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Cheapest places to travel in 2024 (when you’re young and broke)

slovenia-lake-bled

Travel broadens the mind. But how to broaden the mind without selling your soul? Sounds tricky, but it really doesn’t have to be. With a good bit of research into cheap destinations, a cheap flight or two plus some modest accommodation, you can be out there tackling your bucket list in no time – without breaking the bank.

Need help finding cheap places to travel? Fear not, budget travellers, keep reading for 25 of the cheapest places to travel, broken down by continent. Bring on the inspo.

There’s this thing called the off season

Also known as winter. Or the shoulder season, which comes at both the ‘shoulders’ of the summer – AKA spring and autumn. 

By avoiding the busy tourist season, you don’t just avoid sweltering heat and endless crowds, you also avoid peak-time prices. Accommodation and flights will be much cheaper – so will restaurant prices, and even tickets to the biggest tourist attractions.

couple-on-holiday

Watch what you eat

Sometimes it’s cheaper to just go to McDonald’s. Other times it 100% isn’t. It depends where you are. 

Wherever you go, though, if you want to explore on a budget, it’s useful to ask yourself what the locals do. You might find that local restaurants are much more affordable than the big tourist traps. Street food is also your friend, plus bakeries (or the local equivalent.) Don’t forget supermarkets or local markets either – especially if your hostel has a kitchen. 

Another way of making your vacation cheaper is to fill up during the daytime. Many popular eating areas will have daytime specials (or equivalent.) Save money by making lunch your biggest meal of the day and then just snacking in the evening.

chinese-new-year

Europe

Georgia

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $10 (local cuisine is way cheaper!)

Fave free museum: Tbilisi Wine Museum, Tbilisi

Oh Georgia. Sitting at the intersection between Europe and Asia, it’s a bit of an underdog when it comes to popular tourist destinations. Home to a thriving techno scene, loads of ancient castles and churches, plus tremendous views of the Caucasus mountains, Georgia has a little something for everyone. Because it’s still relatively unknown as a destination, you’ll find that most activities are surprisingly affordable – so you’ll save money while dining in style. You’ll get a shared hostel dorm for $5 – $10 per night, or perhaps more if you visit during the peak season. Public transport is also cheap in Georgia, so you don’t need to worry too much about getting around. 

Tbilisi Landscape

Croatia

Cost of hostel: $10 – $25 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4 

Fave free museum: Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, Zagreb 

It’s easy to save money when you don’t feel forced to spend it, and you won’t feel forced to spend money where you’re happy to just… be. With gorgeous weather (even in spring/autumn) and equally gorgeous views, you’ll be happy just to sit back and watch the world go by in Croatia – making GoT references to your travel buddies every now and then. Local food is more than affordable, and you’ll get a hostel dorm for a reasonable price here too.

Contiki travellers enjoying Croatian meal

Romania

Cost of hostel: $10 – $15 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: Museum of Senses, Bucharest

Known for the mythical home of Count Dracula, and more recently as the filming location for Netflix’s smash-hit Wednesday, Romania is a haven for goths of all ages. As a destination, it’s off the beaten track, so you can explore the beautiful medieval villages in relative peace. Romania is one of Europe’s cheapest places to travel, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly Europe trip, this is the place to go. Food, drinks and accommodation are very cheap, the public transport is reliable and there are loads of free parks to kick back in (so bring your book, or your cricket set.) To make your Romanian escape even cheaper, check out the local food markets instead of eating out at restaurants – just remember to book a hostel with a communal kitchen.

Romania - Peles Castle

Italy

Cost of hostel: $15 – $30 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4

Fave free museum: The Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Rome

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Italy? It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in the world!’ 

True, it is… but a trip to Italy doesn’t have to be super expensive. Because it’s so popular, Italy can be a cheap destination to fly to. It also has an advanced train network and is an affordable place to travel around. As for food (and wine), it may be pricey in some restaurants, especially in the capital city, but you won’t have to travel far to find a good lunchtime special. With the Duomo, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and a squillion other world-renowned landmarks, there’s plenty to see and do here too without having to splash all your cash. (Remember that you don’t have to go inside them all, many are just as dazzling from a distance.)

best foods in the world

Portugal

Cost of hostel: $15 – $25 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4

Fave free museum: MUDA Design Museum, Lisbon 

From Belem to Sintra, Portugal is another destination that’s blessed with plenty of buildings, bridges and beautiful beaches to marvel at. You can also save money here by just sunbathing – even in spring/autumn. Become a regular at the local markets and bakeries to keep costs down further. Both are cheaper than dining out – although it’s worth stretching the budget to have a few meals while you’re here.

porto portugal

Poland

Cost of hostel: $10 – $15 per night 

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Rynek Underground Museum, Kraków

A budget destination with a deep historical offering and an unbeatable nightlife scene. Want to unleash your inner foodie? Poland is the place for you with its humongous selection of cosy pubs and restaurants, ranging in price but always great value for money. Poland’s also a picturesque country, with reliable local transport, so you’ll be able to spend plenty of time just walking around and taking it all in. 

