While you have a long standing passion for travel, your budget precludes you from living like a rockstar while on the road. Until you have the funds and life situation that permit you to do that, you have taken up the credo of the backpacker, to seek out the world’s best value destinations.
While there are ways to travel on a shoestring in just about every region in the world, some countries are better suited to this style of vagabonding than others. The following nations combine a variety of rewarding cultural and natural experiences while treating your wallet with the respect that it deserves.
Let’s delve in to the details of the best countries for backpacking below…
Being home to some of the most stunning beaches on Earth, Thailand is a popular tourism destination for people of all backgrounds from around the world. Despite the rapid increase in visits over the years, prices has remained shockingly low in comparison to the rest of the globe’s tropical hotspots, with $15 a night beach bungalows still available in many places.
Meals on the street cost no more than $2 a plate (and it’s some of the world’s best cuisine to boot!), and many activities and excursions can be booked for little more than $30 a day. For those on a strict budget, it often costs nothing to explore Buddhist wats and stroll along the blindingly white sand beaches found throughout the region. If you’re a first-time backpacker, Thailand is a no-brainer debut destination.
While travel in the Indian Subcontinent can be challenging at times, it is another destination within Asia that any budget traveler should visit before they hang up their rucksack for good. With countless religious sites detailing the cultural background of Hinduism, Jainism and Islam, the culture vulture will be kept busy for months on end, while those seeking a natural escape can either bliss out on the beach in Goa, or gasp for air while hiking through the dry desert air in the Himilayan town of Leh.
Like Thailand, the food on the street here is cheap and legendary, and accommodations, while being a bit hit or miss in spots, is so cheap that one can stretch a modest travel budget paper-thin and still have a fulfilling holiday here.
Most consider Europe to be prohibitively expensive, but this maxim generally only applies to places in the northern and western portions of the continent, with prices easing off the further east and south you go.
Albania, a country recovering from the extreme economic deprivation that was common during its time behind the Iron Curtain offers one of the best budget experiences in all of Europe. You can lounge along the shores of the Mediterranean as they were 50 years ago elsewhere, all at a fraction of the cost of its more developed cousins.
You can stroll through sweeping plazas and alongside monuments in Tirana, all without spending a dime. The Albanian Alps also offer many unspoiled places to hike and commune with nature, all without running into fanny-pack tourists as you might in the Swiss Alps for example.
While media tends to hype the risks of traveling in Mexico due to the actions of the drug cartels, violence has calmed substantially in the past few years, are generally confined to select regions of the country, and when it does occur, it almost always only occurs between people involved in the trade.
Bus travel is efficient, comfortable, and often half as cheap for comparable routes in the United States or Canada. Hostel prices are close to half of what you’d pay in the developed world as well, while street tacos infinitely better than anything you’ve ever had at home will cost you more more than $1 per taco (three are often enough to satiate your hunger).
Archaeological sites abound, deserted beaches are plentiful, and the locals are warm, friendly and full of life … all excellent reasons to spend time in this endlessly interesting nation.
While Latin America tends to be slightly more expensive than its main competitor Southeast Asia, there are places within the region that fall within the latter’s price points. One such country is Nicaragua, where hostels and guesthouses routinely cost less than $10 a night, alcohol is dirt cheap, and the beaches are secluded, blissful and pristine.
Experience the colonial charm of Leon and Granada, or hop on a puddle jumper and spend a few weeks (or a few months) in the Corn Islands … the choice is yours, and both are at a price that won’t leave your wallet crying out in pain!
*Image of mountain lakes in Albanian Alps via Shutterstock
*Image of Varanasi on river Ganges, India via Shutterstock