Updated: 8/8/22 | August 8th, 2022
We all want to travel more. A vacation, career break, gap year trip — while our travel desires and destinations might be different, everybody wants to travel more.
But no matter what kind of trip you want to take, chances are you are going to encounter one of the inevitable obstacles when it comes to travel: money.
Saving money to travel can be an uphill battle, and with so many expensive destinations out there — not to mention the added cost of things like travel insurance, buying the right gear, finding a flight, etc. — it can sometimes feel impossible.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to find a cheap flight, the daily cost of exploring a new country can often be prohibitive.
Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing places to visit that are still quite affordable. In fact, many of them are actually cheaper than day-to-day life back home!
And, while there are dozens upon dozens of inexpensive countries to choose from, in this post, I am going to share my favorite inexpensive countries and regions in the world that I think are the best!
Despite being a hugely popular tourist destination, Thailand as a whole has remained relatively cheap.
Outside of a few of the popular tourist islands, it’s easy to live on less than $35 USD per day. Budget dorms cost $10 USD per night or less, you can eat on less than $10 USD per day if you stick to street food, drinks are just a couple bucks, and tours and activities don’t cost much more than $10 USD.
And, while the islands are more expensive than the mainland, it’s definitely still possible to visit them for under $50 USD per day as long as you travel slow (ferry costs add up) and avoid visiting during the busy Full Moon Party.
Most people go overboard on partying and alcohol here, however, if you stick to happy hours and buy your beer at convenience stores like 7-Eleven you’ll be able to have fun for a fraction of the cost.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Thailand!
I’ll be honest: I was late to the game on Mexico. While I had briefly visited in the past, it was until recently that I finally took the time to explore the country.
And I was blown away.
Mayan ruins, stunning beaches, lush jungles, world-class food, picturesque cenotes — Mexico has it all. Binge on delicious tacos, tostadas, tamales, sopas, seafood, and mole (not to mention to ever-popular mezcal).
Hostels cost as little as $10 USD per night, street tacos are $1 USD or less, beer is around $1-2 USD, and even big-ticket activities like the Tulum ruins or Chichen Itza are just $5-15 USD.
Whether you’re exploring the Yucatan or relaxing in my favorite city, Oaxaca, Mexico has a ton to offer on a budget.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Mexico!
Portugal is not only one of my favorite countries in Europe but it’s one of the cheapest countries as well. Offering charming cities, stunning coastlines, and beautiful weather, this country has become much more popular in recent years. There’s a growing expat scene as well as a lively digital nomad community.
Yet the country is still super affordable. You can get by here for around $50 USD per day without missing out on the amazing food, fun activities, and delicious wine that call Portugal home.
Hostels cost as little as $15 USD while snacks and fresh baked goods are just $2-5 USD. Beer is only 3 EUR, making it a fun place to relax and enjoy the nightlife.
While prices are a bit higher in popular Lisbon, you can easily offset that by visiting in the shoulder season. And if you’re in Europe in the winter, prices are even lower here during that time. While it won’t be super hot and sunny, Portugal is one of the warmest places on the continent from December-March, making it a fun and affordable place to visit in the winter.
4. Central America
Central America is one of the cheapest regions of the world when it comes to backpacking. While there are some safety concerns and regions you might want to avoid, most of Central America is pretty cheap, allowing you to travel on $30-50 USD per day or less.
In countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala you’ll find the best deals, with budget hotels costing around $15 USD, meals for $3-4 USD, bus journeys for the same price, and beer for less than a dollar.
In the “expensive” countries in the region (Belize, Panama, Costa Rica), you’ll be spending closer to $50 USD per day, though you won’t be wanting for anything as street food costs under $5 USD and hostel dorms are $8-12 USD.
So, while “expensive” for the region, it’s still super easy to get by here on a budget without missing out on the amazing food and fun activities.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Central America!
I love Budapest. It’s a beautiful, historic city. And it’s cheap.
Hostels in Budapest start at $10 USD per night. Meals at the markets or at the plethora of kebab and sandwich shops are around $5-10 USD. Trains and buses were just a few dollars while a beer is less than $2 USD.
Unless you are going out for a big night of drinking or paying for lots of attractions and activities, $30-40 USD will give you plenty of room to enjoy the sites and sounds of Budapest. Budapest is a great alternative to more popular destinations like Prague or Vienna, offering just as much fun for a fraction of the cost.
Just don’t miss the ruin bars while you’re here!
For more information, check out our guide to visiting Budapest!
Home to the epic Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu, Peru is one of the most popular countries in South America.
While hiking the Inca Trail will definitely burst your budget, everyday life in Peru is quite affordable. Hostels can be found for $8-12 USD while street found is available for $1-2 USD.
Unless you’re going to do tons of activities (there are all kinds of epic hikes and tours here, including Colca Canyon and the Choquequirao trek), it will be easy here to enjoy Peru for under $50 USD.
And if you do want to do some guided hikes but don’t have the money, try to book last minute. You can usually find amazing deals — including deals for hikes like the Inca Trail. While you might end up spending more than $50 USD per day, those once-in-a-lifetime experiences are worth it.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Peru!
Because the country is under the radar, you’ll find no crowds and affordable prices. Hostels are only $10 USD per night, street food (like kebabs) are just $4-5 USD), and there are plenty of ruins, beaches, and a great mix of Turkish and European culture. Most museums are only $5 USD and even big-ticket activities like bungee jumping are only $30 USD.
If you’re traveling Europe and need to leave the Schengen, Bulgaria is a great place to spend some time! You can easily get by here for as little as $30-35 USD per day.
For more information, check out our guide to visiting Bulgaria!
If you’re on a backpacker budget you can enjoy a day in Vietnam for as little as $15 USD (though that will really mean really cutting costs down). For a more comfortable backpacker trip, $25-30 USD is a good benchmark.
Hostels can be found for as little as $4-5 USD, with many including free breakfast and free beer (during limited hours). Street food can be found for under $1-2 USD, and buses around the country are incredibly cheap.
Even activities here are cheap. The Cu Chi Tunnels (tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war) are just $5 USD to visit while a full day of canyoning is just $20 USD.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Vietnam!
No budget travel list would be complete without India. While I’ve never been (yet!), I know plenty of travelers who have and they rave about the budget-friendly foods and accommoation.
Hostels and guesthouses here are as little as $5 USD, while delicious food can be had for $2 USD or less! If you’re a foodie on a budget, India should definitely rank high on your list.
If you’re looking to get some value for your dollar, this is a great destination to splurge in. You can get by for $25-30 USD a day here quite easily, which means if you splash out and spend $50 USD a day you’ll ve living large.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting India!
Taiwan is one of the most underrated countries in Asia. It’s super affordable, safe, clean, and has plenty of things to see and do.
While mainland China gets a lot of attention, Taiwan is mostly overlooked by budget travelers. You can easily visit Taiwan for $40-50 USD per day as food and accommodation are both super affordable. Hostels start around $10 USD while street food costs just a couple dollars (and is super tasty). There are plenty of markets, lots of hiking, convenient public transportation, and a fun nightlife. No matter what you are interested in, you can find it in Taiwan. You’ll get a lot of value here.
For more information, check out my guide to visiting Taiwan!
There are many great destinations in the world that don’t have to cost a fortune. While some of these destinations might be expensive to fly to, once you get there, they are incredibly affordable.
You may not be able to embrace the luxurious lifestyle you’ll see on social media, but any trip is better than no trip!
By visiting some of these more affordable budget destinations you’ll be able to stretch your budget and make your trip financially attainable, allowing you to travel longer and more often.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
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 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 they consistently return 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 over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
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.