Finding cheap places to travel in 2017 is easier than ever. Destinations around the world can’t wait for you to visit, and they’re providing great deals to earn your travel dollars. With so many ways to save, you might be surprised by where you can travel for cheap.
But where do you start?
The sheer number of options can be overwhelming. Instead of hitting the beach and letting go of your worries, you might spend hours stressing about which budget travel destination to choose.
Never fear! Club Thrifty is here to help. Listed below are 8 cheap places to travel, some of which may surprise you! But that’s not all. We’ve also provided some great money saving tips to help you plan outings so you can vacation for less! Plus, we’ll mention a few travel rewards credit cards that can help you get to your destination for pennies on the dollar.
So what do you say? Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
8 Surprisingly Cheap Places to Travel
Let’s start off with a place that might shock you! Not only is Greece one of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s also cheap. The Greek economy has had some recent struggles, driving prices down throughout the country. While it’s been tough on the Greeks, the low prices mean you can stretch your travel dollars even further. (Extra saganaki, anyone?)
We last visited Greece in November 2016, and it may be my favorite travel experience ever. After spending a few days in Athens, we departed on this 4-day guided tour of Classical Greece. During the tour, we wound our way through the Pelopennesian Peninsula, came back to the mainland for a visit to the amazing site of Delphi, then topped it off with a visit to the cliff-side monestaries of Meteora. The history is incredible, the views are awe inspiring, and the hospitality is second to none. I can’t recommend a trip to Greece enough!
Hot Tip: While you’re there, you’ll definitely want to spend a few days in Athens. Be sure to check hit the historical sites, visit the major museums, and wander through Athens’ spirited neighborhoods. We stayed in a couple of different hotels and would highly recommend the Hotel 360 Degrees. The property is located right on the lively Monastiraki Square, about 50 yards from the subway station. The rooms are clean and contemporary, plus the continental breakfast is excellent. To top it off, the hotel has amazing rooftop views of the Acropolis – both during the day and at night. Located between the (touristy) Plaka and (local favorite) Pisiri neighborhoods, Monastirkai is within walking distance of all the major sites; so, you’re located right in the heart of the action. Learn more about Hotel 360 Degrees here!
Don’t think you can afford to travel to the Caribbean? Think again. Traveling to Jamaica may be the island experience you crave at a price you can afford.
Jamaica is famous for its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and friendly hospitality. Nothing beats relaxing on the sugary sand, cool drink in hand, under the hot Jamaican sun. Of course, there’s more to do than just the beach. You can ride through the lush green mountains on a zip line or float down the Martha Brae River on a raft. Take the whole family to popular Dunn’s River Falls for a fun day outdoors. Or, if you’re feeling particularly naughty, take a ride through the mountains on the Bob Marley tour! (Leave the kids at the hotel for this one.) Learn more about these tours here.
Hot Tip: We’ve traveled to Jamaica 6 times over the last 3 years, including 3 times with the kids. If you have a family, you definitely want to check out the Holiday Inn All-Inclusive Resort in Montego Bay where KIDS STAY FREE! Yup, that’s all your food, drinks and entertainment wrapped into one low price. We love it there because it’s clean, the beach is awesome, and we never feel nickeled and dimed. Additionally, it never hurts to try Club Mobay, especially on the way in. If the lines are long, you might save hours getting through customs. Get your fast track customs pass here.
Every year, Mexico is on the list of cheapest places to travel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. We’ve been to Mexico several times, and Riviera Maya is the place to go! Playa del Carmen is the area’s crown jewel, with stunningly gorgeous white beaches and crystal clear Caribbean water that is second to none. The short bus ride from Cancun International Airport is easy on the eyes because the journey follows the coastline. Staying in Playa isn’t as crowded or expensive as Cancun, but it’s also not too far away for a quick visit. While you’re there, be sure to check out the magnificent shopping, dining, and nightlife on 10th Avenue. The energy is intoxicating! Playa del Carmen is also just a short ferry ride away from Cozumel, which offers outstanding diving and snorkeling opportunities.
In addition, Zihuatanejo is a small town on the Pacific coast near Ixtapa. It is a little more sedate than the typical tourist center, but still close to Ixtapa if you want activities like shopping, dining and nightlife. In January, average temperatures are in the low to mid 80s, but winter in the U.S. and Canada is also when the snow birds are in Mexico, so prices are higher. If you’re looking for a great deal, choose to visit during off-peak times when the prices are lower.
Hot Tip: One of my favorite things we’ve done in the Yucatan Peninsula is this 3-cenote snorkeling tour. The tour visits 3 cenotes, which are fresh water sinkholes. You’ll see all kinds of fish, including a trip into an underground cenote. (Yep, you get to snorkel inside a cave.) It’s pretty cool, and I’d recommend it to anybody!
Belize ranks fourth on our cheapest places to travel list! This small, sub-tropical country is becoming more and more popular due to its beautiful natural environment, slow pace, and affordability. As an added bonus, English is one of the country’s official languages, making it easy for English-speaking tourists to communicate.
