With flight prices soaring and the costs of pretty much everything travel-related rising as everyone is itching to travel post-lockdowns, finding destinations you can visit on a budget has never been more important. While it’s always possible to travel just about anywhere for cheap if you’re careful and plan ahead, these budget destinations provide an amazing experience for budget travelers and are super easy to explore without spending much money.
Want to squeeze in a last-minute summer trip or just need somewhere to go later this year so you have something to look forward to? Try on one of these 8 budget destinations for size. (For ease, we’ve included on this list only destinations that are currently open for US travelers, without quarantine requirements.)
If you’re coming from the US, Mexico is an easy getaway—and a great budget destination as well, if you know where to go. Of course, a five-star, all-inclusive resort in Cancun will come at a pretty expensive rate, but there’s lots of options for backpackers and college students too. While you can explore Cancun or Tulum on a budget, for a truly budget destination, it pays to get off the beaten path a bit more. Head to Playa del Carmen, Oaxaca City or Mexico City for cheap accommodation, loads of sights and cheap things to do.
On average, travelers say they spent around $20-$50 a day (including lodging) in these cities.The average meal costs around $7-$10 USD.
Flights to Mexico City (MEX) from $284* roundtrip
Georgia (the country, not the state!)
Georgia is a little-known country in Eastern Europe, home to the Caucasus Mountains, small villages and charming towns. Anyone who wants to get off-the-beaten-path in Europe and explore the outdoors and enchanting villages needs to add Georgia to their bucket list. It’s also extremely easy to explore on a student budget. All the charms of Europe, minus the crowds and the cost—what more could you ask for?
On average, travelers say they spent around $20-$50 a day (including lodging) when traveling around Georgia. The average meal in Georgia costs around 7.50-10 GEL ($2.50-$3.25).
Flights to Georgia (TBS) from $677* roundtrip
Looking for an adventurous destination that doesn’t require leaving the US? Well, you’ve got plenty of options for summer adventures in the US. One of our favorite budget destinations for year-round adventures is Boulder, Colorado! Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and the famous Flatirons, there’s tons of natural scenery, hiking, mountain biking options, skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and more. It also has an energetic downtown, which means you can have both a city getaway and a chance to escape into nature, all in one trip. Luckily, there’s lots of free things to see and do downtown (start with Pearl Street!). Plus, hiking, biking or otherwise exploring the outdoors is nearly always free.
On average, travelers say they spent around $70-$150 a day (including lodging) when traveling around Boulder. The average meal in Boulder costs around $12-$15.
Flights to Boulder (fly into Denver, DEN) from $138* roundtrip
Honduras might not be on your radar (yet), as it often gets overshadowed by its nearby neighbors Belize and Costa Rica. However, it’s definitely worth a visit! Considering how easy it is to explore on a budget, you might just want to bump it up to the top of your list. With coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, plus tropical rainforests, scuba diving, and loads of adventure, this small country packs in a lot!
On average, travelers say they spent around $20-$60 a day (including lodging) when traveling around Honduras. The average meal costs around $5-10 USD.
Flights to Honduras (SAP) from $287* roundtrip
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most underrated spots in the Balkans. (The Balkans are the group of countries in Eastern Europe near Croatia and Greece bordering the Adriatic Sea.) It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the Balkans, yet it’s much less visited and far less touristy than other destinations. If you want to experience some authentic European culture and history at a fraction of the price you’ll find in Western Europe, Bosnia is one of our favorite budget destinations. From charming medieval villages to stunning waterfalls, rivers and gardens, there’s plenty to do and see.
On average, travelers say they spent around $26-$65 a day (including lodging) when traveling around Bosnia. The average meal costs around $4-15 USD.
Flights to Bosnia (SJJ) from $636* roundtrip
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Though San Juan isn’t quite as cheap as many of the other places on this list, flights to San Juan are cheaper this year than they have been in the past! Cheap flights to San Juan make it easier than ever to plan a budget vacay to the Caribbean. Besides, if you really need a budget destination, San Juan has plenty of free activities: namely, the perfect beaches. There’s also historic forts, cathedrals and plazas to explore as well if you don’t want to spend the whole time lounging on the beach.
On average, travelers say they spent around $70-$150 a day (including lodging) in San Juan. The average meal is around $10-15.
Flights to San Juan (SJU) from $233* roundtrip
It’s no secret that Miami is a great budget destination for students or anyone. Although you can certainly find luxury in Miami if you want, it’s easy to explore on a smaller budget, too! There’s a variety of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to backpacker-budget hotels and hostels. And of course, the main attractions (namely, the beaches) are free! There’s also plenty to explore downtown for free or cheap as well.
On average, travelers say they spent around $70-$140 a day in Miami (including lodging). The average meal is around $10-$13.
Flights to Miami (MIA) from $75* roundtrip
Turkey is an incredible country that straddles Europe and Asia, offering a really unique blend of cultures, foods and history. If you’re looking to experience something different that will be unlike anywhere else you’ve visited before, Turkey is a great choice. Even better: it’s extremely easy to explore on a budget. Although Istanbul is (of course) a bit more expensive than other destinations in Turkey, you’ll find plenty of free things to do and explore. Accommodations also tend to be very affordable across the country.
On average, travelers say they spent around $18-$50 a day (including lodging) in Turkey. The average cost of a meal is around $2-$5.
Flights to Turkey (IST) from $684* roundtrip
So where are you off to next? Get discounts on flights to one of these budget destinations and give yourself a much-needed vacation.