It’s that time of the year again! Autumn is here, but it may not be too late to enjoy summer warmth on a carefree beach vacation. Where would you like to go? For this year’s great fall getaway, consider avoiding the popular areas of Mexico and the Caribbean that have been hit by natural disasters recently and maybe visit one of the lesser-known but just as enticing warmer-weather destinations, such as Panama, Honduras’ Roatán Island or Nicaragua’s uncrowded beaches.

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Travel Safety Challenges

Hurricanes and earthquakes are not the only reasons that might affect your decision. In August 2018, the U.S. State Department issued a warning about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to increased risk of crime. Unfortunately, many tourist areas, including Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel are mentioned in the advisory with varying levels of risk.

However, if you believe in using proverbial lemons to make lemonade, perhaps this is the time to try something new and discover places that you may have overlooked otherwise.

1. Panama

Panama may be a small country, but it has an abundance of oceanfront locations along its two coastlines, making it an attractive option for a warm destination.

If you’d like to combine a beach vacation with the excitement of a big city for your trip, pick a location close to Panama City, with its skyscrapers, casinos, exciting restaurant scene and legendary night life. While Panama City itself is a bit more urban, you can enjoy the beach too by staying at a nearby resort. You can get to the resort by crossing the Bridge of the Americas, and your journey may take about 15 minutes from Panama City without traffic.

A little farther down the coast you will find the beaches of Coronado and Playa Blanca that offer plenty of condos available for inexpensive vacation rentals, and the latter features resorts with luxurious amenities, even a golf course designed by a well-known former professional golfer. Getting there may take almost two hours, but it will allow you to see some of the country’s beautiful coastline.

Or you could just take a short boat ride from the capital to Las Perlas islands. You won’t usually find huge crowds there, despite great snorkeling and white sand beaches says Frommers.

2. Roatán Island, Honduras

Roatán is a picturesque, laid-back Caribbean island (the biggest of Honduras’ three Bay Islands about 35 miles off the coast) whose coral reefs attract an abundance of marine life, which makes it attractive to diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Much of the island is part of the Roatán Marine Park, which protects a significant amount of the island’s coral reef ecosystem. Roatán may be more budget-friendly compared to other Caribbean destinations, but it’s getting more and more popular with every year.

3. Nicaragua

Boasting two coastlines, like Panama, Nicaragua has a number of attractive, unsung beaches. Consider heading to the beaches on the Pacific Ocean side for great surfing, or the Caribbean side for diving and snorkeling.

San Juan del Sur and the surrounding beaches (Playa Maderas to the north and Playa El Coco to the south) may be the most beautiful beaches in the country. And, if it’s the Caribbean coast you’re craving, the Corn Islands might be right for you. There are two of them — Big Corn Island and Small Corn Island — consider staying on Big Corn Island for livelier atmosphere and better tourism infrastructure.

While Nicaragua is getting more and more popular with each passing year, it’s still a great bet for discerning travelers who want the best bang for their buck.

Using Credit Card Rewards

Most credit card holders have at least one rewards credit card. Using your credit card rewards for travel is one of the best ways to reduce your actual travel expenses. You might consider using your Discover it Miles card for purchasing your travel tickets and accommodations, as well as for daily use during your trip.

The Discover it® Miles card lets you redeem your Miles either as a travel credit, get cash as a direct deposit to your bank account or at checkout at Amazon.com. Regardless how you choose to redeem, the ratio is $1 per 100 Miles. 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. You can redeem your Miles on anything and, unlike some other cards, there is no minimum. If you want, you can redeem as little as one Mile.

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