Things are arguably more expensive now than they've ever been. There is certainly no doubt about the fact that inflation is higher now than it has been in the last 40 years. There was a time when someone used to be able to get a decent job and afford a home, a car and even have a chance to go on vacation once or twice a year. Now, most people are working with two incomes in a single household and many are working multiple jobs without there being enough money to cover basic expenses. This has people cutting back in almost all areas of life, including vacations. The good news is that you don't have to scrap vacations all together. It might come down to finding something that's less expensive but if you know where to look, you can still find something that's great without spending a fortune in the process.
The High Cost of Travel
The cost of a typical vacation is currently estimated to be anywhere between $1,800 and $2,500 for each person to go on vacation for just seven days. That averages out to between $257 and $357 per person, per day. Clearly, that's a great deal of money. Keep in mind, this isn't the cost for some extravagant destination where you can have everything you've ever wanted at your fingertips. Instead, it's the average cost for doing something as basic as staying in a mediocre hotel and eating cheap food the whole time. Even day trips aren't always terribly affordable. In fact, it is estimated that even going somewhere for a single day will cost you at least $52 per person. The real kicker here is that it doesn't even include the cost of gas to get wherever you're going. Fortunately, there are some places that you can go on a budget without feeling like you're missing out on something.
20. Laos ($30/day)
There are so many things to love about this place. For starters, it has some of the most beautiful natural scenery you'll ever likely find in the whole world. If you're interested in seeing some of that scenery, you can pay a whopping $2 and get unfettered access to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in existence. You also have the chance to go tubing down a different section of that same river for just $7 for the day. Finding a room in the area costs next to nothing, anywhere from 5 to $10. Furthermore, you have access to transportation for less than $10 a day and meals will usually run you about $3 to $6. All in all, you can spend about $30 a day here and have everything you want.
19. Vietnam ($30/day)
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to have an unfairly biased reputation of Vietnam. The truth is, it's a magnificent city that has a lot to offer on the cheap. If you've grown accustomed to paying $8 for your Starbucks coffee every morning, you'll be happy to know that you can get something that actually tastes better in Vietnam for a whole dollar. You also have access to street food that's truly delicious for less than $2 a piece.
We're not talking about a single street taco or anything of the like. Instead, think about a full bowl of soup that is both delicious and good for you, enough to keep you full for the majority of the day. They have plenty of sites to see in the city and there is affordable transportation and accommodation all over the place. Just like Laos, $30 a day will be more than enough to pay for your accommodations, food and transportation as well as communication costs.
18. Cambodia ($25/day)
Cambodia has some truly magnificent ruins that are definitely worth seeing. Some of them are more out-of-the-way than others, but it's worth noting the transportation in Cambodia is excessively cheap. If you prefer, you can take public transportation but you can also get to more remote destinations on your own with a motorcycle.
All in all, you can spend about $25 a day and pay for your accommodations, meals and getting from point A to point B. If you decide to stay in a hostel, you can have a roof over your head for anywhere from $3 to $5 per night. If you choose carefully, you can even find one that provides breakfast. Either way, you'll easily spend less than $10 a day on meals.
17. Northern Thailand ($35/day)
There are so many amazing places to visit in Northern Thailand. Cities like Chiang Mai and Pai come to mind almost immediately, as does visiting the White Temple. Fortunately, you can enjoy all of these for next to nothing. Eating authentic Thai food is also something you can do on the cheap and the food itself is absolutely delicious. On the low end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay about $15 for food, transportation and accommodations per day. If you want something that's a little more extravagant, then you might want to double up on that but it's still not likely to cost you more than $35 a day for everything.
16. Indonesia ($30/day)
The Gili Islands in Indonesia offer some of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever see. People who complain about expensive travel to Indonesia are likely those who get caught up in renting an expensive boat to go from one island to the next or something similar. If you pick a place such as the Gili Islands and you stay local, you can enjoy a rather lengthy vacation stay for very little money. Exactly how much is it likely to cost you? Depending on your spending habits, you can enjoy this location for anywhere from $20 to $40 a day.
15. Philippines ($20-$35/day)
One of the many things people love about the Philippines is the way you can hike on the islands and then on the same day, enjoy some of the most spectacular dives that you could ever imagine. There are plenty of sights to be seen. If you do it correctly, you can spend anywhere from $20 to $35 a day. If you're interested in taking a boat ride from one island to another, plan on kicking in another $20 for each ride you take.
14. Malaysia ($35/day)
Have you ever had a desire to visit Borneo or the Cameron Highlands? If you have, you're in luck. You can enjoy all those places and more (and do it on a budget) by staying in a hostel and being conscientious about the type of transportation you choose. It's best to travel by bus on an overnight route because you can do so for less than $10. They also have some of the cheapest food in the entire world and plenty of it. Depending on your spending habits, you can enjoy this country for as little as $13 a day. Even if you like spending a little bit more money on things, it's still easy to spend as little as $35 a day without feeling like you're missing out on anything.
13. Sri Lanka ($35-$40/day)
If you want to travel through Sri Lanka, you can do it for as little as $35 to $40 per day, provided you plan on exploring all that nature has to offer on your own by hiking or riding the train. If you decide to do some of the more coordinated outdoor activities, it will cost you a lot more but you don't necessarily have to participate in those activities in order to have a good time. Overall, you can find a place to stay, plenty of food to eat and even your transportation for the day for the aforementioned price.
12. Nepal ($30/day)
Have you ever had a desire to travel the Annapurna Circuit? Perhaps you've always wanted to see Mount Everest, albeit from a distance. If these are on your bucket list, you're in luck because you can enjoy traveling in Nepal for about $30 a day, including your accommodation, food and transportation. If you want to take that down a couple of notches, consider losing the transportation costs by footing it. The locals are friendly and there are plenty of local guest houses to stay in that don't cost very much money.
