Planning a vacation is a stressful experience. You might have a perception of where you want to go but upon doing some research you find out that you are not even close to being able to afford that trip.
The good news is that we have compiled this list to help you. This article will countdown 10 of the cheapest countries to visit in 2018 and on the flip-side, 10 of the most expensive. All of the entries on this list are either very cheap or very expensive but I have tried to limit them to countries that tourists are more likely to actually want to visit. For example, Serbia is very cheap to visit but tourists aren't exactly clamoring to go there.
In determining the cost of the trip, I have looked at several factors; transportation (both to and within the country), lodging, food, and the cost of popular activities. In doing so, I hope that I have taken some of the hassle out of planning a vacation. Even if you decide not to go to one of the cheapest tourist countries, I hope that you will at least avoid some of the most expensive ones.
If you can think of any countries that are particularly cheap or expensive that didn't make our list, feel free to mention them in the comments.
20 Cheapest - Belize - Gets an Unnecessary bad rap
Belize has gotten a bad rap in the international community because of the deteriorating conditions of their economy and infrastructure. The indigenous people of Belize were conquered and colonized by the Spanish in the early colonial period, and this history has taken its toll on the country. Following independence, the economy never fully developed, and Belize has consistently battled with civil issues.
Because of the countries poor reputation, travel and accommodations on the island are incredibly cheap. There's still so much incredible beauty to see in this small nation. Flights can be around $400 from the US and hotels can be found for much less than $60 a night.
19 Expensive - Japan - A standout in SouthEast asia
I think the fact that Japan is such a pricey tourist destination once again signals how different it is from the rest of the countries in Southeast Asia. I have friends who have stayed in Vietnam or Thailand for long periods of time and once you are there, you can easily live on less than $100 a month. Japan is totally different. Since the destruction of WWII, the country has increasingly industrialized and Japan now stands as one of the true modernized nations in the world.
This prevalence of technology and culture will cost you, and the hotels there are rather pricey.
18 Cheapest - Ireland - Budget airlines to thank
Most countries in Western Europe are pretty pricey to visit. Thanks to discount airline Aer Lingus, however, getting a flight to Ireland from most cities on the USA's east coast is actually very affordable. Aer Lingus has its base in Boston, so plane tickets can cost as little as $300 for a round trip ticket. Once you arrive in Dublin things get a more expensive, but not so much that you should exceed $700 in a week long visit.
Transportation within Ireland is pretty cheap. Uber and Lyft have caught on in most major cities, and you can get a bus to just about anywhere on the island.
17 Expensive - Italy - high tourism, high prices
If you are planning a trip from the United States, the countries in Western Europe will probably be more expensive than their counterparts in other parts of the world. A perfect example of this is Italy.
The home place of the Renaissance, this country on the Mediterranean is still steeped in art and culture. This doesn't even include their food and wine which is widely considered to be some of the best in the world. You will pay for all of this if you go there, expect a week long trip to cost you upwards of $2,000.
16 Cheapest - Guatemala - Tikal is a worthy focal point for any trip
I don't know if any region of the world is as constantly disregarded by the international community as Central America is. Because there are no major economic players in the area, these countries are consistently taken advantage of and ignored by travelers.
One of the most impoverished of these nations, Guatemala, is one of the most cost-efficient destinations in the entire world. Flights from any major airport should cost you about $350 dollars and hotels along the coast can be as cheap as $50 a night.
Tikal, an ancient Mayan city that still has the remains of several ancient cities that should the focal point of any trip.
15 Expensive - Australia - Getting there will cost you
I remember the first time I tried to plan a trip to Australia how devastated I was to see the final price tag. Thanks to countless movies and TV shows, this island nation holds a special place in the American psyche.
But getting to Australia isn't as easy as they make it seem on TV. The plane tickets, in particular, are very expensive. Unless you find a gem, flights from the east coast are usually in the $2,000 range and tickets from the west coast are only slightly cheaper. Once you get into the country things aren't so bad but just getting there will put a serious hit on your pocketbook.
14 Cheapest - Taiwan - Desperate for tourism
In another entry we talk about how a lot of countries in Southeast Asia are easy to travel to. The cheapest of these countries might just be Taiwan, a small island nation that used to be (and is still considered by the Chinese government) part of the Democratic Republic of China. Because of its tumultuous relationship with China, Taiwan has had a hard time getting other countries to trade with it or to even acknowledge its sovereignty.
As such, the country is desperate for outside capital no matter what form that takes. Once you arrive in Taiwan, you should be able to support yourself on $100 a month.
13 Expensive - Maldives - For the rich and famous
The Maldives are certainly not affordable to a normal tourist but that is because it isn't meant to be. This small archipelago nation became famous for being a favorite vacation destination for the super rich and famous.
This niche has helped to support the Maldives economy. They do not have a high enough population or enough land to bring in revenue without this tourism. But part of the allure of the Maldives is its exclusiveness.
If the island was cheap enough for anyone to afford it would not be as attractive to its celebrity clientele. So, don’t expect this country to get any cheaper anytime soon.
12 Cheapest - Cuba - So close to florida
I find it interesting how the relationships between countries can impact the lives of regular citizens. For instance, the one between Cuba and the United States not only prevented any trade from occurring between the two nations, it also limited how much contact could be had between each countries' people.
All of this changed when Obama lifted some of the restrictions on Cuba (post-Castro), and tourists from the U.S. were once again able to travel to the small island nation.
This is perfect because Cuba is only a few hundred miles off of the coast of Florida. This makes it very cheap and easy to travel to.
