Cheap travel is not exactly a “secret”, but many people seem very surprised to hear that in most of the countries I visit, I spend less than $30 (sometimes much less) for a nice room with ensuite bathroom. How?

Simply by travelling to developing countries where my money goes a lot further. “But isn’t this hard/dangerous/nasty?” I can hear some of you ask. Well, it all depends where you go, and how prepared you are.

Know where to go

Two regions that are especially kind to the independent budget traveller are Latin America (including Mexico, Central America and South America) and Southeast Asia. These regions are relatively stable and easy to travel through, and lend themselves well to long-term overland travel. As an additional benefit, they are friendly and safe for women travellers. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, they are very affordable.

For example Thailand, one of the most popular countries in the developing world, let’s you have a full meal for $3-$5. Even by eating in air-conditioned restaurants and drinking lattes, you would be hard-pressed to spend more than $15 on food and drinks in a day. In most of those countries, transportation is also cheap, costing from a few dollars for a taxi ride in town, to as little as $1 per hour for comfortable inter-city buses.

It should be no surprise then, that on my long winter escapades, my daily budget is $50/day. It could be even less, but at my age, I like my comfort and won’t skimp on food! On most days I’ll even indulge in a morning cappuccino and an evening beer!

Know how to go

Have you considered saving up some vacation time, and cutting 4 or 6 weeks out of the winter by going to Ecuador and Colombia for example, or Thailand and Laos? The cost of spending 6 weeks in those countries (international airfare excluded) will be about the same as spending 2 weeks in Europe! Latin America and Southeast Asia lend themselves well to long term travel given the long distances involved, the airfare, and the initial culture shock. However, if two weeks is all the time you have, this is also perfectly feasible, especially if you limit yourself to a single country.

And why not plan your own trip instead of blindly booking a package tour? Travelling independently means that you can see what you want, when you want, and for as long as you want. By “independently” I don’t necessarily mean “alone”, I mean without the support of a package tour. Even the cheapest group tours will double your daily costs.

Learn more

To help you do just that, I wrote two e-books answering the question of how to travel independently (cheaply and safely) through Latin America and Southeast Asia. Here are the things you will learn in these e-books:

  • How developing countries are different, and where the challenges lie
  • Where to go, based on how much time and money you have, time of year you want to travel, and other considerations
  •  How to design your own (realistic) itinerary
  •  Which vaccinations and medications to get
  •  Whether or not you need visas and how to get them
  •  How to research your destinations to make the most of them
  •  How to approximate how much the trip will cost you and establish a budget
  •  What to pack to travel light
  •  How to find and book accommodation while on the road
  •  What to expect from the food in those regions
  •  How to book your own transportation between point A and B
  •  The myths of solo travel, and why you should try it
  •  How to get over your fear of foreign languages
  •  How to deal with foreign currencies and how not to run out of money
  •  How to use your appliances and electronics efficiently while travelling
  •  How to protect yourself and your belongings, and stay safe

Buy now, or read more about the e-books here: Latin America | Southeast Asia.

You can also check out Tim Leffel’s Cheapest Destinations blog for more ideas on the best destinations to travel and live for less money.

(Note: the comments below were a response to the original questions in this post about the viability of the e-books idea.)

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