7 Budget-Friendly (and Fantastic) Countries You Need to Visit

Taking advantage of favorable currency exchange rates can mean cheaper travel for all.
Last updated Oct 1, 2020 | By Matt Miczulski
7 Budget-Friendly (and Fantastic) Countries

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Not every budget has room for a grand tour of the most popular foreign destinations; yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t discover a new and unexpected locale that doesn’t require breaking the bank. As you look for fresh ideas of places to go, you may want to consider traveling to a country that will not only knock your socks off but also stretch your buck a little further.

Sure, vacationing with your budget in mind — especially a strict budget — tends to take a little more planning. You might spend more time on the lookout for the best deal. Or you’re super organized about using the ideal credit card for foreign travel. But what’s the trade-off for your efforts? Getting your travel fix for less, of course. And when you travel to a country where the exchange rates are favorable to the U.S. dollar, you can save even more.

So, before the greenback loses value, here are seven countries to visit where the dollar goes far.

But first: Our definition of “budget travel”

The idea of “budget travel” may not mean the same thing to everyone. To give you an idea of why some countries made the cut and others didn’t, we’ll give you a peek into our methodology.

The countries we included as “a place where the U.S. dollar goes far” provided a generous mix of affordability, natural beauty, and plenty of activities. With the focus being on the country itself, airfare wasn’t used as a determining factor. However, if inexpensive airfare stood out as a highlight for a particular destination, then it was included. And of course, this list isn’t exhaustive but rather an attempt to provide fresh ideas of places to go.

All exchange rates provided were current at the time of writing (August 2019). Additionally, we used peak-season prices for lodging to showcase each country’s affordability. To save even more, consider traveling during off-season months.

Argentina

Glaciers, waterfalls, wine, and legendary steak: What else could you want? Argentina has become an increasingly affordable destination for travelers over the last couple years, but it’s not only the bargain luxuries like wine and grass-fed beef that are bringing in travelers from afar (okay, maybe sometimes it is). On top of those indulgences, Argentina has a diverse culture, an electrifying capital city, and a breathtaking landscape that’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Argentina isn’t known for being one of the cheapest countries to travel to, but its currency’s decline means travelers to this South American country will likely get a great deal. Hotels that would have cost $150 per night two years ago now go for half that. Even during peak season, an Airbnb Plus in Buenos Aires should be available for around $50 per night. Yes, the savings include food, too. Dinner for two of rib-eye steaks and Malbec wine should only set you back about $25.

*Exchange rate: 54.84 Argentine Pesos to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Croatia

Fans of the show “Game of Thrones” may not need another reason to visit this coastal European country, but there are indeed plenty more reasons. Between its coastal havens and historic city centers, Croatia is a must-see for any traveler.

Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, is home to a fascinating mixture of architecture, quirky museums, vibrant food markets, and an exploding restaurant scene. Between April and October, you’ll find plenty of busy cafes and festivals galore. For lodging, you shouldn’t have any issue finding an Airbnb in peak summer months for about $35 per night. Otherwise, a nice, comfortable hotel can cost between $80 to $200 per night.

Before you leave, make sure to head over to the town of Split, where the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his retirement home more than 1700 years ago. And of course, fans of “Game of Thrones will want to check out Dubrovnik. This coastal city was the main filming location in Croatia for King's Landing, a fictional city in the television series.

*Exchange rate: 6.66 Croatian Kuna to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Mexico

Our neighbor to the south, Mexico has long been a popular destination for North Americans. Jumping from No. 15 in 2013 to the sixth most visited destination in the world in 2017, Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, cosmopolitan capital city, and thriving restaurant scene are some of the many reasons people flock there.

But can you do it on a budget? You betcha. And given its proximity to the U.S., flights to Mexico are relatively cheap.

