Let's face it, you can add destinations to your "I want to go to there" list until the cows come home, but if your budget doesn't allow for multiple trips per year or even short stays in expensive countries, you'd better re-focus your list-making or you'll never get out of the house. There are plenty of places in the world that are super cheap to visit, and they're not all in Central America or Southeast Asia.
Here are six places that are excellent destinations for budget travelers, in no particular order:
Much of South America is very budget-friendly, but Argentina isn't the super-cheap country it used to be, so head for nearby Bolivia instead. You'll need to put in some effort to spend more than $40 a day here, with accommodation, transportation, and food all being serious bargains. Even an organized tour of the country's famous salt flats is a steal at less than $200 per person for an all-inclusive 4-day trip. Note that hostels in La Paz aren't as cheap as elsewhere in Bolivia, but as soon as you get outside the city, you'll spend far less money.
India has long been a popular destination for budget travelers, and it hasn't lost that distinction even as more and more travelers "discover" it for themselves. The country is large and diverse enough that you can still find bargains if you skip the places that are more overrun by tourists—and even in some of those places the prices remain pretty low. Train travel is extremely cheap, nice accommodations can be had for $30 or less, and you'll eat well for around $10 a day (less if you go with street food).
The main reason most people head for Jordan is to see Petra, and that part isn't cheap—a two-day permit is around $80—but because you'll save so much on traveling through the rest of the country, that splurge is do-able (and totally worth it). Hostels in Jordan can be found for under $10 per night, street food is plentiful and extremely cheap, and many of the other famous attractions in Jordan (besides Petra) are either free to enter or have a nominal $1-2 entry fee.
Europe is typically hard on budget travelers, but if you push eastward you can still find bargains. Albania has a long coastline on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, gorgeous and historic mountain towns, Roman ruins, a surprisingly good bus network to help you get around on the cheap, and inexpensive options for both accommodation and food. You can find hotels, for instance, at under $20 per night, and sumptuous meals for less than $10. The country may not have attractions that your friends and family will have heard of, but the scenery rivals any in nearby Greece or Italy—without the high prices or crowds.
Another South American country that's still cheap (although perhaps not for long) is Colombia, which has all the budget benefits of Bolivia with the added bonus of lots of beaches. The stretch of the coast along the Caribbean Sea is home to colorful towns, a beautiful national park, and all kinds of excuses to just kick back and relax. Even in the relatively popular town of Cartagena, prices are low—and if you stay overnight in Tayrona National Park you can opt for a hammock for just $5 a night.
You've likely heard budget travelers sing the praises of Southeast Asia countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos—but Malaysia often gets forgotten, which is too bad, as it's an equally great spot for cheap travel. Private accommodation is inexpensive (private rooms can cost you $20 per night), although in Kuala Lumpur it'll cost a bit more, and getting around cheaply is aided by the fact that discount airline Air Asia flies throughout the country and region for significantly less than you might think. The real perk in Malaysia is the abundance of cheap and mind-blowingly good food.
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