Poland was significantly affected by World War 2, and there are lots of museums dedicated to this. Many are free, most are reasonably priced and all are worth checking out.

Krakow, Poland

Czech Republic

Cost of hostel: $8 – $12 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4

Fave free museum: National Technical Museum, Prague

Tell me there’s cheap beer without telling me there’s cheap beer. ‘We’re going to Prague.’

If you’re looking for a budget friendly night out, look no further than the Czech Republic. Prague is becoming more and more popular with tourists from around the world, and it’s getting more expensive, but you’ll still get a great bang for your buck. Literature buffs will enjoy the Kafka museum, budding architects will marvel at the beaut bridges, and any traveller will enjoy the reasonably priced public transport. You also get big portions for a modest price at most of the restaurants. And then there’s the hotdog stands…

Cheapest countries in Europe - Czech Republic

Slovenia

Cost of hostel: $15 – $25 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4 

Fave free museum: Ljubljana Castle, Ljubljana

Admiring Lake Bled is free, admiring Lake Bled is free and… oh yes, admiring Lake Bled is free.

But in case you need more convincing to visit Slovenia, here goes. There’s plenty of natural beauty to explore, it’s generally a great destination if you love the outdoors. Even better, the shoulder season makes for better walking weather (so Slovenia lends itself well to being explored during off-peak times.) Ljubljana is an awesome city with lots of students and young people, and the nightlife is reasonably priced too. 

To make your trip to Slovenia even cheaper, try flying into a neighbouring country and taking the coach from there. Buses can be very cheap – just make sure you download a few podcasts.

slovenia-snowy-mountain

Slovakia

Cost of hostel: $7 – $15 per night 

Cost of Big Mac: $4

Fave free museum: Devín Castle, Bratislava

Not only is Slovakia a prime destination for outdoor lovers (treetop castles this way), it’s also uber cheap to live like royalty. Accommodation, transport, food and beverages are so reasonably priced that you’ll forget you were ever on a budget. 

Don’t miss Slovak Paradise and Tatras (both High and Low) for outstanding natural beauty.

The Americas

Mexico

Cost of hostel: $10 – $25 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Soumaya Museum, Mexico City

Think about it this way, with gorgeous beaches and cheap tacos from local carts, what else do you need to splash out on? (Minus the margheritas, that is.) 

With affordable accommodation aplenty and an abundance of street food in the major cities, Mexico might be one of the cheapest places to travel across the Americas. Travelling from one region to another might increase your costs though; one way to mitigate this is to travel with a group of 3-4, and share a car between you. Failing that, just be strategic, choose your region in advance and aim to stay there for the bulk of your trip.

mexico-beach-couple

Costa Rica

Cost of hostel: $12 – $25 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $4

Fave free museum: Museum of Precolumbian Gold, San Jose 

Costa Rica may not be your first thought when you hear the phrase ‘budget destinations’ out loud. And it’s true, it certainly isn’t one of the cheapest places to travel – but that doesn’t mean you need an epic bank balance to have an epic time here. 

As with Mexico, try to plan your region in advance and stay there for most/all of your break. This’ll mean you don’t have to spend money on in-country transport. When it comes to eating, avoid the tourist traps and seek out local eateries instead. You’ll be surprised at how affordable these can be. And as far as activities go, chilling on the beach and admiring a Caribbean sunset costs nothing, now does it?

Costa Rica

Colombia

Cost of hostel: $8 – $15 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Gold Museum, Bogotá

Colombia might be the destination in South America that has it all. I’m talking about awesome cities with colourful architecture, the Amazon rainforest and its myriad of wildlife, plus areas like Combia with truly unique and beautiful hiking routes. 

What makes Colombia even better is that you can have an awesome time there without spending heaps of cash. Hostel prices are modest, so is the local food. After that, there’s a colourful and diverse culture to start exploring.

Colombia

USA

Cost of hostel: $30 – $50

Cost of Big Mac: $5 

Fave free museum: Oklahoma Railway Museum, Oklahoma City

Okay, so just like Italy and Costa Rica, you probably don’t associate the USA as a budget destination. And it probably isn’t, but it can still be an affordable destination if you plan your trip the right way. 

If you’re travelling with 3-4 friends, the first thing to do is hire a car instead of taking public transport – that way you can split the costs between you instead of paying for 3-4 individual tickets. If you don’t want to drive, select your state before you go and stay close by throughout your visit. Texas and Florida are among the more affordable USA states, but the entire country has the advantage of being filled with attractions that are fun to just look at. 

Being such a popular destination and home to many people, you should be able to find flights to the USA for a competitive price. The same goes for food – you don’t have to eat expensive to eat well.

Asia

Vietnam

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3 

Fave free museum: Military History Museum, Hanoi 

Oh Vietnam, the wonder of Southeast Asia, where the local food is cheap and healthy too! You can make your way around easily by motorbike (which you don’t have to drive yourself, although it’s cheaper and easier if you do) and the sublime countryside doesn’t cost anything to admire.

