With 2021 full of hope, it’s time to dust off your backpack and think about where to go next. If you’re on a budget, you may be wondering about the cheapest countries for backpacking travel. The thing is, especially if you’ve been aching to get back out there, ‘budget travel’ can be a bit of an oxymoron. People go traveling to see something new, and once it finally becomes possible to go backpacking in 2021, the last thing you want to do is restrict yourself.

The way to travel on a budget without feeling too limited is to go backpacking in countries where food, accommodation, and transport are cheap. This will allow you to stretch your budget and splurge on the occasional special activity to get the most out of your trip. The good news is, after you figure out a cheap way to get to your destination, it is possible to travel around some of the most beautiful destinations on earth for less than $20 a day. Believe it or not, it can sometimes be cheaper to be on the road than to stay at home considering your normal rent and daily expenses! 

So without further ado, here is our updated list of the cheapest backpacking countries for 2021.

Bulgaria – The best Eastern European country for budget travel

Even though Bulgaria is the cheapest backpacking country to visit in Eastern Europe, it has an abundance of gorgeous landscapes that rival its neighbors. During our 5 days in Bulgaria were able to see Alpine mountains, forested countryside, sandy beaches on the Black Sea, plus beautiful cities like Sofia and Veliko Tărnovo.

The Rila Monastery near Sofia in Bulgaria, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world

The Rila Monastery near Sofia, Bulgaria

Because we were traveling in the off season, we were able to splurge on the occasional high-end luxury accommodation for less than $100 a night. Of course, you can always find cheaper hostels in Bulgaria. Food and drink are also super affordable, with the average price of a beer being about a dollar.

Learn more: Backpacking in Bulgaria

India

India is one of those countries where budget travel is almost entirely dependent on your willingness to haggle. If you strike the right tone, India can be one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world.

When booking guesthouses, you’ll most certainly get a better price by booking directly with the guest house versus booking online through an agency. Transportation-wise, it is super cheap to get around in India. In the big cities, we recommend using Uber it’s actually much cheaper than the prices you’ll be quoted for a tuk-tuk ride. For intercity travel, trains cost between $8 – $30, and you can even find flights within that price range!

Learn more: Backpacking in India

Portugal – The cheapest backpacking country in Western Europe

Portugal is a great option in Western Europe for travelers on a budget. You’ll be able to experience the vibrant European culture as well as world-famous food and wine at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in France or Spain. 

Learn more: Backpacking in Portugal

Cambodia

Cambodia has so much to offer, and you can travel there for about $20 a day. Private rooms in a nice guesthouse will cost you about $10, and tuk-tuk rides are a savvy way to get around. Our guest house helped us arrange a private tuk-tuk driver to help us visit the many temples of Angkor Wat for just $12!  You can even get a 30-day SIM card with 1.5 GB of data for $2.

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia, one of the cheapest backpacking countries

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex

Learn more: Backpacking in Cambodia

Georgia

With medieval fortresses, majestic mountains, and friendly locals, the country of Georgia should be much higher on the list of top backpacking destinations. And with delicious meals starting at $3, and $1 local buses, it’s one of the best countries for budget travel. You don’t have to withhold on the cultural activities here, since most entrance tickets cost around $2.

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

Learn more: Backpacking in Georgia

The Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the old trope ‘beer is cheaper than water’ is actually true. While the Czech Republic boasts much of the same beauty as its neighbors like Germany and Austria, it’s possible to travel here at a fraction of the cost.

Learn more: Backpacking in the Czech Republic

Bolivia – the cheapest backpacking country in South America

Bolivia is one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world and is very popular with adventurers. Here, it is possible to get a 3-course meal for less than $2. Accommodation in a hostel dorm room costs between $8-$12 a night, and local and long-distance buses are a cheap way to get around. Even the most famous backpacker destination in Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats, won’t break the bank, costing around $200 for 3 days, which is relatively cheap for this bucket-list destination!

