One of the biggest misconceptions about traveling is that it is luxury or bust. Many people feel that travel is unattainable unless you are the heir to some large family fortune. But the truth is that you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for your dream vacation. Many countries are affordable without sacrificing any of the awe and wonder that come with traveling. Here are ten of those incredible destinations for budget travelers.
Don’t let the decades of tension deter you from our mysterious neighbors to the south. Ever since Cuba and the United States have opened their borders to one another again, many Americans have traveled to Cuba and fallen in love with it. From the laid-back vibe of the people to the colorful colonial architecture, Cuba is a great place to vacation.
It can also feel otherworldly at times. Many people compare it to going back in a time machine. For travelers looking to experience that shock, now is the time to go. What the country lacks in modernity, it makes up for in magic. Ideally, one should try to go before the tourism industry starts ruining the authenticity of the experience. Cuba is a great budget travel destination, but it might not be for long if commercialization takes over.
Related: The Backpacker’s Guide to Cuba
9. The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic (or Czechia as it is now known) is a much more affordable destination compared to the rest of Europe. This beautiful country is full of fairy-tale cities that you wouldn’t believe exist until you see them for yourself. From its capital city, Prague, to the smaller towns of Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary, the mix of colorful architecture and historic buildings give a glimpse into Europe’s past before it was devastated by war.
So what makes Czechia a great budget travel destination? Well, the Czech Republic has yet to adopt the Euro. The official currency is the Czech crown, which often means that American travelers will get more for their money. From cheap beer to cheap accommodation, it is much easier to travel on a budget here than the rest of Europe.
Canada might not be your idea of a dream vacation, but it was ranked the best country to travel to in 2017. Why? There are a number of reasons, but our neighbor to the north is celebrating 100 years of national parks by letting visitors into the parks for free. In case you didn’t know, Canada has some of the world’s most beautiful nature and scenery.
Although the Canada is closer in price to the U.S. than other countries on this list, it is also much closer in proximity. That makes it much easier to find affordable flights. If you’re looking for anything from a weekend getaway to a several-month-long voyage throughout the country, look no further than our friendly neighbors to the north.
Roundtrip flights to Peru have been popping up in the $400 range, and if that isn’t reason enough to go, then just Google some of the insane beauty that Peru has to offer. From the world wonder Machu Picchu to the newly-discovered Rainbow Mountain, Peru is a trekker’s paradise. The country is one of the most affordable I’ve ever been to. Although the southern part of the country has gotten more expensive due to massive influxes in international tourism, there are hundreds of hidden gems throughout this country.
From Chachapoyas’ endless jungle adventures to feeling like you were transported back in time in Cajamarca, the adventures never stop in Peru. From sandboarding to surfing to incredible hikes, Peru has something for literally everyone. Oh, and alpacas. Everyone loves alpacas.
Like Peru, Bolivia also has alpacas. And it is actually cheaper than Peru. The flight there might be more expensive than a flight to Peru, but you can also fly to Peru and take a bus down to Bolivia. While Americans have to pay a $160 entrance fee to Bolivia, it is worth it to feel like you’re on an entirely different planet. From the vast expanses of the Salt Flats to the blood-red waters of the Laguna Colorada, Bolivia will make you shake your head in disbelief. With adventures spanning through jungles, mountains, islands, and deserts, Bolivia has a lot to offer in a country relatively unvisited by American tourists.
Thailand is a dream destination for many people, and it isn’t hard to see why. The breathtaking beaches and islands are the main reason people go, but the vibrancy and culture of life in Thailand is why people stay. Oh, and people also stay because they can afford to. With cheap food, housing options, and transportation, Thailand is somewhere that your money can last incredibly long. You can probably get away with spending less than $10 a day if you have to. With many Asian airlines offering cheap flights to the area, it has never been cheaper to go to Asia, making Thailand one of the top destinations for budget travelers.
Like its neighbor, Thailand, Vietnam also offers an insanely affordable vacation. It is actually even cheaper than Thailand, from the food to the transportation and accommodation. As a backpacker, I was finding decent hostels for as low as $5 and could eat for less than $1 a meal. Go for the food, stay for the food. Vietnamese cuisine is some of the best in Asia. You won’t have any trouble finding pho or banhmis for less than a buck in Vietnam. The incredible nature of Vietnam makes it a popular destination for budget travelers. Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, Ninh Binh and Phong Nha are just some of the can’t-miss spots in Vietnam.
3. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the most incredible countries that I have ever visited. For such a small island, it offers some of the most diverse adventures you could imagine. You could go on a safari in the morning then be surfing by the afternoon. There is something for everyone in Sri Lanka.
And best of all, it is super affordable. I thought Asia was cheap. Sri Lanka was significantly cheaper than other Asian destinations I had visited. I could feast on curry every meal for less than $1. Private accommodation can be found for less than $10. Transportation was also the cheapest I had ever encountered in my travels. It could cost as low as $1 for a 2-hour long ride on a local bus. And with how small Sri Lanka is, that means you could access pretty much anywhere in the country for less than $10.
Sri Lanka is extremely underrated and overlooked. Take your chance and go sooner rather than later.
If you only go to Cancun or Cabo, you’re insulting Mexico by ignoring the wonders they have to offer. Mexico is also famous for having one of the world wonders, the Mayan ruins of the Chichen-Itza. However, the ruins of past Mexican civilizations are all over the country, and many are worth seeing. From Teotihuacan to Tulum to Uxmal and others, Mexico is a fantastic destination for anyone remotely interested in history and anthropology.
The bustling urban lifestyles of Mexico’s largest metropolises are also can’t-miss experiences. Mexico City is one of my favorite cities in the world. There is no shortage of reasons to visit Mexico, but the fact that flights to Mexico can be as cheap as in the $100 range should convince you.
1. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world. While becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination, relatively few travelers make their way through Central America as a whole. Copa Airlines, Panama’s major airline, offers insanely cheap flights to Central and South America. You can book a roundtrip to Costa Rica for under $300 and spend the entire time in awe of the finest that Central America has to offer.
The jungles, volcanoes, and beaches are among the best in the world. The biodiversity, from turtles to monkeys to colorful birds, also ranks as the highest outside of the Amazon. Oh yeah, and it is very affordable. Food, transportation, and housing options make Costa Rica a dream destination for budget travelers and families alike.
Related: Costa Rica On A Backpacker’s Budget