As someone who has a book out called The World’s Cheapest Destinations, I am naturally rather opinionated about which places give travelers the best bang for their budget. The problem with roundups and lists of any kind though is that things are seldom that black and white. The length of your trip matters. The cost to get there matters. How much comfort and convenience you require matters a lot.
So I’m always on the lookout for other well-informed round-ups that at least attempt to back up their assertions with some real numbers. Don’t get me started on those silly “Bargain places to visit this year” that throw in England because the pound is down a bit from its 2-to-1 high against the dollar or New Zealand because flights have dropped below $1,500 a person. (I once had a journalist interview me for one of those articles and she brought up Australia three times. After I insisted the third time that there was no aspect making it a travel bargain, especially factoring in airfare, the article came out featuring four cheap countries plus…Australia.)
Anyway, seven of the ten destinations in this Lonely Planet piece are covered in detail in my book, so it gets the thumbs up: Countries that can still be travelled on the cheap. Two it looks like they just stuck in to be controversial—Iran and Sudan. Boy sign me up for that package deal to Sudan. What a dream! And what a great political statement that would be to help support a war criminal and a Holocaust denier. For Iran they say, “What you won’t find is a glut of other travellers and the hindrance of mass tourism.” Um, maybe because of travel bans and widespread sanctions?
I won’t argue with Poland though. I’ve never had any burning desire to go there, but the countryside is pretty free from tour buses and they do have some good biking greenways.
People send me e-mails every day asking me to talk up their new website, but this one is actually worth mentioning. Called Budget Your Trip, it was put together by someone who obviously has a deep love of Excel and who likes to keep meticulous track of what the couple spent on the road. It’s got lots of holes and you could argue with just about any data point presented, but it’s still a pretty cool way to compare cost estimates across different areas. If you’re equally obsessive, you can use it to track all your travel expenses and then see the results in nifty pie charts.
You can check out the round-the-world cost breakdown from their own trip and see some interesting things. I say in my book that Africa isn’t really cheap despite the poverty and they confirmed that showing that Kenya was the most expensive place they visited on a per-day cost basis, thanks to a safari tour. In Nepal half their budget went to food. In much of Europe half went to accommodation. In Ethiopia half went to intercity transportation.