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Learn more: Backpacking in Bolivia

Nepal

Trekking in Nepal doesn’t have to cost as much as you might imagine. Other than the Everest Base Camp Trek (an exorbitant expense), there are plenty of beautiful Himalayan treks where it is possible to go by yourself. The Short Annapurna Circuit, for example, is well-marked with guesthouses along the path for about $5 a night, so you won’t have to carry tons of gear. (If you want to go all the way to Annapurna Base Camp, you’ll need to go with a guide). Food and drink in Nepal are also very affordable, with meals costing between $2-$3.

Learn more: Backpacking in Nepal

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is certainly one of those countries where you can travel on a budget or live in the lap of luxury for relatively affordable prices. Their infamous train system (a bucket-list item in itself) is the cheapest way to get around the country. Or, you could hire a private taxi to travel between cities with a few other people from your hostel. Keep a special travel budget set aside for entrance fees to nature reserves and UNESCO Heritage sites!

Learn more: Backpacking in Sri Lanka

Colombia

One of our favorite backpacking destinations because of the friendly locals, diverse landscapes, and of course, affordability. You could easily backpack in Colombia for a month with just $1000 in your bank account. By taking long-distance buses, staying in hostel dorm rooms, and cooking your own food in the hostel kitchens, you can visit destinations like Medellín, Cartagena, and Salento on a budget.

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

Learn more: Backpacking in Colombia

Honorable Mention

Denmark

This country certainly doesn’t scream ‘budget travel’ but it’s the cheapest country in Scandinavia. If visiting this part of the world has been a dream of yours, we can definitely recommend Denmark in comparison with its more expensive Scandinavian neighbors Norway, Sweden, or Finland.

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in Scandinavia

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Learn more: Backpacking in Denmark

 

We love the South American country of Argentina. A few years ago, Argentina was not considered a cheap place to travel, especially compared to some other affordable countries in South America. However, the economic situation had made the country even more appealing for people who want to go backpacking for cheap in Argentina. Nowadays it’s very easy to travel in Argentina on a budget.

When is the best time to visit Argentina?

The best time to travel to Argentina is November – February. When it’s fall and winter in the United States and Europe, it’s spring and summer down in Argentina. You’ll find unbeatable hiking conditions in Patagonia during this time of year. Spring in the Patagonian mountains is perfect for great hiking in this area.

Things to do in Argentina

The country of Argentina has something for every type of traveller: city dwellers, nature lovers, gourmet food lovers, and party-goers.

Buenos Aires

Travel Buenos Aires Argentina on a budget

When arriving in Buenos Aires, you will likely be surprised that a South American capital city can look so European. The city offers a world-class food scene, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful architecture.

Mendoza

Just 3 hours away from Buenos Aires, wine lovers will find the beautiful wine region of Mendoza. This region is the home of the world-famous full-bodied Malbec wine. Take a wine tasting tour by bike, bus, or on foot to sample different varieties.

Patagonia

Travel Patagonia Argentina on a budget

Patagonia is a dream come true for nature lovers. This beautiful region has lush forests, granite rocks, glacial lakes, and waterfalls, with stunning views from every corner. Don’t miss the city of Bariloche, also known as the Lake Tahoe of South America. This deep blue lake is famous for its Circuito Chico, a bike path that circles the lake and offers unbeatable views.

How to travel to Argentina on a budget

Before you travel to Argentina, it’s essential to plan your budget. You should, of course, take travel costs, accommodation, and food into account. Depending on the purpose of your trip, you may also want to set aside some money for museum entrances, package trips, or nights out on the town. Costs can add up quickly, especially if you feel that you want to get the most out of your journey. Luckily, cheap travel in Argentina is very possible. One main reason for that right now is that the Argentine economy is currently suffering from high inflation. This is bad news for locals, but it means that the foreign currency of visitors will go far!

Once you are in the country, there are many options that will help you stick to your budget. Most cities are easy to navigate by walking or with public transportation. In the cities in the north, like Buenos Aires and Mendoza, biking is also a viable option for getting around.

