Backpacking has made traveling around the globe easier for those on a budget that even broke college students are taking trips to exotic locales on spring break. Backpacking used to be reserved for dedicated wilderness hikers, but these days it has become more diverse, with backpackers traveling through huge cities.
Backpackers utilize budget accommodation, including hostels and home-shares, taking public transportation, and avoiding eating in the touristy areas to save money. Although you won't have a luxury vacation, you might see some undiscovered parts of town and even befriend some locals.
But for those seasoned backpackers who've been to the popular destinations, or travelers on a tight budget, try one of these underrated countries on your next trip.
Nicaragua is a beautiful tropical nation in Central America with none of the crowds of Costa Rica or Belize. It's friendly, safe, and solo backpackers will easily be able to navigate the country on their own.
In its capital, Managua, or the coastal cities of Granada and Leon, a hostel dorm bed should only cost around $10. If you stick to local cuisine, you'll only pay a $2-3 for a full meal in a restaurant (though it does help to know a bit of Spanish when ordering). Travel in the off-season from December to February for the cheapest prices, and the weather is usually a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Part Europe, part Central Asia — Turkey is the perfect place to go to see a little bit of everything. Historically, it was part of the Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, so you can be assured its got all the culture and history a backpacker could ask for.
Turkey is great for backpackers who want to loop the whole country on its extensive (environmentally friendly!) trail network or see its breathtaking sites. Hostel dorms start at around $5 in Istanbul, and are even cheaper in rural areas. Eat smart at markets and street food stalls and your daily meals will be even cheaper than your accommodation.
8 Sri Lanka
Backpacking Thailand must be one of the Backpacker Club membership requirements, but so many are missing out on other South Asian countries. Sri Lanka, a little island nation located off the southern tip of India, is one of those countries that many backpackers miss out on. With both Indian and Southeast Asian influences, you won't want to miss out.
In the capital, Colombo, stay in hostels and eat at the markets for about $15 a day, leaving plenty of extra spending money. Just watch out for locals at tourist sites trying to overcharge you, and practice your haggling skills if you want to try and get discounts.
Travelers, hikers, and backpackers have long known about the stunning views and lovely natives in Nepal, but everyone should experience the Himalayas at least once. Not only is Nepal home to the world's highest mountain peaks that professional adventurers strive to conquer, but it has endless hiking trails for less experienced hikers.
Start in Kathmandu, where you can score a hostel for just $2 a night! Then set out to any of the country's trails, where you'll find villages, lodging, markets, and temples all under a backpacker's budget. And although Mount Everest is technically in Tibet, die-hard hikers can hike Everest's South Base Camp in Nepal.
South America is a lot safer than we're led to believe, and with a few general rules to follow, even solo travelers can have an exciting trip. Skip the beaten paths of Brazil, Argentina, and Peru, and opt for Bolivia, one of the continent's last hidden gems.
Backpackers who enjoy camping will easily the most basic accommodation for under $5, but be warned, you won't find modern amenities like Wi-Fi here. There are plenty of attractions that are cheap and easy to get to via public transportation, most famously the world's largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni.
Albania, just north of tourist-packed Greece, has all the Mediterranean wonder of the area's other countries at a fraction of the cost. If you want azure seas, looming mountains, and thousands of years of history, pack up and head out to this Balkan country.
If you're dying to explore Europe, but can't afford the cost of some of its major tourist cities, you'll want to try Eastern Europe and the Balkans. In Tirana, Albania's capital city, you can find hostels for under $20 a night, and many of its museums and galleries have free admission. As for food, you can dine at a nice restaurant for about $5 a meal.
Many people immediately think "Bali!" at the mention of Indonesia, but think again. Although Bali is beautiful (and budget-friendly), it's getting a bit overcrowded these days now that it's no longer a secret locale.
The rest of Indonesia, however, remains a backpacker's paradise. There are thousands of islands to explore, and on most, you can rent a private lodge for less than $10 a night. Traditional massages will run you a couple of dollars, and temple admission is often less. Street food will fill you up and only cost anywhere from mere cents to $2. You can almost build a luxury holiday on a backpacker's budget in Indonesia.
In Tanzania, backpackers can experience an authentic African safari without the price tag of the more popular South African resorts. If you're prepared for primitive amenities, you can find hostels for around $ 4, or up to $10 if you need a bit more comfort.
Don't forget Tanzania is home to Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Outdoorsy backpackers will never be bored, but even those who enjoy cities will find Tanzania fascinating. Don't forget to try the local cuisine, at about $1 a meal, you'll be able to try everything!
Want to travel Scandinavia but can't afford the outrageous prices of Stockholm or Oslo? Look no further than Estonia, a country just across the Baltic Sea from Finland. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Estonia's economy has thrived since its independence, creating a hub of opportunity for travelers, though it remains largely unexplored by foreigners.
In the capital Tallinn, there are endless free things to do, if you ever tire of wandering Old Town's cobbled streets. Hostels usually cost around $10 a night, even in the city center among medieval steeples. Beware of the cruise ships, though, because when they dock, Old Town is flooded with awkward tourists.
Morocco is hardly the undiscovered gem of Africa, but few foreigners actually go there. Most dream of staying in a traditional riad, the Moroccan courtyard home, but if you really want to soak in as much culture as you can, stay in a hostel, bed and breakfast, or home-share.
Major cities like Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Tangier see the most tourists and all have dozens of hostels, some of which you can find for $5-10 per night. In the country's colorful markets, you can find locally made souvenirs for less than $1, and food is extremely cheap from their stalls. Don't forget to try the famous Moroccan mint tea!