The best travel spots are where the cost of living is cheaper than your hometown; that way, every vacation day allows you to soak up the sun and culture without draining your bank account. Keep your wallet (and passport) happy by choosing one of these five cheap travel hot spots that offer plenty of escapades, keep your mailbox free of credit card statements, and allow more local currency in your money belt.
With over 17,000 islands to explore (and scientists still counting), Indonesia is the perfect country to island hop and discover natural riches before they become extinct. Orangutans on Borneo and Sumatra, dragons on Komodo, volcanoes on Lombok and Flores, and the religious, artisan culture of Bali make Indonesia one of my favorite secrets in Asia. The flight will cost you, but the delicious food, exquisite handcrafts, and lodging surrounded by lotus ponds, will not.
Flights to Europe are coming down in price due to cheap, new carriers—flights to Romania, not so much. But friends liken Romania to the Czech Republic and Hungary I visited in the early 90s. Though this former Eastern Bloc country lassoed in the Euro, prices still reflect a slow-going economy, especially in the emerald countryside between villages and towns. Soviet monuments in Bucharest, castles in Bran, architectural charm in Sibiu, along with the Romanians’ kindness, put this jaunt at the top of my bucket list.
On a last minute trip to Honduras during summer, I floated in the Caribbean Sea of the Bay Islands for seven days and depleted only fifteen hundred dollars from my checking account, including airfare and scuba certification. Their courses rival Thailand, both in cost and quality of instruction, and I saved even more by sharing a room with my travel mate in an old colonial house (with clean beds) for only fifteen dollars a night.
When I flipped through a friend’s photo tour of Bolivia, I got jingles in my pants to hop on a flight heading south. Bolivia’s high desert houses a flock of pink flamingos while indigenous people dressed in multicolored costumes hold on to their simple way of life. Travel through Bolivia remains a fraction of what it now costs to tango in neighboring Argentina, and high-end meals plus lodging will set you back only fifteen to fifty dollars.
Travel to Mexico is still cheap, with ten pesos to the dollar and an exchange rate that rarely fluctuates. I fell in love with the untouched sweeping beaches along the Michoacán coast where I drove to from San Francisco. Nexpa is a surfer’s perfect point break spot and the state’s capital city of Morelia rivals colonial towns in Spain. Both boutique hotels in the cities and beachfront palapas on the coast run thirty to fifty dollars a night, and eating fresh ceviche, guacamole, and a Corona goes for less than ten dollars.