How to get cheap flights to Argentina

Find cheap flights to Argentina

The highest cost of your trip will probably be the cost of getting there by flight. Luckily, there are many ways to find options for cheap travel to Argentina. One of the best insider tips that we have to get a cheap flight is to sign up for a credit card that will allow you to earn points for your trip. The most important part of signing up for a new card is that many credit cards even offer a signing bonus in the form of credit card points, which you can use to purchase your flight. In fact, if you sign up for a new credit card at the right time, you can pay for your entire flight.

How to find cheap flights within Argentina

For travelling between cities in Argentina, you can travel for cheap by using a combination of flights and long-distance buses. Since Argentina covers a considerable distance, you can travel long distances on budget by using the website Despegar. This website is what the locals use. The site sells tickets at a discount because the Argentine government subsidizes some flight fares. Keep in mind that you may need to prove citizenship in Argentina, and if you are unable to verify this, you may need to pay the full price for the ticket before boarding your flight.

If you’re flying to Argentina or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travelers. On average, we have found the cheap flights to Argentina with them compared to the other websites out there.

Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Argentina to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.

Travel by long-distance bus

Long-distance buses are a popular way to cover vast distances and travel for cheap in Argentina. The buses are usually very comfortable, and some even offer sleeping pods. The long-distance buses are very affordable, and if you take a night bus, you will save the accommodation for the night. Most travellers have reported that it is worth getting the first-class ticket, which is still quite affordable. The buses even come with an attendant who will serve food and sometimes organize games to keep the passengers entertained! On our bus ride from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, we played a game of Bingo, and the winner received a bottle of wine!

One more thing to be said about bus travel is that you will be amazed by the sheer size of the country and the breathtaking landscape that you pass by. Even if budget is not a concern, travelling on a 14+ hour bus ride in Argentina is a fun life experience.

Meet fellow budget travellers in Argentina

Though part of the fun of backpacking Argentina is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Argentina alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travelers. Their most popular trips in Argentina are their 14-day End of the Earth Patagonia tour including Argentina and Chile, and their 19-day Patagonia Hiking trek.

How to find cheap accommodation while travelling in Argentina

Travel in Argentina on a budget by staying in hostels

It’s possible to find cheap accommodation while travelling in Argentina by using a combination of couch surfing, camping, and staying in hostels. This will help keep travel costs low while travelling around Argentina.

Couchsurfing

By far, the cheapest accommodation is Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is entirely free and is also a great way to meet locals who will usually show you around their city or help integrate you into their everyday life. It’s like having a free tour guide and a built-in friend in a new place.

Camping

Especially in Patagonia, camping is a popular way to find a free place to sleep. Most of the Argentine national parks have Camping Libre facilities. These camping sites are completely free, usually with plumbing facilities for campers.

Hostels

Of course, when it comes to accommodation, the cheapest way to travel in Argentina is to stay in hostels. You can expect to pay between $12 and $20 on average for a bed in a hostel dorm room. Private rooms in a hostel can cost about $25-$30 per night. Hostels are not only a great way to save money, but also a social experience. You might even learn some more travel tricks for travel in Argentina by chatting with fellow budget travellers in the hostels. We have had good experiences finding hostels in Argentina on HostelWorld. They have the most extensive inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.

Discounts on Hotels

Another good way to find cheap accommodation in Argentina is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll find not only budget hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.

 

How to travel argentina on a budget

Listing your place on Airbnb can be a great way to make extra income when you are out of town. Over time, we have perfected our system for hosting on Airbnb. This Airbnb hosting checklist is catered to people who are renting out their permanent home on Airbnb. We are not one of those corporate companies that buy an empty apartment to rent professionally.

Requirements for hosting our place on Airbnb

We started listing our 1-bedroom apartment on Airbnb for times when we are away. Not only has it helped us supplement our travel budget, but we also love knowing that our apartment is being put to use by fellow travelers! And hosting has proven to be a great way to keep on top of the deep-cleaning tasks that we used to dread. Somehow, scrubbing the toilet in preparation for a guest makes it feel less like a dreaded household chore! First off, a note about why we felt we were well-suited for Airbnb. These are not strict requirements but helps us provide the best guest experience for our guests.

