classic French bouillabaisse for lunch and Tunisian chicken tagine served in a traditional clay pot for dinner.

If you’re a frequent traveler you probably have a lifetime’s worth of hotel soap, but even fully stocked tourists might be tempted to pick up some Marseille soap, especially since you can make your own in the “soap museum” on the harbor. You also might want to pick up a classic Breton striped long sleeved T-shirt at Le Marseillais to channel your inner Grace Kelly.

Rewards Spotlight: The InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu sports a prime location with some of the best views of Marseille. The hotel is in an impeccably restored hospital but there was also a secret Roman ruin found within the hotel during renovation. Ask the Concierge for a tour. Use your IHG points for a stay at the IC Marseille, with the bonus of the fourth night free if you have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card*. Rates vary but hover around 55,000 points per night.

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Mendoza, Argentina

If you’re yearning for a visit to a South American wine country, Mendoza is the place. This region is ideal for those wishing to explore Argentina’s favorite wine bodegas, many of which produce an excellent Malbec.

If you don’t want to leave the city of Mendoza, don’t worry! You’ll still find wineries all over the place within the city limits. However, we suggest heading out into the countryside of the Mendoza province for a more peaceful, romantic getaway at a rustic, charming bodega.

Rewards Spotlight: For a luxury hotel experience right in the middle of town, look no further than the Park Hyatt Mendoza. As a Category 3 Hyatt property, it’s bookable starting at only 9,000 World of Hyatt points during off-peak dates. During standard season, it clocks in at a still-reasonable 12,000 points per night.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Moab, Utah to Denver, Colorado (Rocky Mountaineer)

Climbers, hikers and rafters agree: Moab is the best Utah stop for outdoor adventures. Located just outside the entrance to Arches National Park, Moab is an ideal home base for National Park hopping, climbing trips to Indian Creek or rafting down the Colorado River.

Speaking of Colorado, Moab is the westernmost stop on Rocky Mountaineer’s two-day train trip to Denver. Hop on board and enjoy the ride as the train winds its way through the red sandstone formations of Utah, then crosses the Continental Divide and descends into Denver.

Rewards Spotlight: While you can’t redeem Amtrak points for the Rocky Mountaineer, you can either use your flexible points, like those earned through the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or consider redeeming points on the same route with Amtrak. The Amtrak won’t make an overnight stop in Glenwood Springs, but you can redeem for a seat, roomette or family room and even continue your journey beyond Moab and Denver.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff


You can get the best of a European vacation all wrapped up in a small package if you head to Montenegro. Discover the medieval city of Kotor before hopping along the coastline to smaller towns full of wineries, beaches and some of the freshest seafood along the Adriatic. Then, head inland to the second longest canyon in the world, Tara River Canyon, or the impressive mountains at Durmitor and Prokletije National Parks.

Rewards Spotlight: New nonstop flights from Newark (EWR) to Dubrovnik, Croatia (DBV) leave you less than a half hour away from the Montenegrin border making it easier than ever to explore this country. One-way flights can be booked for 30,000 United miles in economy (with similar pricing through most United partners). Sadly, business class availability on this popular route is sparse.

By Becky Pokora, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Natural Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites, Italy

The National Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites is one of the best ways to experience what is considered the most beautiful mountains in the entire Alps mountain range. Visit during the summer to hike along one or several of the eight Alta Via treks to experience parts of the Dolomites not accessible any other way.

If overnight backpacking trips are not your thing, make your base in the town of Cortina D’Ampezzo and take day trips. You can day hike around natural sites like Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Cinque Torri or even see some of the relics from many World War I battlefields.

Reward Spotlight: Cortina d’Ampezzo doesn’t have many hotels, but it just so happens to have a Radisson property. The luxurious Grand Hotel Savoia Cortina d’Ampezzo, A Radisson Collection Hotel is loaded with high-end features and amenities and unbeatable views of the Dolomites. You can use your Radisson points to stay a free night or two or three. The property runs 75,000 Radisson points per night, which is an absolute bargain as the cash price runs over $600 per night.

By Toni Perkins-Southam, Forbes Advisor Contributor

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia

Easily accessible from much of the eastern U.S., the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve offers a diversity of experiences unparalleled by most other parks. Activities here go beyond the traditional hiking, scenic drives and photography you’ll find everywhere. You can mountain bike, whitewater raft or try rock climbing.

Travelers who aren’t seeking adrenaline-inducing adventures will still love the park for its sweeping vistas over a deep gorge and the world’s longest-spanning steel arch. There’s also a lot to explore in the park’s historical districts and amongst its coal mining history. In short, you won’t get bored here.

