Research suggests you’ll be happier if you buy experiences, not things.
But some experiences cost a lot more than others – like travel.
Travel is one of the most attractive ways to spend your hard-earned cash or miles on an entire experience. It’s exciting and enriching. It’s also a really easy way to spend more than you planned.
But don’t worry! If you’re serious about seeing the world and diving into other cultures, there are plenty of ways to travel cheaply without missing any of the fun.
4 Exciting, Cheap Places to Travel
To take an affordable vacation, deciding where you’re going is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Some destinations are a lot pricier than others. By examining current exchange rates and average meal and lodging prices, we’ve found some of the most attractive, cheapest places to travel in 2017.
Here are four exciting, exotic, and—best of all—affordable vacation destinations for your next trip.
1. MONTREAL, CANADA ($1 USD = $1.37 CAD)
Want to feel like you’ve arrived at a European destination without the exhausting (and expensive) transoceanic flight? Pay a visit to our French-Canadian neighbors in the north.
Featured on Price of Travel’s 2017 Backpacker Index, Montreal boasts fantastic food and a thriving art scene. And don’t despair if your high school French classes fail you. Quebec — and its unique dialect, Quebecois — are a whole different animal.
Where to stay: You could pay a pretty penny to stay at the Hotel St. Paul… or simply walk through it and then spend $15-$50 USD per night at one of Montreal’s best hostels.
Average cost of dinner for two: A mid-range restaurant meal will run you $30 CAD a head, or about $21.87 USD. But for the authentic Montreal experience, order its infamous—and much more affordable—poutine, bagels and deli goods.
Don’t miss: A smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s, followed by a hike to the top of the city’s namesake mountain.
2. LONDON, ENGLAND ($1 USD = £0.80 GBP)
Although the exchange rate isn’t quite in Americans’ favor, the British pound is still at a 31-year low. This plus a drop in average airfares makes 2017 one of the most affordable years to visit London. So if Big Ben’s on your bucket list, get going.
Where to stay: Although hotel prices are on the rise across the UK, a two-star London hotel will reportedly run you just £72 (about $93 USD) per night on average. Great Britain also has many more affordable hostels than most American cities, with prices starting as low as $20 USD per night.
Average cost of dinner for two: A sit-down meal will run you about $70 USD, but you can find tons of delicious-looking bites for under £10.00 (about $13 USD).
Don’t miss: Unlike in the U.S., most of London’s famous museums are free to the public—and there are enough of them to fill up even a lengthy vacation!
3. PERU ($1 USD = 3.25 Peruvian Sol)
With a fantastic exchange rate and a host of exciting things to see, eat and do, Peru is the perfect destination to travel cheaply—and it’s still in the Central/Eastern time zones!
Where to stay: A mid-range hotel with a double bed will run you approximately 140 sol (about $43 USD) per night, or you can find a dorm bed in a hostel at crazy-low prices (as low as $8 USD).
Average cost of dinner for two: $18.48 in USD for a sit-down, three-course meal in the capitol.
Don’t miss: Machu Picchu, of course. The Peruvian government has recently started limiting the amount of tourists it allows to visit these ancient ruins, so visit sooner rather than later if seeing them is important to you.
4. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA (USD)
If you’re looking for a domestic destination filled with music, art and open-heartedness, you can’t get much better than the Big Easy. And depending on where you’re starting, you might not even have to fly.
Where to stay: You can find digs for everything budget. There are Holiday Inns and ritzy hotels like The Roosevelt, or you can get a more unique experience by hitting up a local to stay in an Airbnb. You’ll likely spend less but talk, learn and laugh way more.
Average cost of dinner for two: You could spend about $58 USD for a mid-range meal for two… but you can find amazing, cheap Creole if you know where to look. And Cafe du Monde’s famous beignets (a must) are just a few dollars.
Don’t miss: You’re saving enough to splurge. Sip a Sazerac where it was created—at the bar of the same name—or try a Vieux Carre at the famous, spinning Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.
Ready for Adventure?
Travel is one of the only things you can buy that leaves you richer, and it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.
While choosing an affordable destination is key, there are plenty of other ways to save money while you’re on the road. For instance, you can plan to prepare many of your meals yourself or start collecting frequent flyer miles by using a rewards credit card.
And no matter where you’re headed, you’ll find that many of travel’s greatest pleasures—like a conversation with a new friend or the sight of a beautiful sunset— are 100 percent free of charge.