Published on January 16th, 2018
Looking to take a cheap vacation in 2018? You’ve come to the right place. While experts are predicting that travel prices are on the rise this year, with airfares expected to go up by 3.5% and hotel prices to increase by 3.7%, it’s still possible to take a budget trip in 2018 — if you know where to go.
That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you’ll get more bang for your buck. Here are 20 places you can visit without breaking the bank.
There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts aplenty, tantalising cuisine and adventures galore, and all available at often staggeringly low prices.
2. South Africa
One of the great things about travelling in South Africa is that it’s possible to have a safari experience here – complete with the Big Five – without encountering a budget-breaking bill. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi to see white rhino and to avoid the crowds of Kruger, to the Drakensberg for superlative hiking, and don’t forget to factor in at least a few days in amazing Cape Town.
For an affordable and sun-soaked vacation, southern Portugal’s Algarve region should be hot on your radar. The city of Albufeira boasts a beautiful climate, fabulous beaches, inexpensive apartment-style hotels and a central location within the Algarve. There are over 100 different restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and Albufeira even has a charming Old Town with traditional Portuguese streets and plazas within the city center. The prices for both food and wine are extremely reasonable; be sure to sample the wines of Portugal. While summer remains the busiest and most popular time to visit
Manaus in the north of Brazil is a short flight from Miami and provides multiple economical options in one. It is a top destination for adventure travel or a sedate wildlife and photography sojourn or a serious eco-tour.
Although it’s a city of 1 million inhabitants, Manaus is mainly famous as the gateway to the Amazon rain forest.
When people think of beach getaways, they never consider Egypt. Tourism in Egypt is down, due to the unstable government, shaky economy and terrorism. Despite this, you shouldn’t fear going to Egypt. In my experience, I have found it to be completely safe. Plus, it’s remarkably cheap. During the low season (spring), you can catch flights from the U.S. to Egypt for around $400-$600 then get a flight to Hurghada for around $50 or so roundtrip, depending on the date.
6. The Caribbean
While the devastating hurricanes of 2017 impacted just a portion of the Caribbean region, it damaged some of its more cruise-popular spots, like Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, St. Bart’s, and the U.S.V.I.’s St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. While all are under significant rehab and rebuilding — and most are actually now open to cruise ships and tourists, this could be a perfect year to explore more exotic islands.
Despite a remarkable rate of change over the decades since the end of the American War, Vietnam remains amazing value for Western visitors. The country’s greatest attraction is its sublime countryside, from the limestone karsts of the north to the waterways and paddy fields of the Mekong Delta, with blissful beaches and frenetic cities crammed in between.
If you’ve already visited Brazil and Argentina, or are just looking for a better value destination, head instead to neighbouring Uruguay. You’ll be relieved to hear you can still find excellent steak here; plus, there plenty of lovely beaches to choose from – head to Cabo Polonio for quieter sands and abundant wildlife – and the gorgeous old capital of Montevideo.
Since relations between Cuba and the US started rapidly warming up, there’s never been a better time to visit this Caribbean island. Go now before it changes beyond recognition – and before the prices start to go up and up even more. Hit the salsa clubs of Havana, get caught up in the heady July carnival of Santiago, or dip your toes in the warm Caribbean at Varadero Beach – whatever you do, you’ll find it hard not to leave utterly intoxicated.
India remains one of the ultimate destinations for budget travellers – there are few countries where you can still travel so extensively and eat so well for so little. If you’re after a beach break, eschew Goa for the gorgeous beaches of the temple town of Gokarna; for amazing food, it’s hard to beat the puris and kebabs of Mumbai’s street stalls; or head to the Golden City of Jaisalmer from where you can explore the seemingly endless sands of the Thar Desert.
11. Prague, Czech Republic
Despite being firmly on the tourist – not to mention bachelor party – trail these days, Prague remains one of Europe’s cheapest capital cities to visit. For just a few Czech Crowns you can enjoy a hearty meal, washed down with decent local beer, of course. The city itself is a beauty, crammed full of history and perfect for leisurely explorations by foot.
Don’t be put off Greece by the country’s ongoing economic crisis – if anything, the financial situation is all the more reason to travel here and to support the local people.
The situation does mean that prices are still cheaper than they once were, and that means that you might be able to squeeze an extra island or two into your itinerary. Pay by credit card in advance, but take enough cash with you for your travels, and you’re pretty much guaranteed an amazing trip.
Flight prices to Ireland have tumbled over the past few years, meaning you can get to Dublin for less than you might think. Once in the Irish capital, stay at the central Generator Hostel and you could pay just €13 for your bed. Free things to do in the Irish capital include visiting the Chester Beatty Library.
Kuala Lumpur is a gem most people have not found out about, which is to your benefit. Kuala Lumpur has a mix of different cultures, from Asian to Indian, which makes the food really great.
With so much to see in Namibia, Windhoek, the country’s capital, is just the jumping point. Best of all, the U.S. dollar is strong enough to make travel, accommodations and activities all relatively inexpensive in the country — even for some luxury experiences. Windhoek is cheap in itself and has plenty of see, between exploring the local scenes like at the Namibia Craft Centre and checking out the city’s German influence like at the Christuskirche church.
The second largest city in Morocco, Fez has an enchanting souk, lively markets, fascinating leather tanneries and quaint cafes serving Moroccan mint tea and local pastries.
Fez is also filled to the brim with palatial riads, Moroccan homes built around a central courtyard or garden, which feature cozy rooms and rooftop terraces where you can relax after a walk through the bustling labyrinth of alleyways right outside your front door.
17. Sri Lanka
This small island nation is easy on the wallet and big on experiences. Delicious (albeit spicy) food, stunning ancient rock formations in Sigiriya, surfing at Arugam Bay, and some of the most physically rewarding hikes you’ve ever done.
Climbing to the top of Adam’s Peak and (barely) surviving the 5,500 steep stairs that make up this pilgrimage, with the help of a friend and a monk, taught me some inner lessons about strength and power. Don’t miss a chance to visit Ella, a small mountain town with a laid-back hippy vibe, accessible via a scenic train ride from Kandy that will cost you less than $10 and bring you past stunning tea plantations.
For an epic adventure that won’t break your travel piggy bank, head to the Komodo Islands , named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Most of the islands in Indonesia are incredibly undermined because of how popular Bali is, but Komodo and its surrounding islands are definitely worth a visit.
Your budget will definitely stretch to tacos and tequila aplenty in Mexico – which is great news as there’s a lot of ground to cover in this vibrant country. Whether you want to string your hammock up along dazzling white sands, sample some of the country’s best street food in Oaxaca or cool off in a crystal-clear cenote (sinkhole), the country will leave you eager to come back for more.
Often unfairly overlooked, Bulgaria has a lot to offer budget travellers – not least some of the most deserted beaches in Europe, at bargain prices. In addition to its appealing coastline, there’s also lots of lovely old towns, including Varna on the coast and ancient Plovdiv, and a number of dramatic mountain ranges that are perfect for exploration on foot or by bike.