Belize is best enjoyed by people who like the outdoors, beaches, and water. The Caribbean waters are very warm during the summer season, up to 83 degrees Fahrenheit! So, summer is a great time to enjoy some of Belize’s most popular recreational activities like swimming, diving, snorkeling, and fishing.
If you love beautiful seascapes, Belize has well over 300 kilometers of coastline to explore. Off-peak season here is from May to October, with rains beginning in June, so look for the best travel deals during late spring to early fall. Prices during December, January and February can be very high, unless you plan far in advance and get lucky.
Hot Tip: One easy way to make travel cheaper is through the use of credit card rewards. Although the value of points vary from card to card, some cards offer huge signup bonuses when you meet the minimum spending requirements. (That could be worth up to $625 in travel when you book through their travel portal.) Use the banner below to find our favorite travel card offers!
If you’re looking for cheap places to travel, look no further than Cambodia. It is one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful travel destinations, and it offers a plethora of low-cost options for transportation once you get there. Large, air-conditioned buses are available, as are share taxis and rentals. Make sure that you don’t rent a car or motorcycle without insurance. If you want to have time to view the scenery, riding a bus – or even a slow-moving train – is better than driving. Plus, it is safer.
Another way to check out Cambodia is to rent a mountain bike. Biking gives you a great way to see the landscape and really interact with the Cambodian people. The roads are rough, but that just adds to the adventure. Travelers will also find water taxis and in-country flights that are available, even though the country is fairly small.
Although Cambodia is a country with significant poverty, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid it. Of course, there is some crime and corruption, so travelers should be cautious about choosing the locations which they want to visit. Meals are relatively cheap and can be had for about $2.50, depending on where you go. Tourists should definitely visit the capital of Phnom Penh and the and the ancient Bayon Temple located at Angkor Thom. There are also sleepy coastal villages like Kep where you can slow down and just enjoy the water.
Hot Tip: Don’t want to deal with an annual fee or minimum spending requirement? No problem. You can still make travel cheaper using a travel card with no annual fee! If you don’t want to deal with points and conversions, some cards offer straight statement credits for travel purchases. Compare the best travel cards here.
If you are already in Phnom Pehn, try hopping on a bus for $10-20 and cross the border to Saigon, Vietnam. Here, you’ll find a country that is wealthier than Cambodia and more developed. Although Vietnam is definitely one of the cheapest places to travel, you’ll pay a little bit more here for just about everything than in Cambodia. However, like Cambodia, this is a country where you can find low-cost enjoyable food at local markets. You may even find a woman with fresh produce and spices who whips up something right in front of you. Of course, Vietnam also has its share of high-end restaurants and fine dining.
When it comes to Vietnamese activities and attractions, you have a wide array of choices. Doing your research prior to coming can help you save time and money. From an overnight stay on a junk in Halong Bay to taking cooking classes, you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly things to do in Vietnam.
Typically, there are many forms of transportation available for foreign tourists to use. Some of the best options include trains and buses. As on all forms of mass transportation, you’ll want to be careful with your baggage when you’re taking the train or the bus. Thieves tend to roam these units and are looking for unsuspecting targets. In the cities, you should consider using the services of a pedicab driver or taxi. However, please note that the national Tet holiday usually takes place in late January or early February. During the holiday, local people are on the move which could make travel for foreigners difficult. It may be best to avoid Vietnam during this time.
Hot Tip: While Southeast Asia offers a variety of cheap places to travel, getting there can be pretty pricey. While credit card rewards can certainly help, sometimes you just have to cut your costs by finding cheap flights the old fashioned way. Luckily, sites like Airfarewatchdog.com can help you compare a bunch of different flights quickly. Just type your destination below and start browsing.
Thailand is also just a bus ride away from Cambodia. Flights to Bangkok can be expensive, but there are several different airline passes that can help you save big bucks if you plan to fly within Southeast Asia. When traveling through Thailand, using trains is also a good option to get you to your destination. Just be aware that they can be very slow. Traveling the country by bus seems to be the preferred method for most budget-conscious tourists, although you can also catch a cab if you want something a little more private (and more expensive).
If you want to come to Southeast Asia but need your modern amenities, Thailand is your spot as it is the most developed country in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, you’ll find such large movie theaters, large shopping malls, and fine dining restaurants – especially in Bangkok.
Looking for a more authentically Thai experience? Chiang Mai is a good place to slow down and immerse yourself in Thai culture. Here, there is a lower cost of living as well as more access to natural habitats. Accommodations can be booked as cheaply as $15 to $60 per night on VRBO.
The Chiang Mai area is full of places to visit! Some of the activities are touristy – like visiting the Old Moat – while others are more about coming in contact with local culture – like seeing an elephant camp. You may even want to take a visit to the Healing Family Foundation. This foundation teaches disabled children to weave products that can be sold to support themselves. Of course, your trip to Chiang Mai would not be complete without getting at least one massage. One massage may last for an hour or more, and they’re typically so affordable that you might as well get two! Regardless, it helps to know your own tastes before you go so you don’t try to cram too much into one trip.
