Looking for the best flashpacker destinations to travel on a budget in 2020? There are so many incredible places to visit and seeing them doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.
By picking the right destination within your budget, you’ll be able to do more while you’re there, stay longer without feeling stressed, and have a more enriching experience overall.
Here are the best places to travel on a budget in 2020:
Thailand and Vietnam
What to Expect
If you’re looking to visit Southeast Asia, Thailand and Vietnam should be top of the list. These countries have incredible sights and you can practically live like a king on your budget. You can “splurge” and get gourmet meals for only a few dollars and most tourist attractions are free or really inexpensive.
Both these locations have beaches, delicious local cuisine, bustling city centers, and backgrounds rich in spirituality. You can experience the sharp, blue waters surrounded by moss-covered rocks in Halong Bay and then immerse yourself in the city scene in Hanoi. In Thailand, there’s diving, hiking, delicious food in every city, and a happening nightlife scene for every type of traveler.
Food and drink: Food is incredibly cheap. Street food can cost as little as $1 for delicious, locally-cooked cuisine. Alcohol is only a few dollars and water less than 50 cents.
Accommodation: $10/day for basic hotels/hostels. You can easily go up to $30-$50/day and experience luxury, boutique hotels. Try to avoid chain hotels, as these can be overpriced for what you get, and you’ll want to take advantage of the independent local resorts that are available at an affordable price.
Transportation: Airfare from major cities can be costly (around $1,000), but you make up for the affordability once there. Once there, transport is quite cheap. Mini-vans and taxis can cost only a few dollars and busses and trains cost around $10-$20.
You’ll want to avoid tuk-tuk drivers who offer to drive you around for the day. This is an age-old scam to get tourists to pay them individually more than you would on getting various different transports.
Activities: There are free things to do in every city (link budget travel article), and, in general, the more touristy options will cost more. Tours around the islands usually cost $20-$30.
Overall: You can get by on $25-$40/day or $40-$50/day for higher-end travel.
Peru, Honduras, and Guatemala
These countries are great alternatives to the more-traveled Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize, which are expensive destinations by regional standards. Similar to Thailand/Vietnam, budgeting around $30-$50/day is enough to experience it as a flashpacker, and even spending just $10 more can allow you to live a little larger. Your money really does go far in this part of the world.
Here you will find most budget hotels for around $15 per night, meals for $3, most bus journeys for $10-$15, and beer for less than a dollar.
Want to roam ancient ruins, trek through the jungle, surf, and eat delicious food with few tourists around all while saving some coin?
Honduras is known for the beautiful Bay Islands, the most bio-diverse reef system in the world. Peru has must-see ancient ruins and, of course, Machu Picchu, one of the best hiking trails in the Inca Trail. Looking to see some volcanoes and rainforests off-the-beaten-track? Guatemala is the perfect cheap travel destination for you.
Food and Drink: You can easily get delicious meals for under $10. Avoid places that look like tourist traps — you can get high quality, authentic food well within your budget. Alcohol is quite cheap in these places, starting at less than a dollar.
Accommodation: Hostels and hotels can cost as low as $6-10 a night. If you want to spend a little more, a nicer resort would cost between $80-400, and there is a huge range here in what you’ll get.
Transportation: Buses are very cheap and the most common mode of travel. You can also take taxis for quite cheap, generally under $10 to get around the city centers. But be wary of scams and drivers taking longer, alternative routes with tourists who may not know the area.Always ask the fare in advance, since the driver might try and bump your price up once you arrive and you can negotiate the price if you know a ballpark of how much it should cost to your destination. Tipping taxis is not common in these parts of the world.
You can also get chartered local flights between cities for around $50-200, and these generally operate on fixed schedules, a few times a week.
Activities: There are lots of hiking trails to explore but the organized tours tend to be on the pricier side — you’ll likely pay between $30 to $100. Sometimes though it can be worth spending the extra money if you’re going somewhere you wouldn’t want to trek on your own, but be sure to do your research to know what’s going to be included in that package.