Reward Spotlight: The park has several access points, which gives travelers lots of choices on how to use their points to visit. Fly into Charleston, WV (CRW) on American, Delta or United flights. Hotels in the area are typically inexpensive so a points stay might not make sense, but we’ve rounded up several options nonetheless.

By Becky Pokora, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Oaxaca, Mexico

Most people who visit Mexico flock to the beaches, but for a true taste of Mexico head inland to Oaxaca. Home to seven types of mole, Oaxaca is well known for its foodie culture with many classically trained chefs returning home to open restaurants in the city. Best of all, Oaxaca is a bargain where you can dine like royalty for a fraction of the cost in most major cities.

There’s never a bad time to visit, but if you’ve ever wanted to visit the set of the movie Coco, Oaxaca’s Dia de los Muertos celebration in October and November is about as close as you’ll get on this earthly plane.

Rewards Spotlight: Oaxaca is easy to get to using Delta Skymiles (via AeroMexico) or American Airlines and United Airlines both fly directly to Oaxaca from Texas. To truly get a feel for Oaxaca, your best bet is an independent rental. Fortunately, Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers Pay Yourself Back on Airbnb at 1.5 cents per point (currently through March 31, 2022).

By Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For a sunny trip down Mexico way, head to Playa del Carmen. This beachfront city is perfect for snorkelers and divers, particularly those who are interested in exploring reef systems and visiting several species of sharks. You’ll find both bull sharks and whale sharks, especially out by Isla Mujeres.

Playa del Carmen is also known for its cenotes (caves) with stunning blue lagoons and secret rivers—even open water certified divers can dive in the cenotes but it’s also one of the best places in the world to learn how to cave dive. Plus, it’s only an hour ferry away from more great diving in Cozumel if you fancy some time under the sea. Outdoor and underwater adventures abound when in Playa del Carmen!

Rewards Spotlight: The Thompson Main House and Thompson Beach House are two luxury Hyatt-affiliated options in Playa del Carmen. The Thompson Beach House is, you guessed it, closer to the beach and typically charges a price premium over the Main House. If you’re planning to explore all that Playa del Carmen has to offer anyway, go for the still-amazing Main House with award rates of 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night during standard season dates.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Red Mountain, British Columbia

We’ve mentioned quite a few beach and desert getaways, but what about those of us who just want to hit the slopes? Head up to the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia to Red Mountain, where you can find a route for skiers of all skill levels.

RED Mountain Resort is the ski hub of Red Mountain, offering nearly 120 marked runs over five different peaks. Bring the entire family for an unforgettable experience, pristine powder and limitless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, plus there’s amazing snow cat touring to be done nearby with Big Red Cats.

Rewards Spotlight: Another destination where flexible points are going to serve you best—consider redeeming your American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points for nearby hotels if you’re looking to save on lodging. There is a Best Western in nearby Trail, which is likely where you’ll fly into if you don’t want to roadtrip from Spokane, Washington.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia truly is a Caribbean island all its own. Far less developed than some of its neighbors, it maintains a strong hold on its local culture, untamed forests and beautiful diving waters. Hikers must take a day to climb Gros Piton, one of the epic mountains on the west coast of the island. And a trip to Saint Lucia isn’t complete without a dip in the famous, youth-promoting sulfur springs, too. Full of fishing villages and fresh markets, the island makes eating local and seasonal food a delicious experience, so lean into the flavors as much as you can.

Rewards Spotlight: American Airlines flies to St. Lucia (UVF) via Miami (MIA) and Web Specials can be found for as low as 10,000 AAdvantage miles each way.

By Alena Hall, Forbes Health Staff and Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

San Juan del Obispo, Guatemala

When you think of Guatemala, the first place that probably pops into mind is the colonial and UNESCO designated city of Antigua, and rightfully so—it’s an incredible place. But right outside of Antigua is a small, lesser known village known as San Juan del Obispo.

Nestled next to the volcano Agua, the town offers a unique experience with a quiet and peaceful vibe and incredible views of the surrounding area. It has its own cathedral, a chocolate museum and the most beautiful views of the active volcano Fuego. And when you are ready to explore outside the village, you can easily hop a “chicken bus” or an Uber and visit a nearby Macadamia farm, eat at the Earth Lodge, hike a second active volcano (Pacaya), and so much more.