Hot Tip: While near Chiang Mai, book this adventure tour to visit a hilltop tribe! You’ll also get the chance to go ziplining and white water rafting as well. If you’d prefer to stay in the city and visit a few temples, this tour may be more your speed.
When you’re looking for cheap places to travel, don’t forget about Laos! The country has a very lengthy border that can be entered from Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam. It is still relatively undeveloped, so it can be very affordable to travel once you are there. While it is know for being a very relaxed place to visit, Laos is not known for its creature comforts or its cleanliness. Still, it is easily one of the cheapest and most beautiful travel destinations in Asia. Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, and Southern Laos are some of the top places to visit.
Luang Prabang is the former capital city of Laos, and is stocked with scores of Buddhist temples and markets to visit. The total population is only about 25,000 people, so it certainly isn’t a metropolis. A meal of sticky rice and coconut can be purchased for about one US dollar – which is totally affordable in my book! With its natural beauty and peaceful river, Vang Vieng has become a destination for backpackers from around the globe. It is also very affordable.
Vientane is the current capital of Laos and has a population of well over 700,000. Like Luang Prabang there are many Buddhist temples here, including Buddha Park. In a city this size, you will certainly find many excellent restaurants. However, dining at Makphet Restaurant is an unforgettable experience all its own. The restaurant has a program for street kids, training them as chefs and waiters serving traditional Laotian cuisine. Plus, as one of the top-rated restaurants in Vientane, the food is sublime.
Make It Cheaper: Use a cash back card to help make your travel dreams come true! Some cards even offer double cash back your first year! Compare the best cash back cards here.
6 More Ways to Make Travel Cheaper
Visiting cheap destinations isn’t the only way to save on travel. Even if you use all of the top travel cards, there are still ways to make your trip cheaper. Use these 6 simple tips to help make your money stretch even further!
One of the biggest keys to saving money on travel is being flexible with when you can go. If you want to save the most money, it pays to travel during off-peak travel times. Not only will you find cheaper flights and hotels, many attractions slash their prices too. When it comes to Caribbean destinations, the best deals generally fall between May and November.
In addition to traveling during slower seasons, you should also consider flying mid-week. Generally speaking, it is more expensive to fly on and around weekends and holidays. Demand for tix is usually less on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so search for flights then, if possible.
Rent a Condo
One of the biggest costs of traveling is lodging. Even when visiting cheap places to travel, you can save big bucks by renting a condo or vacation rental. These places are often larger, which means you can split the cost of your lodging with family or friends. Plus, condos and vacation rentals usually come equipped with a functional kitchen. That means you can save money by eating in for some of your meals.
As mentioned previously, websites like VRBO are a great place for travelers and rental owners to hook up. There, you’ll find affordable properties to rent located all around the world. You can compare prices, read reviews, and book your stay. We’ve used it on several occasions and love it. Learn more about VRBO here!
Interested in meeting new people and saving big money on your travels? Don’t mind sleeping in somebody else’s place? Couch surfing may be for you. New technologies have made it possible for travelers and locals to meet and connect. Travelers get to meet new people, crash at a free place to stay, and get tips on what to see from locals. Hosts meet people from all over the world plus get a chance to show off their house and city to tourists. It’s great for everybody. If you’re game, check out a website like CouchSurfing.
Create a Vacation Budget
Cheap places to travel can still be expensive if you don’t watch your spending. One way to avoid spending more than you intend is to create a travel budget before you go. Just as you’d do with your monthly budget, create a plan for how much you’ll spend for things like food, drinks, and souvenirs. Even better, stash some money in a travel savings account. Then, keep an eye on your spending during your stay and don’t forget to write it down.
Remember, a budget doesn’t restrict you. It’s a way to help stretch your money further. By creating a plan, you can save on the things you don’t really want so you can spend on the things you do.
Shop Like a Local
Travelers have money to spend and the areas around where tourists stay generally reflect that reality. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for food, clothing, or souvenirs – prices in tourist areas are almost always higher, sometimes remarkably so. To save money, try to shop where the locals shop whenever possible. You’ll find cheaper prices and – sometimes – more unique goods. Also, don’t forget that many areas expect you to bargain. Don’t just pay the sticker price. Make an offer and walk away if you don’t feel the item is worth it.
Take Advantage of City Passes and Deals
One of the best ways to save money on travel is to take advantage of city passes and deals. Many travel destinations have welcome centers that offer free coupons and deals for local restaurants and attractions. Just using these can save you hundreds on activities and food while you’re there. Also, be sure to check online for any deals or coupons before you go.
Even when visiting more expensive locations, you can still save money in many larger cities with “city passes.” With cards like the London Pass, you’ll save on the price of admission to popular attractions. Even more importantly, features like “Fast Track Entry” help you to skip lines and save time. Most large cities, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, have a pass. Make sure you check their benefits before you go!
Free Travel Advice
Want more info about traveling on points? Get your FREE personalized travel rewards plan by clicking the link below. We’ll help you plan the trip of your dreams, and save you some big money doing it! Thanks for reading and happy travels!