11. Taiwan ($29/day)
There is so much that Taiwan has to offer, not the least of which includes astonishingly delicious street food and culture that will probably make you want to stay forever. How much will it cost you to immerse yourself in all of this? Surprisingly, most of it is very affordable. In fact, you can spend less than $12 on renting a bicycle for the entire day and that will get you all over the city. If you're looking for budget accommodations, there are some excellent hostels there that you can stay in for anywhere from $10 to $20 a night. They don't charge hardly anything for all that delicious food, either. In fact, you can fill up for less than $2 a day.
10. India ($18-$45/day)
If you've ever wanted to visit the beautiful Taj Mahal or experience other areas of India, such as their southern beaches, you're in luck. While travel is more expensive in the northern part of the country than in the southern half, you can get some surprisingly affordable deals. As a matter of fact, the most basic accommodations will let you stay overnight for as little as $3. Keep in mind that these places offer absolutely no luxuries or creature comforts at all. It's literally a cot to sleep on and a roof over your head. That being said, there are nicer places that you can stay for about $30 a night. Food should cost you less than $10 a day and transportation is roughly half that unless you decide to take a train ride from one end of the country to the other.
9. China ($30/day)
You’ve probably heard all your life that China is an expensive place to visit. That isn't necessarily true. Consider going to a place like Dali as opposed to Beijing. You can meet the locals, enjoy the culture and ride around on a bicycle all day long for practically nothing. As far as food and accommodations are concerned, they can be enjoyed for less than $30 combined. Find a local hostel or guest house and enjoy everything that the local culture has to offer.
8. Kyrgyzstan ($20/day)
Visit the incredible Tian Shan Mountains for next to nothing. If you're traveling the area on your own without any organized travel such as the mountain expedition, you can get by on as little as about $6 a day for food and $10 a day for accommodation at a local guest house. Transportation couldn't be cheaper. Within the city, each bus ride costs you $0.20. Longer rides from one city to another will cost as much as $8. What about that mountain expedition? If you're going on such an adventure, your food, travel and accommodations are typically included and it doesn't drive the price up like it does in most other parts of the world.
7. Romania ($40/day)
Who wouldn't want to visit the place where Dracula is rumored to have been born? Truth be told, this is a beautiful country with so many gorgeous trails to hike and things to see that you would be remiss not to take the opportunity to enjoy it. Fortunately, it won't cost you a lot to do so. You can eat for about $15 a day, less if you stay at a hostel that serves breakfast and cook your own meal at night. Accommodations will run you about the same, $15 a night. You can either ride the bus or the train for roughly $10 a day and get virtually anywhere you want to go.
6. Georgia ($20-$25/day)
This is an absolutely beautiful country that has loads of places to hike. There are also museums, monasteries and other cultural exhibits that can be enjoyed for free or for a very low cost, often with the most expensive ones coming in at less than $3. You'd be hard-pressed to spend more than $5 a day on travel and that's if you're taking public transportation instead of walking. How much for food and accommodations? $15 should cover both of them easily.
5. Greece ($30-$50/day)
Who wouldn't want to visit a place like Greece? The locals are warm and welcoming, the food is delicious and you have the opportunity to explore ancient architecture and enjoy a walk along the shore. If you do it properly, you can do it on a serious budget. Instead of fighting the massive crowds and the heat during the summer months, visit during other times of the year. Everything is cheaper, you have most of the island to yourself and you get a chance to really visit with the locals. You can handle food and accommodations for roughly $30 a day. Transportation can be free of charge or if you prefer to jump on the ferry and travel from one island to the next, plan to spend about $20 for each ferry ride.
4. Czech Republic ($40/day)
Many people have had a desire to visit Prague for some time and if you are one of them, you can do exactly that for roughly $40 a day. That includes your accommodations, food and even travel. Of course, you can spend as much as you want in the city but if you're on a budget, you can easily stay in a local guest house that serves breakfast and cook your own meals so you can stay on budget. What if you want to visit one of the more well-known public locations such as Prague Castle? It will cost you another $18 to get in, but if it's been a lifelong dream of yours, then it's worth it.
3. Poland ($30/day)
Poland definitely has a lot going for it. Visit a major city like Warsaw or stick to the smaller villages and enjoy eating at a Milk Bar with locals. If you decide to enjoy museums or other attractions, you can usually gain entry for anywhere from $3 to $5 a piece. How much will it cost you on a shoestring budget for accommodation, food and travel? If you have $30 a day, you can comfortably get around and get more than enough to eat without feeling like you’re missing out on anything at all.
2. Ukraine ($25/day)
Before Ukraine became a war-torn country, it was one of the most beautiful, culturally rich places in all of Europe. You could also travel there for next to nothing, as even accommodations that would cost $150 in Ukrainian funds cost about $6 in US money. As a matter of fact, you could have accommodations, good food and all the travel you wanted for about $25 a day, provided you were careful about the way you spent money. Hopefully, this will be a place that people can safely visit again in the near future.
1. Croatia ($40/day)
Croatia has some of the most pristine waters and beautiful beaches that you'll ever see. It's a country that definitely surprises a lot of people, thanks to its ancient architecture, stone-cobbled streets and warm local hospitality. If you travel there during the summer months, you're going to end up spending more than you probably want to spend. Instead, go during the off season, enjoy seeing the country for what it really is, and spend about $40 a day for accommodation at a local guest house, as well as food and travel. That includes places like Dubrovnik where you can also enjoy some of the most magnificent architecture in existence.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn