There are essentially two major groups of tourists. There are older tourists who are generally able to afford certain travel comforts for them and their families and there are college-aged students, traveling alone, who are looking for the most affordable options possible. This article is for that second group.
Travel websites love to talk about which countries are the best to visit but rarely do they acknowledge that your best vacation significantly depends on your age and preferences.
This article will list the 10 countries to visit on a tiny budget, and 10 where our money won't last an hour. Every entry in the first part of this article should be affordable to an average college student. But this doesn't mean that they don't vary in cost or levels of dopeness.
The experience that you can have in Belize for $1,000 is incomparable to the experience that you would have in Ireland for that same amount of money. Still, this article should provide you with a basic guideline for choosing your next vacation abroad. I can also guarantee that you are more likely to meet people your own age of you are traveling to places where other college students can also afford to go.
Going south of the border might be the cheapest and easiest way for college students in the United States to travel outside of the country. Depending on where you are in the U.S., getting to Mexico can be very affordable.
Once you arrive, if you are smart with your money, you can easily live and vacation in Mexico for less than $250 per week. The food and drinks in certain cities are notoriously cheap, especially if you can avoid the tourist traps in places like Cancun. This is a huge part of any college vacation.
If you were to poll every college student in the United States and Canada, at least 75% of them would say that they would like to travel to Australia someday. But only a small portion of them will ever get a chance to, and even fewer of them will travel to the Outback while they are still in college.
Just getting to Australia can get extremely pricey, as plane tickets from the U.S. cost around $2,000 round trip. Food and lodging aren’t too expensive once you arrive, but they also aren’t so cheap as to make up for the high cost of getting to Australia.
If you are coming from the West Coast of the U.S. Or Canada, this next entry is even cheaper. But even if you are forced to pay the $900 fee to fly from the East Coast to Thailand, you can rest easy knowing that this will by far be the most expensive part of your trip.
I have read articles from college students who stayed in Thailand for over a month and spent less than $300. You can rent an apartment or house in almost any part of Thailand for pennies on the dollar. Therefore, almost anyone should be able to afford a shorter trip.
Depending on where in North America you live, getting to London might not be that expensive. I have seen plane tickets to London from parts of the East Coast for less than $300. Once you arrive in the United Kingdom, however, is when things start to get pricey. Hotels in London certainly aren't cheap.
If you are staying close to the best tourist attractions, a nice hotel will certainly cost you more than $100 per night. On top of where you stay, it seems like everything to do in London is pricey. All these things can add up for a poor college student.
This next entry is limited to people who live on the East Coast. If you are one of these lucky college students, you should easily be able to find a round trip ticket to Ireland for less than $400. Once you arrive, things shouldn't be too pricey.
Hostels are aplenty in Ireland and if you are smart about where you eat, you shouldn't spend too much money on food. Because the island of Ireland is so small, travel within the country is very easy and affordable.
The only area where you might spend a little bit more than you would like is at the touristy places like Blarney Castle.
A lot of the entries in this article are expensive because of the high cost of a plane ticket. If you live on the East Coast of North America, your plane ticket to Japan can be pretty pricey but if you live on the West Coast, it should be very affordable. Where you live, however, will not change how expensive Japan is for tourists once they arrive on the islands.
Hotels can be very expensive in Japan and hostels haven't really caught on anywhere outside of Tokyo. Food and attractions can also be very expensive for someone on a college budget.
Most of our readers are in the U.S. or Canada. I could have made two separate entries for each of these countries but in the interest of diversity, I thought I could combine them into one.
If you are a college student in either the U.S. or Canada, I think that it would be worth your time (and money) to visit your neighboring country. The close proximity between these nations makes travel affordable and the good relationship between the two countries also makes this one of the easiest border crossings that you will ever undertake.
While researching for this article, I tried to find out which countries are visited most by college students every year. Most of the countries that get a lot of college-aged tourists are the major nations that you would expect in southeast Asia and Western Europe. There were a couple of surprises, however, including the nation of South Africa.
I’m not sure what the appeal of South Africa is to college students in North America but it definitely isn’t because it is a cheap destination. Just getting to South Africa will cost you more than $1,000 and once you arrive, things do not get any more affordable.
I think that one of the most underrated places for college students to travel is eastern Europe. There are so many cool countries and cities for young people to visit and once you arrive in eastern Europe, travel lodging, and food is very affordable.
The problem with Eastern Europe is that a lot of travelers are turned off by the instability of the region. With this issue in mind, I would recommend the Czech Republic as an inexpensive destination for budget travelers.
Czech is an affordable destination with enough of an Eastern European feel to make it authentic but it is close enough to the security of Western Europe that inexperienced travelers won’t feel uncomfortable.