Mexico offers a combination of rich culture, palm-lined beaches, and a budget-friendly capital to explore in Mexico City. There, not only will you find delectable yet affordable cuisine and shops but also ancient Aztec sites a stone’s throw away. Get around the city with public transportation and it should only cost you about 25 cents each time. When you’re ready to call it a night, $100 should be more than enough to get you a room in a four-star hotel — and sometimes five-star hotel — during peak season. Staying in an Airbnb Plus apartment during that same time can cost around $50 per night.

*Exchange rate: 19.65 Mexican Pesos to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Morocco

With exotic beaches, four imperial cities, mountain ranges, and the stunning Sahara Desert, Morocco is a popular destination for culture lovers, backpackers, foodies, and more.

Go camel trekking, camp for the night in the Sahara, or visit one of the many beaches that stretch from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. To liven your senses a bit, mingle at the Jemaa el-Fnaa Market in the Old City of Marrakesh, where you’ll find a slew of people, storytellers, dancers, affordable food, and plenty of shopping.

Accommodation will vary depending on travel time and location, but a private room in a hostel in Marrakesh during peak season will set you back about $20 per night. You can expect to pay around $75 for a four-star hotel during that same time.

*Exchange rate: 9.62 Moroccan Dirham to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Poland

With its charming old towns and medieval architecture, rich history, breathtaking mountain ranges, and vibrant city life, Poland is a country that should make it onto every traveler’s list.

Poland boasts 16 UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites, one of the world’s biggest castles, alluring outdoor landscapes, and a captivating mix of modernity and historic charm. You’ll find a plethora of museums and plenty of history in this European country, as well as affordable food, an energetic city, and beautiful old town areas.

A five-star hotel in Krakow during peak season will generally cost you about $150 per night, while an Airbnb will run you about $30 per night. To save the most on food, check out a “bar mleczny,” or “milk bar” — a Polish form of cafeteria.

*Exchange rate: 3.91 Poland Zloty to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

South Africa

Any type of budget will do in this unique destination. With one of the most diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich cultures, South Africa provides a ton of value at an affordable price.

Any adventure lovers? Take a sunset drive through one of Africa’s largest game reserves and experience a safari. If that's not enough, you'll find plenty of adrenaline-packed outdoor activities to keep your blood pumping. And for all you self-proclaimed foodies out there, Cape Town was named the world's best food cities in 2016 by Conde Nast Traveler.

As far as hotels go in South Africa, they’re pretty reasonable. A stay in a four-star hotel during Cape Town’s high season can range between $50 to $125 per night. In comparison, an Airbnb Plus should run you around $60 per night.

*Exchange rate: 15.30 South African Rand to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Vietnam

Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest-growing countries, but it’s still quite easy to travel there on a budget. With a rich history, natural beauty, and a booming craft beer scene, Vietnam won’t disappoint.

Lodging in Vietnam can range from ultra-budget options to ultra-luxurious like anywhere else. But in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be able to pay around $50 to $100 per night for a comfortable, high-rated hotel during peak-season months.

There’s also plenty to do on the cheap. View Ho Chi Minh City from the Saigon Skydeck, relax on a boat as you tour iconic fishing villages along the Mekong Delta, or discover the hidden underground world of Vietnam’s network of tunnels. Refuel with a glass of bia hoi (locally brewed draft beer), which costs about 20 cents a glass. If you're hungry, grab a bowl of pho (noodle soup) for a dollar or two in many places.

*Exchange rate: 23,172.82 Vietnamese Dong to the U.S. Dollar (as of August 2019)

Bonus tips on how to make travel more affordable

Regardless of where you visit, using one of the best travel credit cards to help you get there is a great way to cut the costs of travel. Make sure you look for credit cards with no foreign transaction fees so you don’t get hit with a fee each time you swipe your card abroad.

As you plan your next trip, consider using websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Dollar Flight Club. These sites can be great resources for finding the best deal out there.

If you aren’t quite sure when you’re going to travel, fare trackers such as Hopper or Google Flights can help. Track airfare prices with a few clicks and get notified on the best time to buy to ensure you’re paying the best fare.

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