As we travel, we are always on the look out for countries that are low cost, interesting and safe. Sometimes our home currency works against us and other times it works for us. Either way, we are looking for more bangs for the buck. Right?

We have learnt to slow down our travel, maximizing our visa stay, living more like a local everywhere we go and house sitting when we choose. We shop at local green markets and, where possible, stay away from the big grocery chains, giving our money to the locals.

When we are not house sitting, we stay in hostels (private rooms with en-suite bathrooms), small hotels and apartments. Once we even stayed in a Bedouin Tent in Petra, Jordan.

 
 

Whilst this list does not represent all of our lowest cost countries and cities, we have chosen these to share global and local experiences that can be gained when traveling far away from our home base and traveling more slowly.

Laos – Vientiane

Laos – Vientiane

Why should you go?

When you visit Laos you experience the old Asia first hand. Vientiane, the colonial capital, offers so much to the visitor – temples, monuments, markets and a bustling riverfront promenade, which comes alive at sunset.

Head down to the river at sunset and wander through the night market. Watch the locals dance and hula hoop. Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure from the mobile manicurists or enjoy locally cooked food from the stalls. The choices are endless!

What did we pay?

  • Double room with ensuite bathroom, including breakfast, in the centre of town: $21 per night.
  • Coffee for two: $4
  • 4 Beers: $4
  • Dinner at local Indian Restaurant (4 beers, starter and main for two): $13

Thailand – Chiang Mai

Thailand - Chiang Mai

Why should you go?

Thailand’s second city, Chiang Mai, is a colourful, happy, friendly city, situated on the banks of the Mai Ping River.

If you like markets, this is the place to visit. The bustling Night Bazaar and the Sunday Market will send you into a shopping frenzy – that is, if you have left a lot of space in your luggage (which we advise you to!)

Food is amazingly cheap and one of our favourite highlights is the local famous dish of Khao Soi. Have you tried it? If food and cooking is your passion, why not try a local cooking class!

What did we pay?

  • Boutique accommodation over Christmas: $101 per night
  • Double room accommodation with ensuite and breakfast included $52, after Christmas
  • Dinner for two, starter and main course with 2 beers each $20
  • Coffee for two: $3

Turkey – Fethiye

Turkey – Fethiye

Why should you go?

We travelled throughout Turkey for a month and one of the lowest costs cities we visited was Fethiye.

Boasting one of the best marinas in Turkey, Fethiye has a lot to offer the traveller, from island day cruises and beaches to the daily fish market where you can choose your own fish and have it cooked at one of the local restaurants.

The Lycian Tombs, situated in the mountain behind Fethiye, is worth a visit, not just for the views, but, also for its archaeological significance.

Do not miss the old town with its market and the many carpet and souvenir shops. Stop and enjoy a mint tea while you chat with the carpet shop owners. There is no obligation to buy.

We recommend also tasting the local “gozelme”, a flat bread either filled with spinach and ricotta or meat.

What we paid?

  • Double room with ensuite at a 3 star hotel: $30 per night
  • Dinner for two, starter and main course with 2 beers each: $20
  • Coffee for two: $3

Mexico – San Miguel de Allende

Mexico – San Miguel de Allende

Why should you go?

San Miguel de Allende is a colourful colonial city with so much to offer. Highlights include the architecture, buildings scene and, of course, the food. We can still smell the local artisan bread baking in the oven of our favourite bread shop.

The free “Walking and Shopping Guide of San Miguel de Allende” is a must for any visitor. It can be found in most boutiques and homeware shops. It offers 10 free walking tours that you can do on your own that includes local shops, restaurants and galleries to visit along the way.

If you plan to visit San Miguel de Allende on a Sunday, be sure not to miss the House and Garden Tour from the Biblioteca. For $20 per person, you can visit the many colonial haciendas in and around San Miguel de Allende. Book in advance.

What did we pay?

  • We had no accommodation costs as we were house sitting. That said, 3-star hotel accommodation starts from $50 per night
  • Dinner for two with 4 beers, starter and main course: $30
  • Coffee for two: $4

Nicaragua – Ometepe Island

Nicaragua – Ometepe Island

Why should you go?

This is one of the most unique places we have visited in the world. Two volcanoes – one active and one dormant – are situated on an island in the 19th largest fresh water lake in the world – Lake Nicaragua. You can even swim in the warm waters of the lake while viewing the two volcanoes to the left and right of you at Santa Cruz Beach.

The island boasts over 1700 petroglyphs, natural springs and hikes up the volcanoes. The restaurants serve local fish from the lake and the story goes, if you try the local fish Guapote on the first night, you will return to the island.

The locals live a simple life and cows, horses and pigs have right a way on the roads. Mattress salesmen walk the one road around the island selling mattresses that they are carrying on their backs.

What we paid?

  • We had no accommodation costs as we were housesitting. As an example 2 to 3-star accommodation starts from $30 per night
  • Dinner for two with 4 beers, starter and main course of the Guapote fish: $30
  • Coffee for two: $3

Peru – Cusco

Peru – Cusco

Why should you go?

Situated at 3,400 metres above sea level, Cusco will leave you breathless, literally. The impressive World Heritage Site is a good base for a visit to Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo and the local Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman.

Plaza de Armas is the cultural centre of Cusco, where you can wander around the Spanish colonial buildings, visit the cathedral and enjoy at different times of the year local tribal celebrations.

Wander through the San Pedro Market, eat cheaply at the food stalls and shop for souvenirs.

Try Pisco Sour, the local spirit that goes down too smoothly, we recommend you limit your intake of this one.

What did we pay?

  • A double room with ensuite and breakfast in the historical San Blas area of Cusco costs $50 per night
  • Dinner for two with 4 beers starter and main course: $19
  • Coffee for two: $3

So, there you have it. As you can see, there are still plenty of amazing places in the world that you can see, while saving money along the way. The hardest thing may be choosing which one to visit first!

Have you visited any of the countries mentioned in this article? Which ones? Are there any other locations, exotic or otherwise, that you would recommend to the women in our community? Please join the conversation.

Jane and Duncan Dempster-SmithJane and Duncan Dempster-Smith are nomadic semi-retirees, baby boomers, travellers, House Sitters and co-founders of To Travel Too. Their motto is “Age is no barrier when it comes to travel.” Although not yet pensioners, their goal is to travel the world on what is currently the Australian Age Pension of approx. AUD 33,716 (USD 25,110) per year, or AUD 92 (USD 69) per day for two people.

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