travel // 2011's best budget friendly destinations

Monday, June 6, 2011

With summer right around the corner, who isn't dreaming of going on vacation? Whether it's to a foreign country or a camping trip an hour or two from your house, getting away is always a fun time. But if you are like me, getting away can be like a looming black cloud, taunting you with dollar sign rain, mocking that fact that I'm too broke to take lavish vacations. 

Have no fear - I did a little research and discovered the top 5 value destinations for vacations. Most require airfare, which can definitely bring the price up, but if you save for your plane tickets and can save when you are vacationing, it's totally worth it. 

Travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Your currency may be depressed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be; there are still many destinations around the world that can be enjoyed on the cheap. If you let the global economic ups-and-downs work to your advantage, adopt some personal austerity measures in pricier destinations, and head towards up-and-coming destinations, you can stay on the road longer for less.

Fresh from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2011, I bring you this bargainous bounty of 5 budget-friendly destinations where you can get the most bang for your buck.

This subcontinental treat might just be the cheapest place on earth to travel. Bangladesh offers marvellous meals for under US$1, a mid-range hotel room for less than 10 times that. This means that anyone who isn’t a masochist goes up a price bracket or two. You’ll pay a little more to get around the Sunderbans National Park on a tiger-spotting tour – US$150 or thereabouts – but it’s still peanuts, even compared to what you pay next door in India.

Bangladesh is almost disgracefully under-visited. Here, paddleboat is one of the main forms of transport and you can trek, canoe and even surf to your heart’s content with some of the world’s friendliest people for company. The Rocket is Bangladesh’s most famous ferry, running daily between the capital Dhaka and Khulna. First-class river cruising for 27 hours will cost US$15.

As other Central American destinations inflate prices with an influx of travellers, there are still a few good value delights to be found in the region. Nicaragua is somewhere where the careful traveller can get by spending US$15 a day, and midrange comforts can be had for less than double that amount. What you get for your money is nothing short of spectacular: hammock-hanging opportunities on the mythically unspoilt Corn Islands, bar-hopping and live music in colonial León and Granada, and volcano trekking on the Isla de Ometepe. Paying departure tax when flying out of Nicaragua may be the single most expensive thing you do at US$32, and this is usually already included in the price of your ticket.

Lincoln Memorial: free. National Air and Space Museum: free. Capitol: free. Library of Congress: free. White House and State Department: tough to get in, but free. Get the picture? Washington is a city packed with iconic things to do and very few of them ask for an entry fee. If you’re happy to walk and bring your own lunch bag, you can absorb centuries of American history, politics and culture without having to so much as touch a dollar bill all day. DC’s Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is the only national park in the USA devoted to water plants. It’s free.

The French capital is never going to win any awards for cheapness, but here’s a winning formula that anyone can afford. First, you need a Swiss Army knife. Then stroll into a boulangerie – every neighbourhood has several – and buy a freshly baked baguette for €1 (US$1.35) or thereabouts. Follow your nose to your next stop, a fromagerie, and grab a fist-sized hunk of cheese. Lastly, grab a bottle of wine, nothing fancy, and head for the banks of the Seine opposite Notre Dame or the garden adjacent to Pont Neuf on a sunny day, preferably with a friend or loved one. Zut alors – a Parisian dining experience for under €10 (US$13.50) per person that any local would declare formidable! You’ll find everything for a picnic on Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement.

Botswana wants big spenders only and South Africa’s not the deal it once was, so southern Africa bargain hunters should head for Namibia. Well set-up for backpackers, this is still a territory of US$50 or less a day if you’re careful, with an excellent network of local minibuses and tours aimed at budget travellers to go to places public transport won’t. And if you go up a price bracket you’ll eat and sleep well in excellent-value midrange options that bring South Africans flocking over the border year after year. Admission to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve on the Skeleton Coast costs a mere US$3 per person.

So cheers to happy traveling and saving some dough whenever possible! I can't wait to explore some places inside and out of my lovely city (San Diego) this summer and hopefully make my way to one of these destinations!


jillian :: cornflake dreams. said...

love this post! im dying to go to india... and back to paris :) xo jillian:: enter to win a $100 shopping spree!

hippie_mom said...

I am in dire need of a vacation finally getting away this month. Great post! following you from linkup. I would love for you to "like" my video entry

Ann said...

traveling without braking the bank sounds marvelous! i went to washington dc last summer and had a blast, althoughi wish i didn't have to take a taxi to and from the airport. my wallet did not appreciate that, ha.

kelcy ☼ said...

I love this :) Thanks for sharing Kelsey!


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