11 Expensive - The United States - Prices spike in tourist hubs
Most of the list is written from the point of view of someone who lives in the United States or Canada, but what if some of our readers don’t? I think it is worth mentioning that one of the most expensive countries to visit is the United States itself.
It is a first world country, so it is expensive in that aspect. The United States is also expensive because it is so isolated from most of the world. Unless you live in the Western Hemisphere, a plane ticket to the U.S. is going to cost you at least $1,000. Depending on where you’re from, food and lodging prices might also be inflated.
10 Cheapest - Sweden - Our Pick of the Nordic
There isn't a lot to do for free in Europe, so it is important that travelers leave themselves a significant amount of spending money for their trip.
An exception to this is the Nordic countries in Northern Europe. Travel to Sweden specifically is very affordable, tickets from the east coast of North America can cost as little as $300.
Food and lodging within Sweden can get somewhat pricey, but not nearly as bad as the expensive entries on this list. The infrastructure within Sweden is very well developed so travel within the country is very easy.
9 Expensive - Great Britain - Pricey food and lodging
It amazes me how deep of a connection there still is between the United States and Britain. The United States got their independence in 1776 and since then has had two and a half centuries of immigration from other countries.
But still, it seems like there is some connection that causes Americans every year to visit Great Britain in droves. This is despite the fact that going to England can actually be very expensive. Flights from some parts of the U.S. can be relatively cheap (the northeast mainly) but food and lodging in England tends to be pricey.
8 Cheapest - Iceland - Getting there is a breeze
Like most European countries, one of the most expansive parts about vacationing in Iceland is the cost of getting there.
What is different about Iceland, is that depending on where you live in the United States or Canada, even your plane ticket might not cost that much. Planes should cost you around $200 dollars, depending on when your trip is and what airport you depart from. But once you land in Iceland, the rest of your journey isn't as cheap as getting there is. Food and accommodation is more expensive that you'd imagine, however if you're smart about it then thanks to the cheap flights, your overall journey costs will remain below average.
Iceland's greatest attractions have not yet become the tourist traps that are so prevalent in other destinations.
7 Expensive - Egypt - The pyramids are a tourist hot spot
The continent of Africa doesn't get a lot of tourism. Part of this is because of the way that Africa is portrayed to the western world.
One African nation that does get a lot of attention from tourists is Egypt. The pyramids and the Sphinx bring in millions of tourists every year and the capital city of Cairo is also a popular vacation spot. All of this popularity has made the price of going to Egypt too high for an ordinary person.
6 Cheapest - Guyana - not your typical traveler destination
Guyana, a small country in the northern region of South America, is not your typical tourist destination. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not only does Guyana not suffer from the appropriation and overcrowding (or at least not to the extent) that other countries do, because it is less reliant on tourism, it is also a fairly cheap place to visit. Hotels in metropolitan areas (Georgetown is really the only one worth mentioning) cost about $75 a night but they are even cheaper in more rural areas.
Getting to Guyana should be the most expensive part of your trip, but flights from NYC to Georgetown are only about $350 per ticket.
5 Expensive - Aruba - incredibly expensive resorts
They say that the island nation of Aruba is absolutely beautiful. I cannot personally attest to this fact because I have never been there.
The reason why I have never been to Aruba is because it is outrageously expensive. Other islands in the Caribbean like the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands can get pricey but nothing like Aruba.
Plane tickets are more expensive because it is further away from the continental United States. Once you arrive, however, is when the real fun begins. Any resort along the beach will cost you more than $250 a night and food can also get expensive.
4 Cheapest - Brazil - so much to see
There are several countries worth visiting in South America, and several of them could be visited on a fairly affordable budget. If I had my choice of nations to visit in South America, however, I would probably choose Brazil.
I do not know if there is another country on earth that has as many attractions to offer that can be visited for such an insanely cheap price. You can get a nice hotel room in Rio de Janeiro for about $40, and it would be even cheaper to stay in a hostel. Flights from various places in the United States range from $500 to $700.
3 Expensive - Russia - Intercity travel will cost you
For a variety of reasons, Russia has become a popular destination for young tourists from the United States. The complex relationship between Russia (and the Soviet Union before that) and the United States has meant that very few Americans have ever been to Russia, thereby making it a very unique vacation.
The problem with Russia is that it is so outrageously big that traveling to and within the country is very expensive. On top of that, their infrastructure is rather poor, so you're paying a ton for very little value.
Housing and food can be cheap but unless you want to stay in one city for the entire trip, you will eventually have to shell out for transportation.
2 Cheapest - South Korea - Getting friendly with its neighbors
As I write this entry, our next destination may be becoming more expensive. South Korea is becoming more friendly with its neighbors, which means that more people will want to travel to the Asian country, thus making it more expensive.
Luckily for us, South Korea is currently so cheap that even a significant increase in the price of living won't stop a trip to South Korea from being incredibly affordable. You can find hotels in Seoul for less than $60 a night. Once you’re there and you have a room, the food in South Korea is famously inexpensive.
1 Expensive - Greece - Another popular tourist stop
We have two countries from the Mediterranean on this list and many of the factors that make traveling to Greece so expensive are the same issues that make Italy such a pricey destination. The primary factor is that so many people want to go to Greece. Not only is the weather nice there for much of the year, attractions like the Parthenon are a big hit with foreign tourists.
The capital city of Athens is also hugely popular and sees thousands of tourists every year. A plane ticket from the U.S. to Greece will probably cost you around $1,200. Once you arrive, you will find that the hotels in places like Athens and Santorini can also be rather expensive.