These days, many travellers are shying away from spending money on elaborate trips. But travel doesn’t have to be a luxury only the rich can afford — many destinations around the world offer incredibly good value. For the traveller who’s big on adventure but short on cash, here are my top picks for countries that will give you more bang for your buck.
The poorest but arguably one of the most beautiful countries in Latin America, Nicaragua boasts active volcanoes, pristine crater lakes, fair trade coffee farms and some of the best surfing in the region. The cost of living is very reasonable with chilled Tonia beers for the equivalent of $1 each and tasty traditional meals (fried rice and red beans, deep fried cheese, corn tortillas and fresh salad) for about $5.
Bigfoot Hostel, www.bigfootnicaragua.com, a chill backpacker hangout in the quaint colonial town of León, offers private rooms. Its easy-going vibe, free wireless Internet, indoor swimming pool and hordes of Swedish students make Bigfoot an attractive spot.
With great value and a strong tourist infrastructure, the country is huge in the backpacker scene and is quickly becoming the “new Costa Rica.”
Europe is typically very hard on the budget, but if you must go, Croatia is one of your best choices. It will not only wow you with its charming towns and Adriatic coastal beauty, it’ll please your wallet.
The big save is on accommodations. When I was exploring the island of Hvar, I stayed in a pension (complete with private room, bathroom, full board and garden patio) for about $50 a night. The Croatia National Tourism board’s website, www.htz.hr, offers a list of small, family-run accommodations all over the country, from romantic Dubrovnik to the baroque-rich capital Zagreb.
From La Paz, travel by bus to the Incan hotspot of Copacabana, a tourist gateway between the inspirational shores of Lake Titicaca and Peru’s Cuzco. With inexpensive eats and affordable souvenirs, Copacabana has great deals for the budget traveller.
Stay at the Hotel Rosario del Lago, the nicest accommodations in the city with beautiful views of the lake, for prices as low as $50 a night; www.hotelrosario.com.
With the money you’ve saved, you’ll be able to afford an adrenaline-soaked bicycle adventure down the “world’s most dangerous road.” For the equivalent of $100, Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking offers day trips speeding downhill along twisted roads; www.gravitybolivia.com.
– Julia Dimon is co-host of Word Travels, airing on OLN; www.juliadimon.com.