Where To Take Your First Budget Trip?

I get asked this kind of question a lot, and recently someone posted on one of the facebook groups I manage.

"I have X amount of money and want to take a budget trip, where should I go?"

Well of course it depends on a lot of factors like where you are currently living, your budget and what you enjoy doing when you travel but in my opinion and I'm sure many people will agree with me, the best area of this world to take your first ever budget trip has got to be Southeast Asia!

Where to start...

This place is so packed with culture, things to do, things to see, beautiful nature, beaches, great parties, unique food and wonderful people! So no matter what you enjoy, you can find pretty much everything in Southeast Asia.

Cebu Island Beach, the Philippines Cebu Island, Philippines

Morning Alms in Phuket, Thailand. Morning Alms in Thailand

Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

I actually travelled for almost two whole years non-stop in SE Asia and China and then still went back a few years after that trip for more! It's also the place I learned how to travel the way I do, as well as a lot of people I know.

But it's not just an absolutely wonderful place, it's also incredibly cheap, safe and easy to travel there. Which is why it is perfect for budget travel! In most countries you can find a decent meal in a restaurant or street stall for around €1, partying and alcohol is also pretty cheap, especially if you don't mind drinking liquor like whiskey or rum from the supermarket (definitely check out bucket cocktails in Thailand, Laos & Cambodia!). The continent is packed full of hostels and a bed usually costs you around €2-5 per night, but it's also very easy to couchsurf, not to mention the couchsurfing communities are great in SE Asia.

Mountains in Vang Vieng, Laos The view from my €1 hostel room in Laos

Thailand Bucket Cocktail Thai Bucket Cocktail

The only problem you might have with Southeast Asia is the price of the flights. However you can usually find cheap flights from Europe or North America into Malaysia for around €300 (or €500 return), especially during the rainy season. If you don't like the rain, fly in just before the peak season officially starts when the rain has already passed. You should also remember that most tourist activities such as island trips, elephant riding and of course hotels/hostels are MUCH cheaper during the off-peak months (an MUCH more expensive around Christmas/New years). The beaches are a hell of a lot less crowded also.

Another great area of the world, and my second favourite place for budget travel is the Balkans (Southeast Europe). Transportation and accommodation are a bit expensive but if you stick to couchsurfing and hitchhiking food and night life are extremely cheap, in many areas a meal will cost around €2-4, or you can buy high quality meat for around €3-4 per kilo to eat at your hostel or hosts house. And for beer lovers you will have a hard time leaving this place! A 2L bottle of good Balkan beer costs around €1 in a supermarket, the bars are also pretty reasonable too!  There is also a lot to see and do, a lot of beautiful nature (check out Kotor in Montenegro, one of the most beautiful towns I've ever seen) and many small countries all within easy reach of each other. If you like to party make sure you check out Vama Veche and other places along the Black Sea coast of Romania and Bulgaria for some really great, cheap nightlife!

Old town in Mostar, Bosnia Old Town in Mostar, Bosnia

Mountains in Tivat, Montenegro Mountains of Montenegro

There is also Turkey, one of the most unique and beautiful countries in the world with amazing natural wonders like Pamukkale and Cappadocia. If you are not an alcoholic like I sometimes am you can travel around Turkey VERY cheaply! It's one of the easiest countries to hitchhike and couchsurf in the world and food is also incredibly cheap. Those are all your basic travel costs covered right? Last year when I was living in Izmir I would always head down to the local market every Saturday; a weeks supply of fruit and vegetables for two people (around 30kg) never cost us more than €10!

Of course if you really commit to travelling on a low budget you can do so in any part of the world. My first ever budget trip was actually around Japan, volunteering at different places in exchange for my basic living costs I managed to see most of the country while spending just €80 per month! Check out my guide on how to volunteer while travelling if this is something you might be interested in. And also the guide on how to travel cheap.

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Posted in Amazing Places, Tips & Advice
7 comments on “Where To Take Your First Budget Trip?
  1. Eri says:

    Daniel only because of your stories my aim is to go and visit Tailand !! After that I would gladly go and visit all the others, but first tailand!!

    • Dan Norris says:

      I totally agree, Thailand is maybe the easiest and cheapest country to travel in the world so it’s perfect for your first big trip. Then you can try more challenging places like India and Brazil 🙂

  2. Linda says:

    Couldn’t agree more! I took my first trip in Thailand last year and it was wonderful! It’s so hard to decide if I should go back again or see new places 🙁

    • Dan Norris says:

      I’m glad you also enjoyed Thailand. I also absolutely love this country but I think if you have the chance you should always try somewhere new. Seeing new things and new places is what travelling is all about 🙂

  3. Chris Smith says:

    Every region has some famous attractions to visit and there are a lot of places to visit in this world such as France, Ireland, Switzerland, Philippines, Thailand and many more. Having a budget vacation is necessary to enjoy the trip and plan for the next trip. Moreover by saving money on your vacation with some little efforts one can actually enjoy more and can even extend the trip time. One of the essential things is to choose the right destination for your vacation. Another thing that can be done is to gather some knowledge about the places and know the culture, traditions and language a little, so that you can save money on shopping and can communicate with the people easily. I like to travel and explore different places. I had been to Thailand, France and Ireland, but my budget vacation was in Ireland. After that trip to Ireland I have started planning for the vacation trips and now, I do an early planning to save money on my trips wherever I go. On my trip to Ireland last year, I thought of going in the offseason and I have booked for the airfare in advance as there was some discount offer going on a round travel trip. I thought of discovering the places in Ireland by car, but I do not have a car there, so I thought of renting a car, so that I can enjoy the long drive on the roads and the countryside area. Wherever you are going renting a car before the arrival can save a lot as at the last moment if you are renting a car.

  4. Yoshira says:

    These are all good places. It’s hard to choose.

  5. Fabiana says:

    I woud also add Central America. It can be pretty cheap to travel there. Plus they have some cool places to visit. I really ejoyed it. but I don’t kno ho it compares to South East Asia. I have never been to that part of the world.

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