Beaches, ancient sites, jaw-dropping glaciers are all within reach at these budget-friendly destinations.
All travelers are different in terms of how they like to spend their money on a trip. Maybe you want to splurge for an upgraded seat for an awesome air travel experience—or maybe you want to fly low-cost but experience a destination with a private tour guide or dine at one of the world’s best restaurants. Whatever your style of travel, learning how (and where) to maximize your dollars can mean that no place is ever truly off-limits. From brand-new beaches to budget-friendly adventure activities, these six destinations will help you to up your travel game in 2019—without breaking the bank.
Argentina probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of budget travel. But the Argentine peso’s valuation was wildly unpredictable through 2018, falling 52 percent against the U.S. dollar, and it remains low, with US$1 currently worth 38 ARS. While that’s not great news for many of the Argentine people, it’s also exactly why you should travel here now—those who rely on tourism need your dollars. Head to bustling Buenos Aires for hip nightlife, fashion-forward (but budget-friendly) shopping in Recoleta Market, and all the mouth-watering steak you could possibly want.
If you’ve got time to spare, you could also consider taking an overnight bus to the wine region of Mendoza or flying south to El Calafate, where you’ll find the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the few advancing glaciers in the world. Located within Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Perito Moreno is famous for its size (over 97 square miles of ice) and for ice calving. As the glacier advances, large chunks of it break off and plunge into the water below, so keep those cameras at the ready.
Egypt has long been an affordable destination for U.S. travelers, with the cost of most meals coming in at well under $10 and a range of cuisines to choose from. Accommodation runs at or under $100/night, or $200/night with a view of the pyramids, such as the rooms at Marriot Mena House, Cairo.
The Pyramids of Giza are no secret, but get off the beaten path by hiring an Uber or taxi to explore the lesser-known pyramids in Dahshur, 25 miles outside of Cairo, for fewer tourists and lower entrance fees. Here you’ll find the Red Pyramid—considered to be the first successful smooth-sided pyramid built in Egypt—and one of the few pyramids you can walk inside, sans additional charge. Also in Dahshur you’ll see the Bent Pyramid, which gets it name from its unusually shaped walls, and the Black Pyramid (of King Amenemhat III), which is made of mud. Entrance to Dahshur’s historic sites is 60 Egyptian pounds (US$3), versus the 400 Egyptian pounds (US$23) it costs to enter Giza.
Full up on Egyptian history? Head to Hurghada for stunning turquoise water and coral reef snorkeling in the Red Sea. Or take a cruise down the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan. Tip: If you’re flexible on time, get a better deal on your river cruise by visiting different vendors in Luxor in person, rather than booking online.
The value of the CUC to the U.S. dollar is more or less 1 to 1 at the moment, but it’s more affordable than many Caribbean vacations because the cost of goods is lower here. Expect meals to cost between $10-$20 and accommodation at around $50 for a room, which is far less than a visit to a Caribbean island like Aruba, for example, where your cost per accommodation is more likely to be $200+/night. Savings aside, Cuba is a country like no other.
There are also lots of things you can do for free: Wander around the shops in Old Havana, or walk along the malecón (boardwalk) and people-watch by the sea at sunset. You could also cruise around Havana in a classic car for $30/hour, or take an hour-long salsa lesson at La Casa del Son in Old Havana for $10 per person.
The Dominican Republic can be an incredible place to travel to affordably, especially if you’re willing to get off the beaten path. Get out of resort towns like Punta Cana and head instead to the adventure-filled region of Jarabacoa, where you’ll find activities like white-water rafting, paragliding, and trekking to get your blood pumping. Jarabacoa is located in the mountains near the Dominican Alps and its high altitude and low temps (80s in the day, 60s at night, year-round) makes it a great destination in the summer. For best rates on hotels and properties, however, visit during the winter months.
Still craving some beach time? Instead of the popular city of Puerto Plata on the northern coast, try nearby Punta Rucia, where you’ll find gorgeous sandbars and hotels on the beach for half the price, with a third of the people.
There are few places in the world where you can travel as affordably as you can in India—and you don’t have to sacrifice quality, either. Sure, you can stay in bare-bones hostels and eat street samosas for as little as $5 a day, but increase your budget to the $50-$100/day range and you’ll have access to boutique hotels like Madri Haveli—a former home of royalty turned boutique hotel in Udaipur—that would cost you 10 times as much if it were in Europe. In Agra, the Taj Mahal is currently free of scaffolding after a project on its minarets that took several years to complete. But hurry! More renovation work begins again in April of 2019, this time to the Taj Mahal’s main dome.
Looking for paradise on a shoestring? Head directly to the Philippines, where an archipelago of over 7,000 islands awaits. There is no shortage of white sand beaches in the Philippines, but one very famous island in particular has been reopened after a recent closure. The island of Boracay began welcoming visitors back recently after being temporarily closed in 2018. During its downtime the island was cleaned and revamped, and strict regulations were put in place to protect the environment.
Not a beach person? Head north of Manila to Sagada, a small mountain town made famous by the wooden coffins that hang from its limestone cliffs. Traveling through the Philippines can be very affordable; in many places you can get by on $50 a day, including accommodation.
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