10 Amazing Destinations For Budget Travel, According To Someone Who Has Traveled All Over The World

·6 min read

Travel might sound expensive, but the truth is by visiting destinations where the cost of living is low, you can actually do more and spend less than you would just sitting at home.

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Once you buy your plane ticket, everything from lodging to food and entertainment can be significantly cheaper than what you'd pay in the US.

The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the US in 2021 was $1,098 a month or around $37 a night — a rate that is significantly more expensive than a night in all of the countries below. And then there's the low cost of food and transportation in each of these countries, which makes it easy to splurge on nice meals or a VIP tour.

I've traveled to well over 50 countries all over the world, and these are the destinations that stood out to me as the most affordable.

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Delicious street food

Cambodia was so lovely and so inexpensive that I decided to stay for a full month. The monthly rent at my Airbnb was $477 (around $15 a night), and that was in the relatively touristy city of Siem Reap. In fact, probably the most expensive thing I did during my time there was buy a three-day pass to Angkor Wat for $62.

I ate mostly noodle dishes and veggie stir-fry served fresh from street carts, and I picked up loads of fruit (I was lucky to visit during mango season 🥭), but the cost of delicious food in general was wildly affordable.

Evie Carrick


Red castle with people standing out front

One US penny holds the same value as a full Indian rupee, which should give you an idea of how affordable the country is. My favorite hotel in Delhi, Hotel Hari Piorko, currently has beds for $3.77 a night. Yes, you read that correctly.

Pair that extremely affordable lodging with super-cheap, amazing street food, and you've got a vacation that will cost you next to nothing after you shell out on your plane ticket — especially if you're willing to rough it a bit.

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Goods in a souk

If you're looking for textiles, pottery, and leather goods that are all made in-country, by hand, for a literal fraction of what you'd pay in the US, there is no better place to be than a Moroccan souk (marketplace).

I spent time in both Marrakesh and Essaouira — both of which had great souks and super-cheap lodging. Six family members and I rented an entire riad (a multi-story building with an interior garden or courtyard) in the center of Essaouira WITH daily breakfast and housekeeping for less than $100 a night (that's around $14 per person). We had similar (but less nice) lodging in Marrakesh for a similar price.

Evie Carrick


Water market in Thailand

Thailand has long been a top destination for budget travelers, and the reputation is well deserved. You can pick up a restaurant meal for $3 or $4 and a scooter rental for around $5 a day. And since Bangkok is a Southeast Asian hub, you can fly all over the continent for very cheap, thanks to low-cost local airlines like Nok Air.

I've visited Thailand a few times, and because it's so affordable, I even ventured south to the islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, which are slightly more expensive but still affordable by US standards. On Koh Phi Phi you can still find a bed for $10–$15 a night.

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Breakfast at a cafe in Bali

Plane tickets to the island of Bali, Indonesia aren't cheap, but once you're there the living is good. Food, in particular, was so fresh and so affordable: a stack of banana and cassava pancakes made from ingredients farmed on the other side of the island cost me about $3 (and that was at a fancy eatery).

I paid less than $20 a night for a villa with a kitchen and private bathroom. That's $600 a month — a rent that's significantly cheaper than the $1,098 US average.

Evie Carrick


Colorful houses with a volcano in the background

Not only is Guatemala affordable once you arrive, but it's also relatively cheap to get there. In fact, you can currently buy a flight from Denver to Guatemala City for less than $200. And once you're there, you can eat and shop like royalty without breaking the bank.

During my time in Guatemala, I stayed at the Yellow House Hostel in Antigua for around $30 a night, a rate that included a huge breakfast of eggs, beans, tortillas, fresh fruit, and fried plantains. A "chicken bus" (retrofitted school bus) from Panajachel (a city on Lake Atitlán) to the Chichicastenango market was less than 50 cents, and at the market, I found colorful textiles and hand-carved wooden figurines for just a few bucks.

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Two people getting ready to go surfing in Sayulita

It's no secret that our neighbor to the south is noticeably more affordable than the US. Every time I've made the trek to the wonderful country of Mexico, it's been for a beach vacation, and I'm always blown away by the affordability. In Sayulita, my favorite spot of all, I rented a surfboard for $7 and ordered a giant plate of tacos for just a few bucks.

One travel blogger I follow who recently lived in Oaxaca budgeted $300 a month for food and just $375 for rent and internet.

Evie Carrick


Falafel sandwich in Beirut

I happened to be in Lebanon during a particularly tumultuous time, just one year after the deadly 2020 explosion when the economy was in serious turmoil (and it remains so today). The value of the Lebanese pound was dropping by the day, making everything from bread to gasoline wildly expensive for locals — and extremely cheap for travelers with US dollars or euros in the bank.

Even before the economic collapse the country was affordable, but while I was there in mid-2021, you could buy a falafel sandwich for 25 cents or grab a cab across town for $4.

Evie Carrick


River with greenery in Laos

Thailand and Cambodia get lots of attention while the palm-tree-shaped country of Laos tends to slip under the radar. It's a shame, and also a great reason to go because you'll be surrounded by fewer tourists.

In addition to housing natural and cultural wonders — Kuang Si Waterfall, Buddhist monasteries, and hill tribe villages — the cost of living is pretty comparable to Thailand. I got the best massage of my life (no joke) at Lemongrass Sauna and Traditional Massage for just over $6. And yes, I went back every day.

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Person standing in entrance to cafe

I have an obsession with Nepali momos (steamed dumplings), so I spent a large part of my time in Nepal literally hunting down the best veggie-filled momo, most of which are filled with buffalo or other types of meat. A plate of 10 to 12 pieces costs around $1 (and sometimes significantly less), so you can see how I ate very well for very little.

Momos aside, you can find a hostel bed in Kathmandu for $5 and take a bus to Pokhara (a seven-hour journey) for less than $10.

Evie Carrick

What countries have you visited that are relatively inexpensive? Share in the comments below.

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