People today are realizing that travel is more important than ever. Travel breaks down cultural barriers, and it’s been shown to make people more tolerant and understanding of each other.
It also helps to expand your view of the world, and spurs you to get more involved and passionate about what we can do to save the planet.
However, when you’re struggling to make ends meet–or to make your dreams happen–those glossy resort posters and tropical cruise ads seem a little out of reach.
Tourism is not the same as travel–and maybe paying loads for a curated, sanitized experience of another country isn’t really what you had in mind, anyway.
Here’s a list of some fantastic places to travel on the cheap, and how to enjoy them to the fullest:
Mexico. Cheap produce and a long growing season means you’ll eat healthy for less here, and at an exchange rate of 19.58 Mexican pesos to one USD, your purchasing power goes up as soon as you enter the country. Hotels are quite affordable, and they’re a lot more personal and authentic than a generic Marriott or Holiday Inn. There’s gorgeous beaches, beautiful warm weather, and great food as well. Another bonus? You may be able to roadtrip here, if you’re from the US. You can even take the bus.
Canada. You can also drive north from the US, and experience a slice of Europe without the jet lag. Canada’s got some of the best French food outside of France–oysters and pastries–at a bargain price. There’s sights to see (I hear the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is prettier!), and if you don’t know much French, that’s okay too. You can stay in their national forests for an affordable and scenic place to rest.
Costa Rica is one of the most fertile and biodiverse places on the planet, and you can observe permaculture in action while eating and living like royalty! There’s national parks to explore, with self-guided walks where you’ll likely meet tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws in their natural habitat. Public transport is very cheap in Costa Rica, which means you can see a lot in a short amount of time, without renting a car. You can even rent beachfront accommodations on some of the best beaches in the world, for less than $6 a night. Check out these great eco lodges!
Puerto Rico. The currency in Puerto Rico is the US dollar, so no worries about exchange rates here–and there’s no passport to apply for, either. San Juan is an easy and affordable getaway, especially if you’re coming from America’s East Coast. Depending on where you stay, you may not even need to rent a car to access great food, fun, and beautiful sights. Puerto Rico is known for having cheap airfare to and from.
South Africa. It may not sound like a tourist’s paradise, but South Africa is actually a developed tourist destination. Since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are opposite from those in the US. Our peak season (Summer) is their off-season, so rates for everything there are cheaper. If a hotel isn’t your thing, you can also stay in an AirBnb or even a safari lodge. Also, their wine is as cheap as a can of soda here in the US. Check out this article on how to travel on a budget in South Africa.
Barcelona is one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. They offer endless free attractions, cheap food, and affordable things to do. Enjoy their fabulous beaches and the open markets. You can also take the tram up to Tibidabo for incredible panoramic views of the city. Barcelona is full of rich history and architecture as well. Check out this list of Barcelona’s best affordable places to eat.
Vietnam. Visiting the Orient doesn’t have to mean China or Japan. Vietnam boasts affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and healthy food, and gorgeous scenery. There are clean and safe accommodations to fit any budget here. Vietnam is exceptional for their street food, especially in Hanoi. You can eat like the locals and even have a beer for less than the price of a Starbucks coffee back home. There’s also kayaking and beaches, historical sites, and rich culture to enjoy.
Crete. With economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, the time is ripe to visit the island paradise of Crete. Farm-to-table eating is a way of life here, and traditional food has never tasted so good. Crete has a curious number of people who live to be over 100 years old, so there’s something to be said for their breezy island lifestyle! With stunning natural beaches and scenery, and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, Crete is a traveler’s dream.
Haiti is one of the best-kept secrets in travel destinations! The island nation boasts all the incredible Caribbean traits without the high price tag. Hotels and accomodations are very affordable here, often better rates than a typical rural town in the US! You can spy epic mountain and ocean views from many locations in Haiti. They offer small-boat tours around the area for just a few dollars per person, and seafood delicacies such as lobster and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you, if you wish! Students can even take a gap year in Haiti!
Indonesia. A nation comprised of 17,000 islands, including gems like Bali, Borneo, and Sumatra, you are bound to find a personal paradise here. Pristine, untouched beaches offer world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also explore incredible Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century. In Indonesia, they have bed-and-breakfast style beachfront retreats that include all meals for under $30 USD per person per night. Here is a financial travel guide to Indonesia.
If you have a fair sense of adventure and aren’t afraid to immerse yourself in the local culture a little, you can get a LOT more bang for your buck when you travel.
Does this list whet your appetite for travel on the cheap? Tell us where you’d most like to go in the comments!