Going on vacation when still in college can seem like a pipe dream especially because of the shoestring budgets most students survive on. Expensive accommodation, food, and transportation options — among other expenses that travel necessitates — can understandably kill a student’s globe-trotting dreams.
Luckily, there are plenty of budget-friendly travel destinations across the world that you can visit, especially as a student backpacker.
Each backpacker’s destination listed below offers cheap eats, free sights and tours, affordable housing options, and easily accessible public transportation. Where will you go next?
London has a reputation for being a very expensive city, which is somewhat true, but it doesn’t mean that a student cannot enjoy life here on a shoestring budget. The best way to explore the city on a budget is to join a London free walking tour. You will be taken to all the unpaid attraction sites so that you only spend money on accommodation and food.
Most parks and museums are free in this city. For meals, be sure to visit the city’s glitzy neighborhoods where food and liquor prices aren’t as exaggerated as they are in the more touristy areas. You can also find cheap hostels that allow you to cook your own food, or that offer free breakfast.
A backpacking budget of $70-$80 per day should cover all of your London expenses, including food and accommodation.
If you want to see the Andes at close range or watch beautiful bird species in the Amazon jungle, this South American nation is a great place to visit.
Because the nation’s two major cities — Bogota, the capital city, and Cartagena on the Caribbean coast — are developing at a very fast pace, cheap accommodation options run as low as $15 per night. As for the food, tons of affordable restaurants line the cities’ downtown, all selling local delicacies starting at as low as $5 per meal, per person. What’s more, the locals are very friendly and always ready to help tourists.
When it comes to getting around Bogota, the TransMilenio bus system is your best bet. An average ride costs roughly $0.85. Taxis are also available and are cheaper than in most major US cities, but you should avoid taking a taxi alone or late at night. In Cartagena, the Transcaribe bus system is also very affordable at just $0.65 a ride. Yellow taxis are also prevalent, but unlike in Bogota these taxis don’t have meters, so make sure to ask for the price of your ride upfront to avoid over-charging.
Apart from food, accommodation, and transportation you will want about $15-20 per day for paid attractions and miscellaneous purchases. With an average budget of $50 per day, you will be able to comfortably backpack in Colombia.
There are many cheap accommodation options in Florida and one of the most popular is staying in a vacation rental. The Sunshine State is a dream destination for every backpacker because of its many unpaid hiking trails and free beach activities.
For short trips within town, try the local bus or trolley. In major cities, Ubers are available for longer trips and, though not exactly cheap, they are much cheaper than Uber in other major US cities like NYC and San Francisco. Many cities now offer bike sharing programs too, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.
Fast food in Florida goes for about $6-$8, beer goes for around $4-$8, and dinner is approximately $15-$30 per person. If you visit Florida alone, a budget of $80 will be enough to cover food, accommodation, travel, and activities per day.
Any college student would be attracted to Thailand’s wide range of attractions, great beaches, buzzing cities that come to life at night, and food/accommodation options for every budget.
Hotel dorm beds are in abundance here and cost as little as $7-10 a night. The street food is spectacular (and cheap!) and the people are very friendly.
Public transportation in Bangkok, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, is extremely efficient and includes a sky train, underground, and buses. In other major cities like Phuket motobike taxis and tuk tuks are in abundance.
A budget of $20-$50 will do.
Visiting Peru should be on every college student’s bucket list. Apart from its famous adventures like trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and cursing the Amazon River, Peru is an astonishing country which provides diverse, welcoming, and beautiful culture.
We highly recommend that you take a Peru tour, to explore all the attractions at a reasonable price.
There are lots of budget hotels where you can stay for as little as $7 a night. To keep your food costs down, look for restaurants that offer lunch menus — they have $3-4 deals that include a starter and main course. And when it comes to transportation, you can rely on buses.
A daily budget of $25-35 dollars in Peru will do.
Visiting Albania will give some Italian and Greek vibes, but at a much lower price point. Life here isn’t as expensive as in other EU countries, making it ideal for a backpacking student traveler. While here, enjoy arguably the best Mediterranean views, hike the Accursed Mountains, taste some of the best cuisines that Europe has to offer, and swim at one of the nation’s sunshine beaches along the Mediterranean Coast.
If you opt to stay at the capital, Tirana, you will have the chance to see different historical ruins and interact first hand with the nation’s rich history. Meanwhile, the busy nightlife around Blloku is perfect for student travelers looking for some excitement. Albania is, undoubtedly, Europe’s hidden jewel.
When backpacking in Albania, a budget of about 5,000 LEK (approximately $45 USD) per day, per person, will be enough. That means sleeping in a hostel dorm, mostly visiting free attractions, and eating cheap street food. Luckily, the food in Albania is delicious.
About Lisa Mottins: Lisa is a young, ambitious writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCF. She is currently learning to code and developing her photography skills. She loves expressing herself creatively and sharing her experiences in hopes of helping others.