Wildlife tours will cost around $30-$100. An hour of snorkeling around $25.
Overall: Lower budget travel: $20-30/day. Mid-to-higher budget: $30-50/day.
Morocco and Turkey
What to Expect
These countries are great budget travel destinations since they are relatively safe and stable options if looking to experience Arabian cultures. While you can travel through here on a higher budget, it’s also very do-able and just as amazing on a lower-scale one.
Is the Sahara Desert on your bucket list? It’s in Morocco and one of the main reasons people choose to travel there. Istanbul, Turkey is a city full of beautiful architecture and bazaars with cheap, delicious food and craftsmen selling their goods.
Food and drink: $10-$15/day. You can easily find meals for just a few dollars at local markets.
Transport: $5-$10. Public transport is good in both countries but depending on where you’re going, the trips can be quite long. Taxis are relatively cheap, generally a few dollars within the main city.
Flights to and from will be between $100-$600, again, depending on where you’re flying from. If you’re coming from Spain you can take a cheap ferry to Morocco for only $35.
Activities: $10-$200. If you’re planning on doing the Saraha, an organized tour is highly recommended, which can cost anywhere from $50-$200. But there are also lots of cheap and free things to do in both Morocco and Turkey. For example, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a must-see and is totally free.
What to Expect
There are so many hidden gems within these countries that we recommend selecting only one or two cities to visit while you’re there to get the most out of it. As well, intercity transport can be quite costly and time-consuming, so you may want to choose to save in this respect.
Beautiful, blue islands, hiking, waterfalls, diving — every dollar spent will be well worth it. Indonesia is comprised of 17,000 islands with 240 million people living there, but its beauty still remains preserved despite its size and number of tourists. There are 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and the breathtaking views will make you never want to leave.
Food and drink: $10-$15/day. Alcohol is usually $5 and less, and cheap restaurants may only cost you a few dollars.
Accommodation: $10-$30/day. Budget hostels can be quite cheap, but as always, if you spend a bit more you can stay in something a bit more luxury for a relatively low cost.
Transport: Local, between $5-$20. But flights within the countries can be costly, depending on when you book.
If booked in advance, flights can cost as cheap as $30 and go up to a few hundred. Also, be wary that the airlines are not always reliable, and there tend to be significant delays.
Activities: $5-$30. There are many free tours you can do, but any day tours or activities like snorkeling will cost around $20-$30.
Spain, Italy, and Greece
What to Expect
Late night meals, friendly people, beautiful beaches, and cultures full of history. These are great places to travel on a budget and experience the richness that Europe and the Mediterranean have to offer.
Want delicious, cheap wine while eating fresh food on a patio with live music and dancing just down the street from you? Spain and Italy, in particular, are known for their late-night eating and drinking, which means there is something to do at any time of the evening, any day of the week. Since the country’s debt crisis a few years back, Greece has become an affordable place for tourists, but the cheap cost of travel isn’t the only reason to visit and stay there.
Food and drink: $10-30/day. There are many cheap food options around, but you may need to avoid the main tourist strips to find them. Breakfasts and lunches can be quite a low cost as well, just a few dollars for street-style food.
Accommodation: $20-$100, on the lower end for a hostel, mid-range for Airbnb, and on the higher end for a nicer hotel room.
Transport: $5-$10 for buses and taxis.
Activities: $10-$90. Some touristy activities, like the Sagrada Familia in Spain, will be more costly, but you can avoid this and do only free or within budget activities and the cost of travel will be much lower.
These are the best, cheap places to travel in 2020. When visiting these countries, you’re not making sacrifices, but instead, experiencing your ideal trip while still remaining within your budget.
If you’re ready to book your next trip, try out Budget Your Trip to estimate, plan and track your travel expenses. Plus, make sure to check out some of our other articles to help you prepare like How to Find Cheap Flights and our Top 10 Budget Travel Tips.