Last Updated: 3/10/23 | March 10th, 2023
The world is full of cheap vacation spots. And, these days, it doesn’t require much effort to find them. No matter what continent — and no matter what interests you have — there are countless places you can visit on a budget.
No destination is really ever “too expensive” as long as you do some research, get creative, and have some flexibility — you just might not be living large when you visit them.
Fortunately, there are a handful of destinations out there that make budget travel easy, fun, and safe.
After over a decade as a frugal nomad, I’ve had the privilege of visiting dozens of budget-friendly countries that make traveling cheap as easy as it can be.
These destinations offer affordable accommodation, cheap food, and plenty of activities and excursions that can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, beach bum, or party animal, this list has something for you.
Here’s my list of the best cheap travel destinations so you can get inspired and plan your next affordable adventure:
It’s also super affordable.
With a tourist trail going back decades, Thailand is the heart of backpacking in Southeast Asia, and you can get by on between $25-35 USD per day thanks to cheap guesthouses, budget street food (which can be found for as little as $1 USD!), local buses, and the many cheap and free attractions. If you spend all your time on the islands and in expensive accommodation, expect to pay closer to $60 USD per day. However, even at the price, Thailand is still one of the most bargain-friendly destinations in the world and should not be skipped!
- The Ultimate Thailand Travel Guide
- 9 Incredible Things to Do in Thailand
- How Much Does It Costs to Visit Thailand?
2. Central America
Want to roam ancient ruins, trek through the jungle, surf, and eat delicious food with few tourists around? Visit the smaller countries in Central America — think El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Here you will find most budget hotels for around $15-30 USD per night, meals for under $5 USD, most bus journeys for the same price, and beer for as little as a dollar.
Belize, Panama, Costa Rica — these are expensive destinations by regional standards (yet they are still quite affordable). If you visit these central Central American countries, you can get by on $40-50 USD per day as a backpacker or splash out $100 a day and live large. Your money goes really far in this part of the world. And with so many countries to choose from, it’s easy to bounce around and see a lot without going broke.
READ MY TRAVEL GUIDES TO THE REGION:
While you could put all of Southeast Asia on this list, Cambodia is one of my favorite countries in the region — it’s affordable, beautiful, and the locals are incredibly hospitable. You can get a private, air-conditioned room for $25 USD, street food for $2-5 USD, and transportation across the entire country for $20-25 USD. If you are spending close to $50 USD per day, you are living large.
Cambodia is cheaper than popular Thailand but just as beautiful and filled with some of the nicest people in the world. Plus, it’s home to the incredible Angkor Wat (which, while expensive to visit, is worth the expense!).
4. The Balkans
Located in southeastern Europe, the Balkans is the cheapest region in Europe. Composed of a handful of countries — most of which see very few tourists — it’s an off-the-radar region that’s super affordable while also offering incredible value. While places like Dubrovnik have seen an influx of tourists (thanks to the cruise ships that dock there), the majority of the region is ripe for adventurous travel. There’s cheap wine, incredible hiking and nature, stunning coasts, hearty food, and a wild nightlife. It’s Europe’s best-kept secret.
You can get by for as little as $30 USD per day — a fraction of what you’d pay in Western Europe. A week’s worth of groceries costs as little as $25 USD while a beer costs around $2 USD.
And while the region was once known for being unsafe, things have greatly improved over the past decade. There’s a growing backpacking trail here and tourism is on the rise. It’s Europe least-explored region — but not for long so visit before you crowds arrive and the price skyrocket.
READ MY TRAVEL GUIDES TO THE REGION:
China has fascinated travelers ever since Marco Polo traversed the Silk Road in 1275. While the days of China being a dirt-cheap destination are gone, the country remains a budget destination — and one of the cheapest in Asia — but with a caveat. You need to get out of the big cities. Sure, the cities are still a bargain. Hostels cost less than $20 USD, food is $2-5 USD per meal, and local transportation in cities runs less than a dollar.
But, the country becomes even cheaper, when you get off the beaten path and the interior. This is where you’ll find the best travel deals and bargains! China still remains one of the best value places in the world and, with it’s massive size (it’s the 3rd largest country by landmass), there is a ton to see and do here!
