With winter fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the budget minded traveler find it harder to escape for weekend escapades into forgiving sunlit forests, or dry desert landscapes that hold the promise of bass-boosted neon light shows and sweaty nights heavy with the swollen moon and worthy of a howl. With the whispers of winter heard from the wind (and here in Boise, in the snow) travelling south, where summer is in full swing and travelling on a budget can be more economical than domestic travel.
1. Western Australia
Australia offers a wide array of hostels, wilderness, and adventure for any traveler who does not want to sacrifice the availability of first world comforts when travelling abroad. Swimming in the coral reefs, taking the back trails into the great plains, and clubbing it in Perth, it’s a choose your own adventure in an English speaking country, with drinkable water, and a great AUS:US dollar ratio (1.4:1) for the budget minded traveler. It also offers a solid platform for spring-boarding off into Asia, if the wind takes you that way…
The wind definitely should take you that way. South-east Asia is one of the best places for the first time or budget traveler. It offers an expansive view of a world unseen and experiences you simply can’t get elsewhere. Besides for a quarter the cost of a major European vacation, you can explore the stone ruins of Buddhist temples, sit on sandy beaches, and eat every manner of spicy, savory, simply umami food!
Indonesia is one of the most economical countries to visit in the South Pacific. From its bargain basement prices, extremely high rate of biodiversity (2nd highest in the world), to it’s seventeen-plus thousand islands. This means if you visited a new island every day, it would take you almost 48 years to see them all! The wide biodiversity alone should be enough to lure anyone down to Indonesia, home of the Komodo Dragon, Sumatran orangutan, and over 1,500 species of birds. Besides, can anyone say no to Bali? With The Tanah Lot Temple, lush rice terraces rising over the edges of every volcanic cliff, and pearly white beaches, diving into the never ending oceans of Bali are some of the most budget-minded choices you can make.
Cheap, beautiful, full of place to go, and things to do. And although alcohol is more expensive in this part of the world, exploring the diverse cities and expansive countrysides pays off more than double to make up for the loss of it. From the high-rises in Kuala Lumpur to the inland gateway town of Sibu, which acts as an entrance to the inner part of Johor, there are a multitude of different activities and cultures to take in. You can spend your day eating authentic Indian food, visiting Buddhist temples, and end the night on top of a mountain with Kam Pua (a traditional noodle dish). Malaysia offers a smorgasbord of authentic cultural options with its remarkably diverse background, so in this budget traveler’s paradise, picking just one thing, or culture, to explore can be a doozy!
Travelling can be exhausting, and Thailand has the cure for any hungry traveler, and every wanna-be Indiana Jones who needs fantastically, sometimes healthy, food to slash their way into the jungle and explore the ruins of the Khmer Empire, and old Buddhist monoliths stuck halfway out of the ground, rising out of rice patties like half sunk suns. Thailand is renowned as the budget travel location, 1 USD is a little under 35 Baht, and with a competitively priced cost of living, making Thailand a magnificent place to land for anyone looking for an extended, economical, vacation. While in this area, watching for parasites will also pay off in the long run, while parasites are everywhere, being aware of the signs and symptoms might prevent a sudden, unexpected shock hitting you out in the middle of a night market.
If you need to go where no one else has gone, somewhere ‘simply beautiful’, then Laos is for you. The forgotten backwater of the Indochina Peninsula. There are no malls, no skyscrapers, and the biggest city has a population of about 740,000 people. Great stone statues of Hindu saints and demons scatter the lost land of Laos intertwined with colonial French architecture and spectacularly green water falls. Monks still outnumber tourists throughout this country, as Buddhism is still heavily practiced, and in some parts tak bat, the monk’s alms collection, still happens daily. About a third of males in Laos become monks, sometimes only for a few weeks or years.
6. South Africa
You want beaches, safaris, kite-surfing, and a little bit easier communication while travelling. Luckily South Africa can give you all of those things. From kite-surfing in the European-esque city of Cape Town to the desert spring flowers across Namaqualand, South Africa offers a wide selection from Africa, and the ocean, including cage diving with great whites, whale watching, and taking the fabulous luxury railways to explore the plains of Africa. Even though the ticket to fly into South Africa can be expensive (depending on where you travel from) the cost of living in South Africa is almost 50% lower than in the US, and that can give a traveler big-budget benefits for longer vacations.
If you’ve been daydreaming of a European vacation, then travelling to the lesser known sites in Eastern Europe will give you a bigger bang for your buck. Macedonia,the birthplace of Alexander the Great, and ex-member of the USSR; offers monasteries, seas, and medieval fortresses, without crowds of tourists (or a big bill at the end). Macedonia is for the prudent traveler who wants a quiet European vacation visiting old castles, quiet bookstores, and small cobblestone lined alleyways that promise wizards or some titillating tulumbi.
If you want a European vacation full of all the rich history and excitement like you always dreamed of, then Prague might be the one place I’d recommend borrowing for. Determine if it’s worth it, or save up, because while it is economical in terms of European vacation, using your time there wisely. Stare Mesto and the divine cafes will haunt your dreams when you return, luring you back into the never-ending streets of Prague. Besides, travelers who visit off season can avoid the crowds (and excessive airline costs), and if you really want to squeeze the most out of your trip, you can use vacation rentals. Some can start as low as 14$ a night, which will be helpful if you plan a long-term stay (196$ for two weeks rent is cheaper than most apartments!).
Peru is rich in history, culture, and outdoor adventure! There is no way a traveler could traverse across the complex, rich climates that Peru covers, by focusing on Lima, you will get the most out of your short time in Peru. There is a stark contrast from the colonial buildings located in the heart of Lima (like the protruding wooden balconies that are practically signatures from the 1800s) from the mummies and pre-colonial monoliths just a day trip out of town at either Huaca Pucllana or Pachacamac. Travelling in Peru can be very economical and very delicious, especially if you take advantage of the backpacking opportunities just outside of the city.
Nicaragua is an increasingly popular destination for the adventure traveler because of its high biodiversity, active volcanoes, warm climate, and use of American currency. Carry loose change with you when you go out to eat, because eating will literally cost you cents on the dollar, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a street vendor who could make change for a twenty. Forts built to fight pirates, and two thousand-year-old footprints preserved in volcanic mud, you can bet that your only quandary will be what to see first. Especially if you find yourself in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, which is the second largest rain forest in the western hemisphere. The Lake Nicaragua even has a fresh water bull shark!
11. Costa Rica
If you just want to go somewhere beautiful, try Costa Rica. It offers economical flights and is very budget friendly to explore. The dry season goes from December to April. And the luscious rain forests are full of volcanos, monkey, frogs, and sloths to hang out with. If you aren’t interested in the forest perhaps it’s specialty coffee industry will give you something to perk up about, combined with the Native American/Spanish fusion, food and drink are a variety pot of mixed flavours. If you need a guide on budgeting for a trip, most bloggers estimate 20 days, with hotels, might cost around 850$.
12. An Economical Traveler can go Anywhere!
If you are a thrifty traveler then getting the best deal on your vacation then travelling to an economical location will definitely satiate your vacation needs, and get you the most bang for your buck. However, if somewhere is really calling to you, or if you just need to escape for a couple months, there are ways to escape without spending a dime, whether it’s working at resorts or acting as an au pair.