How Much Will it Cost Me to Travel in (Fill in the Blank)?

Cheapest places to travel in the world

Once upon a time I went backpacking around the world for the first time, some 20 years ago, and it was really hard to put that itinerary together. Not because of fights between the two of us on where we should and shouldn’t go, but because we had a limited budget and needed to see where we could really afford to go.

That guided our choices, as it should for most travelers who are not living off a trust fund, a few years of hedge fund savings, or a very generous set of parents. Even if you’re really frugal or are crashing at someone’s house, a week in Japan will cost you what a month will cost you in Cambodia. A week in Switzerland will get you a month or more in Bulgaria—which also has views like this:

cheapest traveling places

Fast-forward 20 years though and it’s still not all that easy to figure out which places offer the best value. The info is easier to find than it was two decades ago, when we checked 10 guidebooks at a time out of the New York public library to peruse prices. But you can end up down a rabbit hole in a hurry online where nothing seems to make sense or agree.

The easy and obvious choice is to buy the one book I wrote because I couldn’t find the book I wanted. Now in its 4th edition, The World’s Cheapest Destinations will give you the lowdown on where to go and why, and how much you’ll spend on the ground there. You’ll spend a night’s lodging in Malaysia on the paperback, a tad more than a night’s lodging in Nepal on the e-book version. But it’ll save you a fortune overall.

I try to be a generous soul on this Cheapest Destinations Blog though without giving you a hard sell or annoying you with sign-up boxes that pop up and cover up what you’re trying to read, so here’s some free stuff to give you a general idea of what to expect. Enjoy, and happy trails!

Travel prices in…cheapest places to travel











That should be enough to get you started, right? That last one is not one of the cheapest places to travel in the world, but it’s the best value in Western Europe, so that’s worth remembering. The cheapest place that’s sunny and warm in April you could say.

I can’t tell you which countries will leave you breathless and which will make you wish you hadn’t booked your outbound plane ticket in advance, but I can tell you that when your money goes a long way, you have a lot better time. Stressing about how much you’re spending for each meal, each room, each taxi ride, and each beer is no fun. Go where your money buys a lot instead.

  1. Stephen

    Thanks Tim, stuff like this is so useful for planning. I try to post many of my budgets as well:

    Wouldn’t it be great, though, to have a comprehensive list of these spanning the whole world to use in planning trips?

    • Tim Leffel

      That would be a giant job Stephen. Just updating 21 of the cheapest ones every few years is a major undertaking. Prices and exchange rates are always in flux, plus it’s not usually one price for the whole country. Look at Mumbai vs. Hampi or New York vs. Nashville. That’s why you see economists trying to use the Big Mac Index or cost of living indexes to compare costs. All have major flaws. So I just try to focus on where you get the best travel bang for your buck.

  2. GH

    Tim, another great, succinct, post. Thanks for breaking down the reasons and motivations for budget travel so clearly, in addition to the no-nonsense information you provide about your favorite destinations. Like your book on travel writing, your book on the “The World’s Cheapest Destinations” is a must-have and must-read in any format.

  3. Renuka

    Seriously, budgeting is such a pain when travel is a burning urge in your heart. But I like your perspective. Useful tips!

  4. Lorenzo @belizeadventure

    Great post. Your budget guide for Nicaragua is spot on.. Traveling in Central America is cheap but the prices in Nicaragua are just amazing. I wish the same was for my country – I just wrote a backpacking guide to Belize and everyone keeps telling how expensive it is. :(

  5. Jennie

    This is really helpful. I started out planning our RTW trip by just picking places I had heard of and wanted to go. I’m glad we didn’t stick with that plan because Paris, Rome and Tokyo would have drained our budget in two months. Now we’re still stopping in some of those cities for a few days, but spending most of our time where we can really afford to go. Your book has been a great shortcut.

  6. Serbi

    Really great post! There are manny people that are trying to scam tourists, so this is more than usefull!

  7. Alex

    Thanks for sharing. Found bangkok to be a relatively cheap place for food and drink – so cheap that as you move to islands in the south you will say certain prices are expensive (when in reality they aren’t)! Some good tips.

  8. Puru Timalsena

    Without flight fare, Nepal is also the cheapest destination for trekking, hiking, rafting, adventure and mountaineering.

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