- 7 Lessons Learned from 3 Months in China
- China Travel Guide: What to See, Do, Costs, & Ways to Save
- What Hitchhiking as a Solo Female in China Taught Me
While always a cheap country, the Indian rupee used to ride high at 39 rupees to the US dollar. Now, you get 82 rupees to the dollar — that’s nearly 50 percent more money to travel with. Unless you book five-star resorts and eat only Western meals, you’ll find it hard to spend $50 USD a day here. You can get by on closer to $30 USD by staying in cheap guesthouses, taking second-class trains, and avoiding Western food. And if you want to splash out, you can live large for as little as $60 USD per day. Even iconic sights like the Taj Mahal — a Wonder of the World — are super affordable (it’s just $13 USD to enter).
India is a cheap backpacking destination with a rich cultural history, mouthwatering food, helpful and curious locals, incredible regional diversity, great tea, and a lot to do. It’s a gigantic place best either explored in either one large trip or a few smaller chunks. Either way, don’t miss India.
Georgia has everything I need in a destination: it’s cheap, has delicious food and wine, offers incredible hikes and mountain scenery, and is devoid of huge numbers of tourists. I loved it immediately and wish I had visited sooner (I actually extended my stay when I visited because I loved it so much!).
Tucked away in the Caucasus, Georgia has been at a cultural crossroads for centuries yet it’s not nearly as popular as it should be. Tbilisi is a city bursting with activity, while the rest of the country offers intrepid adventures a rugged, off-the-beaten-path feel.
You can get by on next to nothing here too, with budget travelers spending as little as $25-30 USD per day. Beer is around $2 USD, a week’s worth of groceries costs around $25-30 USD, and most museums and historic sites cost just $2-3 USD.
While it might feel out of the way, Georgia is one of the next big backpacking hubs. I’d go back in a heartbeat!
- The 15 Best Things to See and Do in Georgia
- The Ultimate Georgia Travel Guide
- Finding Love and Home in Tbilisi, Georgia
Not all Euro countries are created equal, and Portugal is one of the bargain countries in the region — and one of my favorites. I fell in love with the country the first time I visited. How could I not, with beautiful beaches, a rolling wine country, stunning seaside cliffs, delicious food, jovial locals, and historic cities all at bargain prices.
Portugal has become a lot more popular and crowded in recent years (it has a growing expat and digital nomad scene) and Lisbon has become especially expensive was people move there and drive up prices. It’s a great place after all! However, once you get outside of Lisbon, prices are still relatively cheap compared to the rest of Western Europe — and you’ll see far fewer tourists too. Expect to get by on $50-60 USD per day if you’re a budget backpacker.
While is gorgeous in the summer, if you’re looking for a cheap place to spend the winter in Europe, Portugal is one of your best options.
While I’d been to Mexico before, it wasn’t until recently that I really spent a bunch of time there. And I was blown away. Mexico City is a foodie’s paradise, Oaxaca has copius amounts of charm (and a never-ending flow of mezcal to boot!), and the Yucatan is perfect for road trips and cenote exploring. And since it’s so close to the US, it’s not only cheap (beer is just $1-2 USD, groceries are around $25 USD per week, and you can get by on less than $50 USD per day here) but it’s cheap to get to — double win!
While there are some regions that aren’t that safe to explore, the majority of the country is yours to enjoy. No matter your interests — beaches, partying, food, history, nature — there’s a corner of the country that you can enjoy safely without breaking the bank. I also run tours here if you’d prefer to travel with a group.
- Mexico: A Love Story
- The Ultimate Mexico Budget Travel Guide
- How to Stay Safe in Mexico as a Solo Female Traveler
Chaotic and colorful, Morocco is a popular bucket-list destination for travelers of all stripes. Offering rolling dunes of golden sand, winding markets and medinas, and towering mountains, Morocco is a photographer’s dream. While the hectic cities can be a tad overwhelming at times, the stunning silence of the desert and its postcard-perfect views makes the trek worthwhile.
I fell in love with Morocco when I visited — and not just because it’s super affordable (though that did help!). Budegt backpackers can get around on just $30-40 USD per day here, while midrange travelers can have a comfortable trip for less than half that. You get a lot of value here. In fact, I love it so much we even run tours here!
Morocco is a country that mesmerizes. Don’t miss it.
I believe most destinations in the world can be explored on a budget without sacrificing too much comfort (heck, I even traveled Iceland on $50 USD per day).
If you’re a savvy traveler, you know how to maximize your money no matter where you go in the world. But your mission to travel on a budget gets a lot easier when the places you’re going to are already affordable, allowing you make the most of your budget without missing out!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip?
Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.