It’s super easy to get caught up on the cost of travel because the money you have and are willing to spend is muy importante. I’ve come to learn that you can’t always judge an entire trip based on the cost of getting there. A flight is always my deciding factor, but I now weed out which ones to pass up. Just because a flight is $200, I have to think about whether it’s a location that will require me to stay in a pricey hotel versus a hostel or airbnb. I also need to know if the bare necessities, i.e. food, will have me ready to sell a kidney. I’m looking at you, Turks & Caicos.
If have to spend a minimum of $1000 throughout my trip (never will I ever), then a $100 RT flight to get there means nothing to me. In my opinion, for a trip to be “cheap,” the flight, accommodations, food and activities should all be pretty affordable. And that’s what I took into consideration when compiling this list of MY top three cheapest places to travel.
Belize will always be near and dear to my heart because it was my first solo trip abroad. Also…it was just an all around amazing place to be. I loved every moment from not having access to my airbnb upon arrival, to getting the worst full body sunburn you can imagine. Let’s not discuss the heat rash. However, when I wasn’t island hopping with my selfie stick in tow, I was snoozing on the beach, waiting for happy hour to begin. That’s the life, #amiright?
I seriously was shocked at how affordable my overall trip was and it set the standard for every trip I would take after.
Currency: $1 USD = 2 BZD (Belizean Dollar)
Flight: $257 RT from NYC
Accommodations: $168 for 6 days/5 nights on Caye Caulker in a shared airbnb
Avg Cost of Meals: I personally spent $10-12 but could’ve cut that in half. I was so shocked at what I could get for 10 bucks that I splurged daily.
With low costs like that you can splurge on day trips, activities, and island hopping.
Mexico is one of the few countries I’ve visited several times (Canada, duh, and Italy) and as long as I’m based in the U.S., it’s one of those places I’ll continue to visit. Gorgeous beaches, great weather, and literally a few hours on a flight before I’m in paradise. Another perk? The low cost! Not only are flights from NYC great, but RT flights from DC (where I’m from) are amazing as well.
While Cancun is where these flights usually land, I would recommend straying away from that area. If you’re into partying all night and all inclusive resorts, then Cancun is perfect. But if you’re looking for a little more authentic Mexican culture then places like Mexico City or my favorite, Tulum, should be on your radar. Tulum is well on its way to being overrun by tourists so I advise you head there sooner rather than later.
Tulum is what I think of when I think of affordable Mexico. Not the huge, pricey hotels right on the beach, but the airbnb’s and hostels in the heart of town. Those places where I can walk to get super fresh, and super cheap ceviche and every meal doesn’t have to be had on the hotel premises. I remember having a drink at a bar on the beach and nearly toppling over at the price of it compared to bars and restaurants just down the street form the home I was staying it. It was definitely one of the cheapest places to travel…for me at least. And I think most of Central and South America (outside of uber touristy zones) are as well. But for now we’re talking about Mexico.
Currency: $1 USD = 17.72 MXN (Mexican Pesos)
Flights: I spent less than 23k points for this flight back in January but another trip to Cancun in late April cost me nearly 40k points.
Accommodations: $139 for 3 nights in the top floor room of an airbnb equipped with a full bathroom and rooftop patio access. The other 3 nights I stayed at the gorgeous Senses Riviera Maya by Artisan.
Average Cost of Meals: Looking back at my credit card statements it’s kind of hard to tell how much I spent on food. I was traveling with someone and would use my card to pay while they gave me cash, but knowing me, I kept my meals around $10-$15 (the same as I spend in the states). Especially when in Tulum you can find an authentic meal at a local restaurant for around 10 bucks, if not cheaper.
1. TIE: Thailand & Bali
Ugh. I immediately wanted to say Bali is the cheapest place I’ve traveled, but then I remembered Thailand. Hey, it’s easy to forget when you finally make it to the one Asian destination you’ve ever cared to visit.
These two both come in at #1 for me even though I think I spent way less money in Bali. I also didn’t hit three cities by flight in Bali, so that may matter. Here are some things to take into consideration:
Thailand is uber cheap, but the closer to tourist hot spots you are, the more expensive things will be. So, like in Bali, I paid about $30 a night for a hotel (you can find plenty even cheaper), but when it came to restaurants in the Phuket or Chiang Mai areas I resided, I was spending a minimum of $10-$15 on food. That may not seem like much but this is a place where I also was getting pad thai for less than $1 (Bangkok). It’s all about where you go.
As far as activities, in Bali I was at the beach literally every day or spending loads of time just roaming. Even my day trip to Ubud with a private driver was cheaper than I’d expect the same thing to be in Thailand. When I was in Thailand, I was spending more money on activities but I didn’t mind because everything else was so reasonable. Also, how can you put a price on hanging out with elephants? Well, the Thai can, and did!
Currency: $1 USD = 33.26 THB (Thai Baht) or 13,362.10 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) CHA CHING!
Flights: Bali – after getting a refund on my $600 flight the day before I was set to take it, I used 64k Chase UR points to book my RT flight. Thailand – $471 RT
Accommodations: Bali – $172 for 5 nights in an airbnb that happened to be a hotel. Thailand – $13 per night hostel, $15 per night hostel, and $30 per night hotel
Average cost of meals: $11.17 was the most I spent on a meal in Bali and Thailand was around the same. The best bang for my buck was a meal consisting of sushi, spring rolls, and a beer that was less than 7 bucks in the touristy Kuta Beach area of Bali. The ultimate meal in Thailand? $0.70 pad thai made fresh on the street in Bangkok. IT WAS TOO GOOD.
While I’ve taken trips that could have turned out cheaper than these (insert country that I don’t encourage tourism to) these were overall the CHEAPEST countries I’ve visited, even when taking activities into consideration.
Where’s the cheapest place you’ve traveled?
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