I think there’s a lot of negative stigma when it comes to “cheap” travel destinations – nobody wants their holiday to be too cheap. But there are a lot of budget-friendly destinations out there, and most of them you’re well aware of – sometimes they’re so obvious, they’re discounted.
Here’s a few ideas on destinations that offer holidays for great value, if you know where to look. Plan ahead and you’ll be able to squeeze a great trip into a tiny travel budget.
Mexico gets a lot of bad press when it comes to violent crime (and those pesky documentaries about border controls), but there’s no press release about the millions that come here each and every week and have a great time. You can get fantastic, budget-friendly all inclusive resorts and these days, flying into Cancun is a good price. Just keep your common sense handy and you’ll be fine.
Travel to the US is such a bargain, if you know where to look. Why? Because Americans love travelling in their own country, so there is huge pricing pressures. And with such a diverse range of budget hotels and restaurants, and plenty of the great outdoors (which for the most part is free).
Where? Think upstate New York, West Virginia, Colorado, Texas.
When I say Cambodia, most people think of Angkor Wat, which is certainly one of the most impressive places I’ve seen in my lifetime. But did you know that Cambodia has a handful of beach towns, like Thailand? There’s also the capital city which has a very curious urban vibe to it. I like Cambodia the best out of the Southeast Asia countries, and it’s very very inexpensive to visit except for your plane ticket.
Portugal is a great alternative to Spain, and as a bonus you get some fantastic food and a variety of experiences, from city to beaches to forests. Head to the north of Portugal for some truly magical experiences, and expect great value everywhere you go.
From the fantastic views in Budapest, to tiny charming towns and countryside, Hungary at first seems more modern than one expects, but at the same time, it’s also a little more quiet. Skipping the crowds who line up for the churches and museums in the summer heat, even enjoying some of the country’s music festivals or a long soak in a historic bath can be relatively painless on the wallet.
I don’t know what happened with this one. One day, Costa Rica was Central America’s budget hot spot, with famed rainforests and a thriving “green travel” economy. Then, it was all of a sudden yesterday’s news. Prices aren’t as cheap as they once were, but the upside is more options and a better tourism infrastructure. And it’s still a gorgeous place to visit.
I’ll skip the passing references to the “imminent” change that is likely to happen once the American travel embargo to this island nation changes. Cuba is still great value and offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience – the old cars and unhurried locals make for a holiday that leaves you wondering why everyone is in such a rush back home.
While South America isn’t my favourite part of the world to visit, Argentina is where to go if you want a relative bargain. Brazil can be cheaper, but your costs will be eaten up by the need for guides – unless your Brazilian Portugese is good! But in Argentina, you’ll find reasonable accommodation in Buenos Aires (and plenty of free things to do in the city), and many of the excursions into the gorgeous countryside can be had for a decent fare.
Poland’s changed a lot in the last decade, and with some serious improvements to their public transport infrastructure as well as a big tourism push, it seems more residents are staying home and opening B&Bs or running tours instead of working in other industries (often abroad). With good food and drink to be had for cheap, and so many cultural attractions, it’s a wonder this place isn’t busier year-round.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) seems to be one of those places that changes as quickly as the sun rises and sets. Getting there is easier now as flight capacity has dramatically increased, and while you won’t be staying in one of the ultra-luxe high rise hotels, there are plenty of more budget friendly options. And just wandering around some of the older parts of the cities – and gawking at the sprawl of the malls and shopping – will certainly provide for a memorable trip!
Have you got a budget travel destination you think is overlooked? Share in the comments!
Photos by Charlie Dave & Andy Hayes
Posted : Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 at 10:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.