The typical European road trip for college students from North America is to arrive in London, travel to France, Spain, and possibly Germany before returning home to the U.S. or Canada.
France is also popular as a solo destination for students due to the amazing amount of art and culture in places like Paris. The problem with traveling to France is that it is so gosh darn expensive.
Depending on where you are flying from, the plane ticket to Europe can be pricey, and once you arrive in France you will have to pay a large amount of money for food and lodging.
When people from the U.S. and Canada travel south of the United States border, they generally do so in two specific travel patterns. Either they stop in the country immediately after the border, Mexico, or they travel all the way to the more popular countries located in South America. Rarely do they travel to the countries that make up Central America like Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.
These are very poor countries whose primary industry is some form of extraction (food production, mining, etc.). They are not well adapted to tourists but that is exactly what makes them so special, and cheap.
It is a recent trend among college-aged students to travel to Russia. For decades, it was taboo to travel this far into eastern Europe and even to this day, it comes with a certain stereotype. The problem with traveling to Russia is that the country is so massive that you cannot possibly hope to see everything.
For someone on a low budget, specifically, it can be very difficult and expensive to travel through Russia. There is the cost of getting to Eastern Europe and once you arrive in Russia, travel between cities can be long and pricey.
I have been working at a college recently, and traveling abroad is a huge part of the curriculum here. A lot of the students that I have talked to have been to Morocco. I was initially surprised by this. When I think of college students traveling abroad, I think of them doing the typical three-stop trip in London, Paris, and Madrid. It is because of this stereotypical triumvirate, however, that all of these students got to go to Morocco.
Morocco is technically in Africa but it is so close to southern Europe that it is a natural destination for students hoping to prolong their study abroad.
As I plan my own trip to Italy this upcoming summer, I cannot help but wonder how someone who is still an undergrad could hope to afford a trip to the Italian peninsula.
As if getting to southern Europe isn’t hard enough, once you arrive you have to deal with some of the most expensive lodging rates in Europe. Buying food and drinks can also get very expensive, as a nice restaurant will cost you significantly more than it would in the U.S. or Canada. This is not within the budget of most college students.
The islands of the Bahamas are one of those destinations that everyone wants to go to but that the majority of people have convinced themselves is too expensive to be affordable to the average person. For someone in the U.S. or Canada, this is absolutely not true. Sure, some of the nicer resorts can be expensive but you make up for that in other areas.
Food in the Bahamas is cheaper than you would find in the mainlands. In addition, you can find plane tickets to the Bahamas for less than $250.
Germany has a legendary status in the minds of college students. Thanks to movies like Beerfest, there is a perception of Germany as one giant frat party. This isn't exactly true and even worse, you are going to pay for thinking that it is.
Germany is easily one of the most expensive countries that I have ever been to. Everything from food to lodging will cost you more in Germany than it would in the U.S. or Canada. This is especially true for Germany's greatest export, beer. One stein will cost you anywhere from $8-16.
Honestly, this place in the article could have been reserved for almost any nation in South America. The entire continent, as a whole, is very poor. This makes them desperate for tourism and their prices reflect that.
Brazil is the most popular of these countries, especially among college kids. Rio de Janeiro Harbor is supposed to be one of the most fun and unique destinations in the entire world.
Rio got a lot of bad press during the 2014 World Cup but the city is much safer when it is not teeming with extra people. It, and Brazil in general, is certainly worthy of the low cost of getting there.
For decades, South Korea has been an underrated destination in Eastern Asia. The capital city of Seoul offered all the cultural advantages of major cities in China and Japan but at a price that college students could afford.
As South Korea has become more stable and achieved better relations with its neighbor to the north, the cost of going visiting has gone up. Political stability attracts tourism and as the demand for South Korea has gone up, the supply has gotten more expensive.
No longer is this a country where an average budget-minded traveler could hope to visit.
There is definitely a dichotomy of the haves and have-nots among the small island nations in the Caribbean.
Countries like Aruba have benefited from political stability for decades. This has made them very popular among tourists. By contrast, poorer nations like Belize have struggled to bring in tourists, which has contributed to their struggles.
If you are looking to go to the Caribbean on a budget, somewhere like Belize might be your best option. They are so desperate for tourists that they have tried to make everything as inexpensive as possible.
The nation of India has one of the fastest growing economies and populations in the entire world. In addition, the Indian diaspora is very wide and diverse, meaning large numbers of people of Indian descent have traveled and moved to several different places.
Why then, is it so difficult and expensive to travel to India? Places like Japan and South Korea are much further from the East Coast of the United States but it is actually cheaper to go to those places than it is to go to India.
This isn't the best-case scenario for budget travelers.