Three travelers on a boat in Vietnam.

Thailand

Cost of hostel: $10 – $20 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Art & Culture Centre, Bangkok

High on wanderlust but low on funds? Thailand might be your ideal destination. With a mix of parties, cultural interest and beautiful natural areas, there’s a little something for everyone. Thailand is popular with tourists too, so you’re guaranteed to meet fellow travellers while you’re out there. 

The islands can be more expensive than Northern Thailand, but overall, the entire country is one of the cheapest places to travel – especially if you fill up on the delicious street food.

thailand-adventure

India

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi

Generally speaking, India might be THE cheapest country to visit. Often overwhelming, always exciting, it’s an explosion of colours, culture and cuisines. The food is cheap, and so is basic accommodation. The major tourist areas might be a bit more pricey but India is still an affordable destination on the whole – the south tends to be the cheapest area (and that’s also where the best beaches are.)

nadine-sykora-taj-mahal-india

Laos

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: COPE, Vientiane 

You’ll find Laos to be just as cheap as its Southeast Asian counterparts, but the pace of life there is far more relaxed. Are you in it for outdoor activities more than wild parties? Laos might be the one for you.

laos-luang-prabang

Cambodia

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh

Accommodation is so cheap in Cambodia that you might even consider upgrading to somewhere more luxurious than a hostel – you are on holiday after all! Much like the rest of Southeast Asia, it’s cheap to eat local food here in Cambodia, and you can travel by Tuk Tuk between all the big attractions at a very low cost.

Siem-Reap-Cambodia

Nepal

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu 

Steer clear of Everest and you’ll find Nepal to be one of the cheapest destinations on the market. Local guest houses are available in abundance, for very little fare, and you can save even more pennies by dining on street food. If you can stretch to one or two sit-down meals at a local Nepalese restaurant though, you won’t regret it.

nepal-mardi-himal-base-camp

Turkey

Cost of hostel: $10 – $15 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

You’ll eat and sleep for great value in Turkey, and there are a load of free tourist attractions to check out too. Some of the activities are best avoided if you’re on a budget, like hot air balloon rides, which can be expensive. Travel across the country can get expensive too, but you can limit this by planning in advance or choosing your destinations carefully.

Turkey-Istanbul-Contiki

Indonesia

Cost of hostel: $8 – $30 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $3

Fave free museum: Wayang Museum, Jakarta 

As a rule of thumb, Indonesia is cheap so long as you’re not floating from island to island. Limiting your stay to 1-2 areas is sure to keep costs down, and the same goes for travelling on foot or by scooter. Most local foods and drinks are affordable here too (not to mention delicious!) Indonesia is another destination where there’s plenty to do for free, like chilling on the beach or heading out for a hike.

Africa

Egypt

Cost of hostel: $5 – $10 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: Egyptian Museum, Cairo

One of the world’s most famous tourist destinations (for history buffs at least), you’d expect Egypt to be higher up on the pricing scale than it actually is. Turns out, accommodation and food are very reasonable here. Some of the major tourist attractions may be slightly higher, but your other modest expenses should outweigh this (and besides, it’s the pyramids.)

Friends sitting in front of Pyramids of Giza in Egypt

South Africa

Cost of hostel: $12 – $20 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: South African Jewish Museum, Cape Town 

The beauty of South Africa is its diverse range of attractions. You’ll find affordable safari days at one of the country’s many national parks, plus lots of breathtaking views like the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town (that are free to admire.) Food and accommodation are more than reasonable here, especially if your hostel has a kitchen. 

The only caveat is that public transport outside of Cape Town/Johannesburg isn’t the best. You can mitigate this by hiring a car… or heading out on Contiki’s ‘Garden Route & Addo’ trip, where all the driving is all taken care of for you!

Lions in South Africa

Namibia

Cost of camping: $10 – $20 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: National Museum, Windhoek

Namibia can be costly, but it’s not impossible to visit on a budget. Instead of staying at a luxury lodge (which make up most of the accommodations here), try camping outside one instead. You’ll be able to sleep for much less, and may still be entitled to use the kitchen supplies in the lodge too, which will save you money from not having to eat out. 

Getting around Namibia can be costly. As with other destinations, hiring a car with a group of 3-4 will be the most cost effective option. Either that or visiting with Contiki…

Namibia stars

Morocco

Cost of hostel: $10 – $20 per night

Cost of Big Mac: $2

Fave free museum: Dar Bellarj, Marrakech 

Morocco is one of the cheapest places to travel in Africa, especially if you can get reasonably priced flights. As for accommodation, a luxury riad won’t break the bank, but it’s even cheaper for a dorm in a basic hostel. The cuisine is unique and very fairly priced. There isn’t much of a drinking culture in Morocco either, making it the perfect destination if you’re looking for a wholesome experience, replete with gorgeous temples and scorching hot weather.

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