This post is inspired by the fact that I have just begun making all of my travel arrangements for what is bound to be an incredible 7 week adventure in Thailand and Bali … ALONE. That’s right, I am doing some soul searching and it has led me to believe that I will find whatever it is I am looking for in Southeast Asia. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Being The Frugal Model, of course I had to go somewhere that would be budget friendly, so where better than the land of smiles (and $20/night rooms)?
Here is a roundup of the 5 best budget travel destinations that you may not have considered ever traveling to because they seem exotic and scary and far away – but that’s the point, isn’t it?
I’ve been hearing so many amazing things about Peru lately, making it the next spot that I want to check out after my crazy adventure. There are Inca ruins, hiking in the Andes, and trips through the Amazon.
You can currently book an airfare and hotel package in Lima for around $899 for four nights. You can get even more budget friendly if you are willing to stay away from the touristy central in a spot like Miraflores ($29/night for private room, satelite tv, breakfast and wifi), and even better if you are willing to stay in a hostel (HostelBookers.com brings up spots for under $10). The exchange rate is currently 2.75 soles to the dollar, so your money goes alot further here. Taxis are mere dollars and the public transportation is pretty much free if you’re brave enough to trust your sense of direction. You can get a big traditional lunch and a beer for around $7, and attractions like the Inca Museum in Cuzco is only $1.50.
I can’t wait to meet you, Thailand. I chose this amazing country because it seems to be the most travelled by independent backpackers, so there are tons of guides and tips online that make planning really easy. It’s also super easy to get around and see what you want to see, be it historic ruins, Buddhist temples, or tropical beaches. My one-way flight to Bangkok was not cheap at around $1150, and my within the country to the different regions were all about $150 each. The buses and trains are less expensive, but I figured since everything else was so cheap I would spend the money for the safety and convenience.
In the North (I’m spending a week up there), you can find cheap guest houses for as little $7 per night in cities and $4 per night in the countryside. I’m staying in an eco-lodge that aids in the development of the community and helps fight the child sex slave industry, so my bungalow is $40/night. On the islands, for a nicer room with air-conditioning expect to pay $17 and up per night. Hotels start at around $33, and if you’re into big resorts they start at $50 per night for a bungalow on the beach. Food is also super cheap in Thailand, with street food costs as little as .65 per meal (don’t be scared), and if you eat local food you can eat for around $3.50-5.00/day. If you are craving your western dishes, you’ll pay around $5-10.
Many say that Portugal is one of the best budget-friendly options in Western Europe right now, and with mountains in the North, metropolitan Lisbon, and a desert beach in the South – it is definitely a spot worth hitting up. Best of all, you can get a bottle of wine at a restaurant for about $4. Yay. Save money on your flight there by booking a round-trip flight into a European hub city, and then from there doing a round trip to Portugal for usually under $100. The local economy is still hurting from the country’s financial crisis, so hotels often offer big discounts. If you can brave a hostel, rates start at around $13 and a step up for a double room in a 2 star hotel goes for about $35. Food is a little more expensive, with a sit down meal with drinks costing about $20 per a meal.
I would love to try to hit up Cambodia while I’m over in Asia – I mean, if it’s good enough to produce children for Angelina Jolie, it’s good enough for me. This country has great beaches, food, markets, and the best part… it’s all dirt cheap. It’s easy to find comfortable accommodations for under $20/night, and a yummy meal is generally just dollars. Local city transportation is cheap, costing only a few dollars, you can get a bus anywhere in the country for under $10, and renting a driver for the day is only $15-20. Lonely Planet says that budget travelers can live it up on $25 a day, and midrange travellers can stay in great places and dine well on$75/day. Living like a queen for under $100/day is something I could get used to.
If you love scuba diving and the ocean, this caribbean island is next to the second longest coral reef in the world – and the mainlands hosts tropical national parks and colonial towns. The best part is that the white rafting trips go for $35, diving the reef is $40, and weeklong learn-to-dive packages with room, breakfast and transfers can be found for under $600. Last year American began offering direct flights from Miami – and once you get out of the capital and into a spot like Roatan, you’ll pay about half the price for your hotel than other caribbean islands.
These are just a sampling of the many places in the world that you can see even on a tight budget. Travel is one thing that is always worth the money spent – as I will be able to attest to in a few months. Look out for my posts in the new year about my budget travels … until then, why not book your own adventure??