Rewards Spotlight: San Juan del Obispo does not have any hotels, but its vacation rental options are hands down the best value in the area. Use a fixed value credit card like the or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card to cover your costs.

By Toni Perkins-Southam, Forbes Advisor Contributor

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Flanked by beautiful bays and full of things to do, San Juan del Sur is a lovely spot for a Central American beach getaway. Located on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, this beach town is ideal for folks who love to be on the water.

From San Juan del Sur, it’s a relatively quick drive to Lago Cocibolca where the wondrous Ometepe Island is found. Ometepe is the home of two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, which beckon hikers and explorers from all around the globe.

Rewards Spotlight: If you want to stay in San Juan del Sur, you’ll have to book an independent hotel. Consider using a credit card that offers flexible rewards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card so you can reimburse your travel expenses.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

For travelers who are looking for a combination of sandy beaches, Caribbean colonial history and colorful culture, Santo Domingo is a great option. As you wander down the cobblestone streets, you are greeted with remnants of Santo Domingo’s days as a Spanish colony intermingled with the highrises of today’s commerce.

If you can tear yourself away from the resort communities, you’ll discover a vibrant city full of music, bookstores, street markets and buzzing nightlife. Pop underground and discover a completely different world; a network of subterranean limestone caves holds lagoons, lakes and ancient secrets to discover.

Rewards Spotlight: Your vacation doesn’t have to end when you leave the resort when you visit the Dominican Republic. End your trip in Punta Cana and when you fly out with access to Priority Pass lounges (available through many premium credit cards), you’ll be able to chill in the pool overlooking the runway before your flight.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Savannah, Georgia

You don’t have to leave the United States to go back in time. Savannah is almost 300 years old and prides itself on the ghosts that inhabit the city. Ghost City Tours counts 37 haunted spots in the (g)Hostess City including one that hosts a ghost cat. But don’t worry—Savannah has its earthly pleasures as well. Don’t miss the duck fat fries at Sandfly BBQ, which is housed in a Streamliner train car.

If you prefer exercise to exorcism, drive an hour down the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Hilton Head is a beach town unlike most other East Coast beach towns, with a decidedly upscale and mellow vibe including miles of hiking paths. It’s hard to find crowds in Hilton Head, even in peak season, and it’s more resort and community based than your standard boardwalk.

Rewards Spotlight: IHG is well represented in Savannah, with five hotels within the historic district. Prices start at 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night, with the fourth night free if you have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card*.

Sint Maarten/St. Martin

Did you know that this one Caribbean island represents two separate European colonies? The northern half of the island, St. Martin, is a French territory whereas the southern half, Sint Maarten, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Visit Great Bay Beach and its landmark Fort Amsterdam, or enjoy the turquoise blue waters of Baie de Marigot from its landmark, Fort St. Louis. Take a coastal hike or head up to the lush rainforest interior where the invisible, squiggly border divides the island. Better yet, take your sweetheart over to Lovers Beach for a sunset picnic. And even if you’re not that into planes, don’t miss a stop at Maho Beach, at the approach end of St. Maarten’s airport (SXM) to see large jets just overhead.

Rewards Spotlight: St. Maarten is one of those somewhat rare Caribbean islands without much in the way of hotels to use your points, but you can still use miles to get there. During non-peak dates, you’ll be able to find awards with American Airlines starting at 10,000 miles each way in economy, though more commonly expect to pay 12,500 to 14,500 miles each way.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff


The northern countries of South America don’t get enough hype, and the former Dutch colony Suriname is no exception. This small but culturally diverse nation lies where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, sandwiched between French Guiana and Guyana.

Spend some time in the capital city of Paramaribo, visit the settlements along the shores of the Suriname river and head south into the lush rainforests that cover the majority of the country. Tuck away into a jungle resort and unplug; stay for as long as you like.

Rewards Spotlight: Suriname isn’t the easiest place to get to, with only one flight option from the U.S. via Miami (MIA) to Paramaribo (PBM) on American Airlines. Flight options also exist through Panama City, Panama (PTY) on Copa. Even though you don’t have many options, you can still use your miles. You can book flights on American Airlines starting at 12,500 AAdvantage miles in economy or you can book flights on Copa by redeeming United miles starting at 22,000 MileagePlus miles.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo, or as the locals refer to it, Tama, is located in the Guanacaste Province on the northern Pacific coast of the country. Surfing enthusiasts flock to Tamarindo for its famous waves. But Tama isn’t just for the pros. Beginners can also learn to surf here or grab a boogie board and hit the waves a different way.

Tamarindo is more than just watersports, though. There are multiple opportunities for ecotourism. Take a day tour to see sloths in their natural habitats, visit the Tenorio National Volcano Park and take a dip in the Cataratas Llanos de Cortés. The adventures are endless.

Rewards Spotlight: Thanks to its popularity among U.S. travelers, getting to Costa Rica from the United States is easy. To visit Tamarindo, you’ll want to fly into Liberia International Airport (LIR). All of the major U.S. airlines including Delta, American Airlines, United, Southwest and JetBlue fly into this airport and each has its own loyalty program you can use miles to book your trip.

If you aren’t traveling solo and really want to score a deal to Costa Rica, check out the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. Holders of the Companion Pass can take one partner of their choosing with them for almost free (you’ll need to pay taxes and fees), whenever they fly Southwest.

By Toni Perkins-Southam, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Tbilisi, Georgia

With a generous visa-free policy of up to 365 days for many passport holders, U.S. passports included, Georgia is a haven for digital nomads, history buffs and wine enthusiasts alike.

Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, is famous for its sulfur hot springs—the city’s name literally means “warm place” in Old Georgian. Visit one of the brick bathhouses in the Abanotubani district, order a scrub and say goodbye to at least three layers of skin after a massage therapist is done with you. Other city highlights include a cable car to Narikala Fortress and Kartlis Deda monument (a.k.a. Mother of Georgia), the Georgian National Museum and the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater (it sells out quickly, therefore buy tickets in advance).

Foodies won’t leave disappointed after tasting khachapuri (cheese bread), shkmeruli (chicken in garlic sauce) and lobio (bean stew) at Salobie Bia restaurant (17 Shota Rustaveli Ave).

Tbilisi is also a great base for exploring other regions of the country, such as Kakheti for winemaking and Mtskheta-Mtianeti for hiking.

Rewards spotlight: About 30 airlines fly to Tbilisi International Airport, including Air France, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, so there’s plenty of options to use your rewards for flights. Georgia falls into the Europe zone on most award charts, which means a one-way flight from the U.S. will set you back about 30,000 miles each way in economy.

By Anya Kartashova, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Todos Santos, Mexico

Two hours north of Cabo San Lucas, you’ll find the bohemian seaside village of Todos Santos. Long on the maps of surfers, mystics, and healers, this vortex of energy is a once-dusty fishing village-turned-boutique paradise.

Today the sandy streets are lined with artisan shops, designer galleries, and chic hotels. Feast on fresh oysters and sip local wines from the nearby Valle de Guadalupe, or dig your toes in the sand at the wild, rugged beaches and simply watch the surfers roll in.

Rewards Spotlight: Todos Santos has many hotels available via the American Express Membership Rewards portal. A quick search through the American Express Travel site reveals a handful of high-end Todos Santos hotels that you can book right now.

By Meagan Drillinger, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Trinidad and Tobago

If you can’t decide whether to visit Trinidad or Tobago, why not hit both? The larger and more populated Trinidad is famous for its energetic culture, Creole roots, calypso music and diverse food options. The smaller Tobago is better known as a natural getaway, featuring many idyllic beaches and a spectacular forest reserve.

Trinidad and Tobago are great for travelers who love to birdwatch, as the island nation hosts a variety of bird species. Most notably, the forests of Tobago are home to 18 different species of hummingbirds! If you’re into food, don’t miss your chance to try doubles and other local specialties.

Rewards Spotlight: You’re not going to want to miss a stroll around Queen’s Park Savannah, so why not stay at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center just a stone’s throw away from the park. Reward nights at this property start around 38,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

By Caroline Lupini, Forbes Advisor Staff

United Arab Emirates

There’s no better time to visit the U.A.E. than the “year of the 50th,” a long-lasting celebration to commemorate the nation’s accomplishments since its formation in 1971. In addition, Dubai is playing host to the World Expo—which only comes around once every five years—through March 31, 2022. When you’ve had your fill of fireworks and festivities, head to the country’s quieter side by joining tours to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve or Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi.

Rewards Spotlight: Two of the world’s grandest airlines, Emirates and Etihad, are both based in the United Arab Emirates. With miles, it’s relatively straightforward to try out both first class cabins by flying one direction on each before choosing your favorite. Expect to pay 136,250 Emirates miles for a one-way trip between the east coast and Dubai in first class. For Etihad first class, you can book using 115,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles one-way.

By Becky Pokora, Forbes Advisor Contributor


Uzbekistan’s impressive infrastructure will have you travel from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva—stops on the Great Silk Road—with ease. Three of the cities are well-connected by high-speed trains, and Khiva is connected to Bukhara by a Soviet-era train, which is fun to ride if you find Soviet stuff fascinating.

Each city on the itinerary (except Tashkent) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a lot to offer in terms of sights. Khiva’s old town, Itchan Kala, was the first Uzbek city to be included on the list of cultural sites. In Bukhara, don’t miss its many ornate ancient madrasas (schools), visit the Ark of Bukhara and don’t forget to shop for souvenirs at the trading domes. Samarkand, of course, stuns with its exquisite Registan Square. In Tashkent, eat as much plov, a traditional rice dish typically made with lamb and grated carrots, until your pants burst at the seams.

Rewards spotlight: Hyatt Regency Tashkent is what can only be described as pure luxury. The breakfast buffet alone, which you get for free as a Globalist, is out of this world. As a Category 3 property, it’ll set you back 9,000 to 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night in a standard room, depending on whether you book during off-peak, standard or peak season.

By Anya Kartashova, Forbes Advisor Contributor

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Travelers still looking to stay close to home don’t need to look any further than the White Mountains, an easy two-hour drive from Boston. Here, you’ll be in the perfect position to explore scenic favorites like Franconia Notch State Park, the Kancamagus Highway and Mt. Washington.

Although it’s a year-round destination, go in winter for access to skiing and other winter sports, plus the dazzling Ice Castles exhibition which is hand-sculpted each year and lit with colored LEDs for a magical winter wonderland.

Rewards Spotlight: The region has numerous Vacasa vacation rentals ideal for family ski vacations which can be booked using Wyndham Guest Rewards (a Citi and Capital One transfer partner) for 15,000 points per bedroom per night.

By Becky Pokora, Forbes Advisor Contributor

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

The newest member of the National Parks system in the U.S., White Sands, is located in southern New Mexico just outside the city of Alamogordo. Deteriorated gypsum crystals make up the 145,762 acres of white sand this park is famous for.

With dunes that reach up to 60 feet high, make sure to grab some wax and a sled and enjoy hours of fun riding down the Dunes. Tip: You can buy or rent sleds at the visitors center, but the lines are long and the equipment is overpriced. Instead, grab your own for just a few dollars in the nearby town. You can also hike several trails, have a picnic and so much more. Whatever you do, make sure to stick around for the sunset, which is like no other.

Rewards Spotlight: You can’t stay in White Sands, but fortunately, there is a nearby town called Alamogordo with lots of chain hotels you can book with points. The drive is only about 20 miles from one to the other. You’ll find Hilton, Marriott, Choice Hotels, Wyndham, Best Western and a handful of other properties all within the town.

The Fairfield Inn is a great property in Alamogordo where you can really score outsized value when using points. At around $254 a night, the hotel isn’t particularly cheap. Instead, you can use just 17,500 Marriott Bonvoy points per night with the fifth night free.

Read More: Marriott Bonvoy: The Ultimate Guide

By Toni Perkins-Southam, Forbes Advisor Contributor

Whitstable, Kent

A short drive South from London and you will find yourself at the shores of Whitstable, Kent which has long been a welcome distraction away from the hustle and bustle of London life. Whitstable is a brilliant example of the English seaside and is a splendid sight when the sun decides to rear its head, which is unfortunately not anywhere near as often as Britons would like!

You can try your hand at the 5km Whitstable Coastal Trail which is a fairly short but highly scenic hike, giving you a clear picture of this amazing town’s unique and incredible heritage. Or why not try some of the day’s freshest catch from local seafood markets—the fish and chips are some of the best around. Whitstable has a real bohemian vibe and should be towards the top of your list if you are planning a trip to England.

Rewards Spotlight: Flights from the U.S. to London can be found on Virgin Atlantic using Virgin points (transferable from most major rewards currencies). Flights go as low as 10,000 points each way plus taxes in economy.

By Manny Dhillon, Forbes Advisor Staff and Dia Adams, Forbes Advisor Staff

How We Picked the Best Places to Visit in 2022

Our list shines a spotlight on destinations that our writers have visited in the past year, though since travel has still been difficult in 2021, we have considered some destinations that were visited in 2020. We gave preference to places currently open to Americans that aren’t as well-known and offered some kind of rewards-redemption option for each location. Notably, not many Asian destinations have been included on the list this year as many countries still aren’t open and haven’t announced opening intentions.

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Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, nor do we recommend or advise individuals or to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Forbes Advisor adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

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