Travelling is the ultimate way to level up your personal growth and appreciation of this pale blue dot. The longer your travel, the more rewards you reap.
I’ve been traveling the world broke for over ten years now. I normally travel on a budget of around $10 – $15 a day, no matter what part of the world I find myself in. So yes, budget travel is possible ANYWHERE!
But travelling cheap becomes a lot more fun when you pick a destination that allows you to spread your money further. Instead of slumming it every single night and dumpster diving for breakfast, you can afford the occasional hostel room and beer! Picking the right place to travel helps you in your quest to save money while travelling!
Most people know that India is a cheap place to travel but most of the world’s best cheap places to travel to are well off the beaten path. Seek and ye shall find! I have compiled for you the 10 best cheap places in the world to travel to. Get inspired to get off the beaten path and have a whirlwind of an adventure!
Before You Travel to a Cheap Country
A little forethought goes a long way! No destination is ever impossible to travel to on a budget – but some places are definitely cheaper than others.
If you know why you want to be travelling, it will make it far and away easier to choose a place to go. If you’ve got a pocket full of spare change and a hitchhiking thumb, then you will want to stick to the absolute dirt cheapest places in the world. If you are on a backpacking trip that is more time-sensitive, sticking to a budget might become less important than your schedule.
Do you like trekking in the mountains? Is the beach your thing? Do you want a life-changing cultural experience? Do you just want to find the country with the cheapest beer?
Whatever it is you want to experience, there is a fantastic cheap destination waiting for you to come and explore it! You can stretch your spare change a long way in lots of the world, so let’s get into the best places to do just that.
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The Best Cheap Places to Visit in 2021
For adventurous backpackers who want to explore the world without breaking the bank, this is the ultimate list of cheap countries to travel to in 2021…
One of the most overlooked budget destinations is Iran. Backpacking Iran is a truly incredible experience! Iran is probably the easiest country worldwide to hitch a ride.
Plus, the Couchsurfing scene is alive and well here so you rarely even have to pay for a place to sleep. And you make epic friends along the way!
With gorgeous Islamic architecture, legendary hospitality, beautiful women, and the stunning island of Hormuz, this is a country that will take your breath away at every turn!
Iran is an often misunderstood country and frequently slated in the media, something which continues to anger me. I’ve spent nearly six months in Iran, visiting four times across 2016, 2017 and 2018. My ex-wife – and current dear friend – is Iranian. I speak some Farsi, and I feel strongly connected to this amazing country.
Iran is one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world and is a broke backpacker haven…
I’ve camped out all over Iran, Couchsurfed with dozens of hosts, hitchhiked thousands of kilometres – the legendary Iranian hospitality means it’s totally possible to travel on a tight budget and Iran is actually a very safe country and is a cheap place to travel in as well!
2. Sri Lanka
Somehow, Sri Lanka has slipped off the radar for many budget backpackers. With the ever-increasing popularity of India and Southeast Asia on either side, I expected Sri Lanka to be a little more crowded!
What I found there is a country full of landscapes just begging to be explored by foot or train! There’s also a smaller community of vibing backpackers spending their holiday hiking mountains or chilling on pristine beaches. Sri Lanka makes for a truly great cheap place to travel to in Asia!
Okay, so maybe the backpacking route is fairly well-trodden here, but that makes it easy to get to different sections of the island – from where you can set out on your own to find a lesser-known beach or a wild section of jungle.
Some of the best hostels in Sri Lanka cost around $7, and you can expect even less for the cheaper sort. Also, the government has announced that it will reduce the cost of flights into and out of the country, making it all the more accessible to broke-ass backpackers!
I mentioned those train rides, right? If you can save enough on everything else, splurge on a train ride. They’re insanely beautiful! Greenery seems to engulf you from all sides and you feel like you’re flying for a split second!
Nicaragua is a GREAT cheap place to travel in Central America! It is a wonderland of volcanic peaks, crazy parties, jungle treks, and Mayan sites.
I spent nearly three months exploring Nicaragua and it is HANDS DOWN my favourite place to travel on a budget in Central America. It’s safe, easy to get around, and has something for everyone!
You can score a room for under $10 a night and expect to eat street food for less than a dollar. Alcohol is cheap and the beaches are free! If you’re a first-time budget backpacker, Nicaragua is a solid choice.
Compared with other countries in Central America, Nicaragua is certainly one of the cheapest countries to travel to. A hostel bed in Costa Rica may well cost you double what it does in Nicaragua! But beyond being a cheap place to travel to, Nicaragua is simply an EPIC experience.
I made some dear friends for life here, while going volcano boarding, learning to surf, and eating the best damn tacos!
A popular stop on the backpacker trail, Cambodia is a deservingly popular cheap place to travel to! You can score beers for 25 cents and dorm rooms in hostels for just a couple of dollars.
Many backpackers in South East Asia save Cambodia for the last part of their trip as this is the place you can make your money stretch the furthest!
At a fraction of the price of neighbouring Thailand and with plenty of gorgeous beaches, steamy jungles, and the amazing Angkor Wat, Cambodia is another solid choice for a first-time budget traveller. It is safe, easy, and fun. One minute you find yourself deep within the ruins that inspired tomb raider and the next you are tripping balls on a jungle island!
You can always purify the mind and soul with some yoga here too. And did I mention the street food is delicious? Asia is full of cheap destinations, but Cambodia takes the cake (or noodles)!
What is the first place that comes to mind when you are planning your round the world trip on a budget? Whatever country it was, it probably wasn’t Pakistan! But think again! Backpacking across Pakistan is a simply awesome experience! Not only is it an epic adventure, but it’s cheap.
The mountains in Pakistan are the best in the world and the hospitality you will experience here is truly very special. I couchsurfed my way across Pakistan with no problems! The food, the chaotic traffic, the chai – it all leaves a very special mark on your heart!
I have spent many months on many trips to this incredible country. I can say that Pakistan feels like a second home to me. I believe in its potential as a cheap place to travel to, but I also believe in it as one of the premier destinations period. I believe this so much, I set up a tour to the mountains there!
Whilst transportation costs can add up, it’s possible to hitchhike and you can expect numerous offers of a place to crash. Food will rarely set you back more than a couple of dollars and you can camp for free in the Karakoram mountains.
Pakistan is a wonderland of:
- Stunning treks
- Friendly people
- Underground parties
- Ancient traditions.
6. Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe has become the go-to destination for travellers wanting an adventure! There’s vodka, epic raves, epic architecture, very attractive locals! 😉
And the BEST part? You’ll notice as soon as you leave the Euro currency countries behind, things are suddenly much more affordable. Eastern Europe is an epic and underrated budget place to travel.
Backpacking Eastern Europe is one hell of a good time for any adventurer. Beer is often the same price (or less) as bottled water. You can score a bed and breakfast for $10, and a long-distance bus ride for less than that. It’s also extremely easy to hitchhike.
Most countries of Eastern Europe were part of the former Soviet Union, and the relics of those times are still visible across the region. You can still find statues of Lenin next to a new Starbucks. Ah, the historical irony.
All travellers – first-timers and the feral veterans alike – need to experience the magic of this wilder cousin of boring, overdone Western Europe!
Albania is probably the cheapest cheap place to travel in Europe, followed closely by Bulgaria and Romania. For kick-ass parties and beautiful people, head on up to Ukraine or Russia. Whatever you’re looking for here, you’re sure to have a good time!
An oldie but a goodie, broke backpackers have been travelling to India for decades now! In fact, when I was nineteen, I spent a year backpacking around India and spent under $3000. It’s possible to survive here comfortably on $10 a day!
India is one of the most popular budget travel destinations and sometimes that can burn you out. There is a lot of sensory overload to contend with here, and travelling to this wild place can feel like an uphill battle. BUT! You can use it as your training ground for even more epic adventures in South Asia.
For further offbeat adventure – and to avoid the hippie-wannabe hordes – cross the Wagah border and explore Pakistan!
India is definitely one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia. India is also one of the most budget-friendly places to visit in the world.
The trick to super cheap backpacking in India is to travel slow. The faster you travel, the more it will cost.
- The average room costs $2 – $5.
- Average meal costs $1 – $3 (less if you eat street food).
- A twelve-hour train journey in 3AC sleeper class: $16.50 (the lower classes are cheaper).
- The entrance fee to a historical site costs around $3.50 for foreigners.
In total, I’ve spent nearly two years backpacking across India and have probably only scratched the surface of the amazing experience India has to offer.
Like many veterans of travel in India, I both love and hate the country. I’ve had some of the best days of my life riding a tuk-tuk around the countryside, but the struggle to carve out a life here – as a local and a traveller – can sometimes get too much.
But, the juicy truth remains: India is absolutely one of the cheapest places to visit in the world.
With the famous salt flats, stunning architecture, dirt cheap parties, and world-renowned trekking, Bolivia is an EPIC budget travel destination.
Bolivia is a very ethnically diverse country. It’s actually the most indigenous country in the Americas, with a majority of the population having Native American ancestry.
Unlike its neighbours, Bolivia remains an off the beaten path destination. Intrepid travellers who make it here are rewarded with an abundance of adventure activities and some of the most beautiful landscapes on the continent!
If you stick mostly to local markets and restaurants, it’s easy to fill up your belly without emptying your wallet. You can easily get a good meal for $2-3.
It’s fairly easy to keep yourself entertained on a cheap trip to Bolivia. Free walking tours (tip-based), hiking, and exploring local parks and markets cost little to nothing.