An owner’s closet

Although Airbnb is a community built on trust, we felt it was a requirement to have a lockable location for valuables, documents, and personal clutter. Not only does it give us peace of mind, but it also helps to reduce the clutter for guests to make them feel at home. We store the following items in the owner’s closet:

  • Personal documents
  • Electronics and electronic cords
  • Bathroom and shower clutter. Bathroom counter-tops, shelves, and the shower should generally be free of personal items
  • Bedroom clutter. We don’t clear out our closets, but we do remove most personal clutter from shelves and surfaces
  • Extra coats and shoes that are normally in the entry-way
  • Laundry and laundry baskets.

Easy to follow directions for locating the apartment

Our apartment is centrally located in Munich with easy access to public transport. We think that the location of our apartment is part of the reason why we have received such positive reviews on Airbnb. Travelers might rent a car, but more likely they want an apartment that is easy to access when visiting a city.

A well-stocked kitchen

We have received positive reviews about how our kitchen is well-equipped to prepare meals at home. The ability to prepare meals is one of the reasons why people choose Airbnb over hotels, so make sure your kitchen enables them to do so.

A lockbox

Since we rent our place when we are out of town, often times we are unable to greet our guests personally. Initially, we asked a friend to meet our guests, but purchasing a lockbox was a game-changer. Now we can just send the guests detailed photo instructions for how to get in to the apartment using the lockbox. This also gives them complete flexibility on their arrival time. We have this one, it’s weatherproof and we just lock it to one of our bike’s in the back garden for guests.

Airbnb Hosting Shopping List

airbnb hosting welcome shopping list

We like to leave a few special touches for our guests. Small details show the guests you care about hospitality and these items won’t break the bank! A couple of days before check-in, we make a grocery store run to make sure we have a few things in the house. Here’s our Airbnb shopping list:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Olive oil
  • English muffins/small pack of bread
  • Baby Bell Cheese (universally loved and good for individual snacking)
  • Small jar of jam
  • Couple local beers or a small bottle of local wine
  • Chocolate for the pillow (we love the small Lindt truffles!)
  • Travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel)
  • Extra toilet paper

One day before Check-in: Airbnb Hosting Checklist

airbnb host preparation checklist

  • Send a check-in note to the guest
  • Bathroom and bedroom clutter moved to the owner’s closet
  • Electronics and documents moved to the owner’s closet
  • Entryway coats and shoes moved to the owner’s closet
  • Turn on the guest fridge (we happen to have a small, spare fridge that we cleared out for our guests’ use)
  • Double-check guest sheets and towels are clean, if not, do laundry
  • Stock the guest fridge (see shopping list above)
  • Clean the water boiler (we live in Germany where the calcium builds up over time. A bit of vinegar solves this very quickly!)
  • Take out recycling and bring glass bottles away
  • Refresh kitchen labels if needed (we label our trash, and cabinetry to help our guests find the essentials)
  • Dust all surfaces
  • Deep clean toilet
  • Deep clean shower
  • Vacuum
  • Run the dishwasher
  • Set up the coffee/tea station

Day of Check-in: Airbnb Hosting Checklist

airbnb hosting checklist and welcome note

On the day of check-in, you should only have a few things left to do as you prepare to welcome your guests

  • Change the sheets
  • Our towels removed from the bathroom and kitchen and stored in the owner’s closet
  • Guest towels, toiletries, and chocolate on the bed
  • Fresh kitchen towel in the kitchen
  • One last scrub of the toilet
  • One last shower clean
  • Leave a welcome note on the coffee table
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Water plants
  • Leave 2 rolls of fresh toilet paper on bathroom shelves
  • Take the trash out, replace bags
  • Lock the owner’s closet
  • Leave the key in the lockbox

That’s it for our Airbnb hosting checklist! Hopefully, this will help you get started as a host on Airbnb.

 

Ultimate Airbnb Hosting Checklist

Airbnb Hosting Checklist