Travel is fun, but no one likes to pay too much to see the world. That’s why backpacking and train tours are so popular.
But if you want to aim a bit above the whole “hike to the next hostel” phase of traveling, or have a particular continent in mind, you need to know where the cheapest destinations are and what you are getting in return for your hard-won dollars.
Here are the top travel destinations around the world for the lowest costs. If you want to see longed-after sites on a budget, these are the places to start.
Colonized by Rome and used for Star Wars sets, Tunisia is a brilliant African destination.
The country is struggling to build up tourism while faced with problems from more violent neighbors.
However, if you are looking for an inexpensive African destination with plenty of authentic landmarks, food, and historical sites then it’s hard to do better than an inexpensive Tunisia package. Just make sure you know where the embassy is and if there’s any recommendations to avoid certain parts of the country.
This South American destination is filled with steak, beaches, and low prices.
If you have your heart set on South America, you may balk a little at the rising prices in areas like Brazil and Argentina – even Chile is becoming a travel hotspot these days. But Uruguay still has its affordable prices intact and doesn’t attract the same numbers as some of the other countries.
This means more peaceful beach walks, better enjoyment of the famous Montevideo, and more exclusive treatments to some of the best restaurants in the country (Uruguay specializes in home-grown steak and beef dishes).
If you go once, chances are good you’ll plan a return trip, too.
Eastern Europe has never looked so inviting, nor filled with culture, as today’s Latvia.
If you are looking for Latvia on the map, go a bit east and south amidst the Baltic nations, and you’ll find it easily as part of those three small nations in Eastern Europe, snuggled against Russia.
Latvia gets the lion’s share of seaside property and is currently going through a bit of a renaissance. As the country continues to find its feet post-USSR, it has decided to focus on art and culture.
This has turned its capital city Riga – already filled with amazing medieval landmarks – into a popular destination for culture, history, and more. Plus, the prices are still incredibly affordable.
Taiwan is one of the most affordable and diverse Southeast Asian experiences.
Taiwan is known for a lot of things, but it isn’t often considered a brilliant traveling option for those looking to save money. However, stray a bit from the big cities and Taiwan becomes inexpensive, beautiful, and filled with physical challenges.
It’s small enough to bike around the villages, but has enough interesting highland for some incredible hiking opportunities too. Because of Taiwan’s unique location, you can also sample a ton of unique, authentic Asian foods from different cultures without traveling very far.
El Salvador and other Central American countries are a beautiful, inexpensive option for travelers.
El Salvador does have many unique and beautiful places to explore and a wonderful culture of its own, but honestly any Central American country in this region is worth a visit. They are all intensely affordable (think around $20 at the most for a hotel room) and you can take the bus to any destination you prefer.
Planning is key for a Central America visit: You’ll want to see what areas offer the best deals, see what you prefer to do (jungle vs. beach, etc.) and note if there’s any areas you should avoid for reasons of safety.
South Africa remains one of the most affordable tourist countries, especially for nature explorers.
South Africa is a traditionally “safe” option for travelers looking to save money but still have a fun time. South Africa remains one of the top countries when it comes to rewards vs. cost.
Head inland and check out the amazing canyon hikes, authentic wildlife watching opportunities, and other natural opportunities.
Or, hang out in the seaside towns, enjoy some South African wines, and visit the museums for an interesting bouquet of culture. Explore packages and tickets ahead of time to find the best deals.
The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has all the tropical beauty and surf activities you could want at prices far below competitors.
If you really want to hang out in the Caribbean, then you should consider heading to the Dominican Republic. The surrounding vacation spots in other countries may be ultra-expensive and annoyingly crowded, but the Dominican Republic is still up-and-coming, with affordable locations and fewer crowds, but still excellent accommodations, beautiful beaches, and plenty of cities and towns to explore.
Pick between surfing, exploring fishing villages, finding great restaurants in the city, and more. Take a look at local hikes and kayak trips, too, because this country has some great tropical wildlife to explore.
Romania is one of the most accessible and affordable Eastern European countries.
Eastern and middle Europe has long been a haven for low-cost traveling, but many travelers wonder what exactly is worth visiting there. Let us then draw your attention to Romania, one of the most beautiful Eastern European countries, filled with classic architecture, castles, medieval hamlets, and beautiful sections of the Danube.
If you’ve been longing to explore Europe and find that traditional magic that drew so many tourists in years past, this is the place to go – and everything from airlines to rooms should be extra cheap, so that’s a win, too.
From wine and beaches to villas and historic cities, Portugal has everything at a bargain price.
Portugal is one of the Western European countries that rewards your exploration but never breaks your budget. There are amazing beaches, beautiful cliff views, and world-famous wine country.
However, don’t forget about the many cultural opportunities in the cities and villages, where history, food fairs, and landmarks are common.
It’s actually surprising that Portugal doesn’t get more attention, but world-wise travelers like you can benefit from its relative obscurity (a quick hop over to Spain may be worthwhile and won’t be too hard on your budget with a little planning).
While Bali caters to the wealthy, it also offers plenty of opportunities for backpackers.
Bali is something of a dichotomy when it comes to travel. The destination has been so popular for so long that it is often associated with expensive, exotics trip packages these days. But the undercurrent of Bali was and remains cheap, backpacking-oriented beach living, and tropical travel.
You may also want to check out some of the upscale Bali restaurants, spas, and hiking packages – their prices may still be out many other alternatives.
Winter tends to be an especially busy time, so be warned if you want to avoid the crowds.
Atlantic Canada is a thrifty, massively fun tourist destination with amazing food, history, and active exploration.
Canada seems like a pretty strange option for cheap travel, eh? But it really isn’t, especially for other North American travelers looking to save money on travel and on the weaker Canadian dollar (results may vary on the last point).
Here’s a big tip: Avoid the tourist traps in the middle and western provinces, and instead hit up the eastern provinces for true exploration, delicious food, and quaint Canadian hamlets.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland would all love to have you – and the prices are excellent, so don’t be afraid to pamper yourself.
Australia has some remarkable deals if you are willing to buy your own food and set off exploring.
Much like Canada, you don’t expect to see the land down under to pop up on an affordable travel list. And while Australia is recovering from its economic slump (and prices are correspondingly on the rise), the Australian dollar is still weak enough to allow you to find some great deals.
To really save on money, look for backpacking trails and explorations that take you out of city centers – and use services like AirBnB to find some cheap housing. The more you explore, the more your efforts will be rewarded.
This Indian Ocean island is about to hit it big, so get there before prices shoot up.
Honestly this last destination was almost a tie between India and Indonesia, but then we realized that we could choose the best of both worlds and go with Sri Lanka.
The little island country is still recovering from wartime conditions and prices remain very affordable, but now the incredible beautiful beaches are safe and free to roam for travelers around the world.
The capital city, Colombo, is also ripe for exploration and food. This island is about to get mainstream in a hurry, so get there before the dollar signs start stacking up!