OK, maybe Paris and the British Virgin Islands are off your travel list for financial reasons, but there are plenty more spots to add to your travel wish list that won’t break the bank. We’re rounding up 10 off-the-beaten track spots that offer all the fun of the usual more expensive spots, at a fraction of the cost.
We spoke with Julia Dimon, aka the “Travel Junkie.” Dimon is host of National Geographic Adventure’s Word Travels and MSNBC’s Destination Getaway. She shares 10 vacation spots that can help save you some cash.
Dimon recently returned from Bali and found it very affordable, especially for travelers interested in spa and wellness. “It costs a chunk to get there, but then the cost of living is very low,” she says. “If you’re into massages, facials, etc., this is a great spot, because treatments are so affordable and quality is so high in terms of therapists.” Case in point: While visiting Dimon had a two-and-a-half-hour Ayurvedic massage for just $45.
One up-and-coming destination (it was on the New York Times list of where to go in 2013) that also happens to be affordable is Nicaragua. “It is incredibly diverse and pretty easy to navigate,” notes Dimon. “It’s a great place for eco-adventures like Costa Rica, but it’s also home to sand-boarding, which is like sledding or snowboarding on sand.”
One of Dimon’s favorite destinations, Turkey is both incredibly diverse and affordable across the board, from food to attractions to activities, of which it has many. “Istanbul has a hip, fun side, while also having a historic and religious side,” she notes. “The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is incredible and a great place to haggle for deals, and the Mediterranean coast is stunning.” Want to get a view from above? One of Dimon’s favorite places for hot-air balloon rides is Cappadocia, over the unforgettable rock formations there.
Thailand is a very affordable vacation destination, which boasts cheap and delicious street food (never mind takeout, get your Thai food fix here). “Thailand is really high on my list and I encourage first-time or solo travelers to go to Thailand because of its accessibility and affordability,” says Dimon. Basically, it’s exotic but easy for first-time travelers to explore without being intimidated. And along with cheap eats, you can stay for cheap, too — as in $20 to $30 a night, depending on where you are.
If you’re in Southeast Asia already or you’ve already visited Thailand, give Cambodia a try for a pocketbook-friendly trip. “Cambodia is an amazing destination for many of the same reasons as Thailand. It’s beautiful and very affordable,” affirms Dimon. Food, activities and excursions, accommodations and transportation are all fairly cheap (a nice, large room with air conditioning and breakfast included will be $20 to $30). Go to see Angkor Wat, which you won’t regret, says Dimon. “Angkor Wat is incredible and definitely something that should be on more travelers’ radars.”
If you’re looking to save on a sand and surf vacation, think about Honduras, especially if you’re interested in what’s under the water. “Honduras is a great place, particularly for those who want to learn to scuba dive,” notes Dimon. “There are really great scuba diving schools there, and it gives travelers an opportunity to try something new and learn a different skill,” she says.