Of course, your budget will go up significantly depending on how many big tours you add to your itinerary. You might have to fork over a few hundred dollars for a 3-day Salt Flats tour, but it’s well worth it! That’s the beauty of travelling like a dirtbag. You save money in your everyday activities and get to splurge on some truly special experiences.
In 2016, I hitchhiked across Europe to Turkey. Then I went from Turkey up to Georgia. This is a fucking BEAUTIFUL destination to travel to – and a cheap place at that! Turkey isn’t quite European, isn’t quite Asian, isn’t quite Eastern European. They are a truly special blend of them all.
It’s worth travelling with a tent in Turkey and there are also lots of caves, – especially around the Cappadocia region! In 2017 I returned to Cappadocia for some time without my phone and some time beneath the stars.
Turkey is an often overlooked destination but this is crazy! Istanbul is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is a crossroads of cultures – and the fantastic food reflects this. It has epic hiking and is easy hitchhiking.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Turkey is also one of the best cheap places to travel to in the world!
Mexico is a country that’s hard to sum up in a few sentences! This massive North American nation covers nearly two million square kilometres and is home to just about every landscape imaginable. Here you’ll find:
- Stunning beaches
- Rugged mountains
- Barren deserts
- Sprawling metropolises
- Tropical rainforests
Backpacking Mexico is an incredible experience with endless options. In just one trip, you can wander around ancient Mayan cities, stroll through colourful colonial towns, get lost in Mexico City, and wind down on a pristine beach. Plus, tacos for DAYS, son!
Travellers flock to Mexico in droves every year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In 2016, it was the eighth most-visited country on Earth with over 35 million international visitors!
That said, unfortunately, many tourists never see Mexico outside of their resort walls. Yikes.
That’s not you, though! You’re here for an adventure, and an adventure is exactly what you’ll get. You can hitchhike through the countryside and drink mezcal until you see stars; you can hike through the jungle; some of the world’s best diving is here; you can even have a taste of the boat life here! The Gulf of Mexico is very popular to go sailing in.
The best part of all this? Mexico can be a GREAT cheap place to travel. It can also be incredibly expensive. It largely depends on where you stay, what you eat, and how you get around. If you do everything the local way, your money will go very far here.
Those who prefer all-inclusive resorts and taxis will obviously spend a lot more. Lame! Be a dirtbag – see the REAL Mexico!
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What to Pack While Travelling Cheap
Being able to camp and cook your own meals shaves all-important dollars from your daily spending. If you are committed to travelling to all the best budget destinations on offer, it’s worth sorting out your packing list. Not only do you open yourself up to more epic camping, but your valuables are safer too. A happy camper is a prepared camper!
Active Roots Money Belt
This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.
GRAYL Geopress Filtered Bottle
Having a filtered water bottle means you can drink from just about any source. The GRAYL Geopress is hands-down the most effective one we’ve ever used as well!
Active Roots Microfiber Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.
Active Roots Camping Hammock
Taking a tent backpacking is not always practical but hammocks are lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy (chicks dig hammocks), and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
I always travel with a hanging toiletry bag as it’s a super-efficient way to organize your bathroom stuff. Well worth having as it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Staying Safe as a Broke-ass Backpacker
Being a budget traveller is only fun as long as you live to tell the tale. Call me dramatic all you want, but you gotta take care of yourself on the road!
At the end of the day, drugs can eat into a budget very quickly. And where the drugs are cheap, it’s pretty easy to get stuck in your vices. But drugs on the road are almost guaranteed to be part of your travelling experience. Use them wisely, and take care of your homies!
Call it getting older, but I think getting insured is a good idea! I can let my wild side loose in good conscience knowing that if shit hits the fan, I won’t be left to rot in the Guatemalan jungle!
A Story on the Necessity of Travel Insurance
“Once upon a time, I almost lost my leg in a sweltering jungle…
I battled a seriously nasty infection that snaked up past my knee and by the time I made it to a local hospital they wanted to amputate. I was delirious, unable to walk, and in a lot of pain but I managed to call my insurance provider – they moved me to a much better private hospital where the doctors were able to save my leg.
I wracked up $15,000 in hospital bills, but these were completely covered by my travel insurance. Luckily, I still have my leg today, and whilst it is permanently damaged, I’m grateful every day it’s still attached!
Moral of the story: consider getting travel insurance before you head out into the wilds, people!“
Final Advice to Travelling to Cheap Places!
There is no need to have thousands of dollars in your bank account before you go travelling! There are many amazing and cheap places waiting to welcome you. As a backpacker, you will quickly learn how to stretch your precious dollars just that little bit further!
But, not all destinations were born equal! You will find it easier to travel cheaply in Asia than you will in Australia or America. That being said, the tried and true methods of hitchhiking and volunteering can make most places accessible.
Travel is truly one of the greatest things you can do for your personal growth and understanding of the world. So pack your bag, count your coins, and get exploring! There’s a whole wide world waiting for you – and it’s full of some amazing budget destinations along the way.
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