At the end of 2002 I published the first edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. If it sold a couple hundred copies I was going to be happy, but I put out there because nothing like it existed. I figured there was a market for a guide that put what would require weeks of research into one inexpensive package.
Turns out there was quite a sizable market. I have revised it three times since, it came out in Italian even, and I turned down a couple offers to put it through a traditional publisher. (Less control plus less money didn’t seem like a smart move.) The book has become a perennial strong seller, a staple for round-the-world backpacking planners and vacationers looking for the best travel values on the planet.
After an edition has been out a few years though, the sales start to slow down. People look at the date of publication on Amazon and assume the info is outdated. Most of it is not—prices don’t change all that rapidly outside of exchange rate differences—but I get the sentiment so I try to keep it fresh. This year I’m working on edition #5, which I hope to get out before December of this year.
New Destinations and Updates
I just booked a flight to Sarajevo this summer to spend some time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and maybe Kosovo. At least two of these will probably make the next edition. I’m looking at adding Georgia to the mix as well, but may have to rely on others for that as I’m not sure I’ll make it there in time.
Later in the year I’m headed to Nepal and India as I haven’t been to either for a long time and want to get a first-person look at how things have changed in two of the cheapest destinations on the planet.
I’m moving Mexico from “honorable mention” to its own chapter since the peso devaluation has made it cheaper than it has ever been before. You could get by for as little as $1,000 a month there in the interior if you were frugal and didn’t move around too much.
So what’s getting dropped?
Probably nothing. With the U.S. dollar being so strong right now, the only destination I featured in the current edition that might be more expensive now is Jordan. But that’s partly just because the tourist sites are priced so high. I’ll probably leave it in because it’s still a good value and they deserve the visitors for being a sea of tranquility in a really bad neighborhood. I’ll just have to change the “21 countries” part in the subhead to whatever the final tally ends up being.
What’s Been Your Experience in the Cheapest Destinations?
I always pay attention to the comments on this blog and people send me e-mails after their trips sometime with updates. For Americans the comments have mostly been “It’s even cheaper than you said in the book!” For Canadians and Europeans, there’s been more grumbling. When your own currency is in decline, it naturally drives up the prices elsewhere since you’re getting less bang for your euro or loonie.
Regardless of where you earn your income though, leave a comment below if you’ve been to any of the featured countries in the past six months or so and noticed that something was out of whack in my overviews. Prices can and will change and though usually it’s gradual, sometimes a government policy change or market disruption can change things quickly.
You can see the full table of contents if you click on “Look Inside” here on Amazon.
Whether you’ve been to Indonesia or Laos, Slovakia or Guatemala, what did you experience on the ground that was a surprise to the upside or downside in traveler prices?