Start making preparations: 2018 is looking to be a great year for budget travel. According to an American Express global business travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2018 and not to mention the dollar is on the rise.
This means your money can get you much further in many destinations around the globe. Now where is the place to be for your next trip? You'll see in a second. But first grab your travel bag, Wanderlust shirt, Wanderlust hat and get ready to take off from the tarmac.
Now let's dive into the top 30 cheapest places to travel in 2018.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
What makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations? Because the current exchange rate is $1 to 20.69 Mexican pesos! Those who wants to enjoy more culture then Mazatlan is the place for you. It’s the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, it is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes.
Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are very affordable. You can check out El Cid Marina with its awesome pools that are perfect for families, with great food and huge rooms as well. Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.
You can also enjoy fine dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you’d pay in the United States. Mazatlan is under the State of Sinaloa which grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so the produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. And this is reflected from the top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
Travel Expert: Holly Johnson, founder of Club Thrifty, a website with tips on travel savings whose motto is “Stop spending. Start living”
2. South Africa
What makes South Africa a place to be for travelers? The exchange rate is in our favor, and so is the fact that it’s considered a developed tourist destination. Going around for over a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day which I consider a major win. Hotels are cheaper as well.
For a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, cost $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room with a similar luxury costs $266. In major cities you can rely on private villa rentals to be cheap as well.
Flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly so it’s best to consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings. I think the best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced wine for less than the cost of a can of soda.
Travel Expert: Michaela Guzy, founder of Oh The People You Meet, a global collaborative of contributors who create content for travelers, foodies and philanthropists seeking authentic local connections.
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
What’s the best way to get a deal in the Caribbean? To travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent flights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren’t euro-based.
San Juan, Puerto Rico is just the place to be, and I’m a big fan. San Juan oozes its charm in a way that you will not need car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it’s not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there’s no money lost on currency exchange.
Travel Expert: Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, founder of Jet Set Sarah, where travel and shopping meet.
Why is South America a destination that has long given travelers great value for their money? In Chile, we can appreciate Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city.
For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world. The beauty of the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy and very affordable to rent a car and explore this area. With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
Everything just fits the BUDGET! It’s like one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it’s so special that I can’t. Travel Expert: Annie Fitzsimmons, digital editor at Virtuoso and editor-at-large at National Geographic.
What’s so beautiful about the island of Crete? Crete is a foodie dream come true. A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right!
With truly stunning natural beauty like Balos beach and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time. Budget wise, due to the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe. Crete is the place to be.
Travel Expert: Meagen Collins, co-founder of Food Fun Travel, traveling the world in search of the ultimate foodie vacation experiences and discovering food worth traveling for in 85+ countries and counting.
Why is Morocco considered the ultimate dream trip? Although cost seem to turn most travelers off. Morocco is one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. Reaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is just the place to be, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there’s something to fit everyone’s budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Travel Expert: Lucie Josma, @missjetsetter, a full-time photographer, content creator and social media manager specializing in travel and tourism.
What ticks in Belize? Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It’s a perfect place to be for a budget romantic vacation. Delicious meals at crazy cheap prices. Two people can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their affordable rates, as well as Belize’s excellent local wines. You can go to affordable resorts like George Hardie’s Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the Oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Travel Expert: Shereen Rayle, founder of ShereenTravelsCheap.com, which shows you how to go farther and do more for less without sacrificing comfort or fun.
What makes Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations? Affordable upscale and safe accommodations to fit everyone’s budget and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights. Check out the Tirant Hotel in Hanoi, where you can get a room for less than $70 a night. Take the Hanoi street food tour:
For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths. You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming “pho” noodle soup.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, ride a kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. Budget-friendly Vietnam is the place to be.
Travel Expert: Marybeth Bond, National Geographic writer, author, adventurer and founder of The Gutsy Traveler.
9. Costa Rica
What makes Costa Rica an incredible place to be? Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. There’s a lot of national parks like Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks to explore, that only cost a few dollars to enter.
Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won’t cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Public transport is also very cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and that means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
The budget accommodation in Costa Rica is super affordable that even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a “plato tipico” (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3. Definitely incredible!
Travel Expert: Stephanie Parker, founder of Big World Small Pockets, created to showcase the highs and lows of happy, healthy budget travel. Its motto: Spend Less, Travel More!
Why is Portugal considered a pocket of affordable travel? Contrary to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads where you can also avoid tolls.
You can come across a bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its “California Highway 1 meets Tuscany” landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget! With the dollar on the rise against the euro, Portugal is very much affordable.
Travel Expert: Jacki Nourse, founder of TheBudgetMindedTraveler which inspires and equips Americans to get into the world of travel in a realistic, affordable, and most of all rewarding way.
What can Ecuador offer? A variety of places to go to; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s just so much to see and do in Ecuador.
It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and the accommodations are pretty cheap as well. You can shop at your local market and get a week’s worth of groceries for $10.
The bus systems are good and plenty of affordable domestic flights. Find a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Travel Expert: Nora Dunn, The Professional Hobo, a woman who sold everything she owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in 2006 to embrace her dreams of full-time travel.
Why is Barcelona ranked as one of the most popular European cities? Compared to cities like Paris and London, it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Indulge yourself in a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market. And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it’s also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
Travel Expert: Nastasia Yakoub, founder of Dame Traveler, sharing her passion for travel with a sizable community of female travelers.
What can Guatemala offer to travelers? Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it’s a bit more “off the path” in the region, it’s also easy on the budget and a nice place to lavish.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you’d pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country’s unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
You can also check out the Lush Atitlan Hotel, a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan’s villages.
Travel Expert: Shannon O’Donnell, National Geographic Traveler of the Year and founder of ALittleAdrift.com
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why go to Bonaire and Curaçao? Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone’s Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Lots of affordable vacation villas that let you live like a local on both islands. Chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao as well as in Bonaire when they got their very first chain hotel when a Marriott Courtyard opened.
Travel Expert: Melinda Crow, founder of FirstRead.Me, whose motto is “Go more. Experience more. Enjoy it More.”
15. Las Vegas
What’s free in Las Vegas? If you stay away from slot machines and casinos, there are lots of free stuff you can do in Vegas: Let’s take for example the Flamingo’s flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park, these are just a few.
You can also find many places to eat at very affordable prices. And if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Travel Expert: Shereen Rayle of ShereenTravelsCheap.com
What’s in Cambodia? It is a culturally rich kingdom. Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. This means that for international travelers your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. You can ride Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and find food that only cost pennies.
Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are pretty cheap compared to other Asian destinations. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a one-on-one with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Also you can check out luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a big role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees.
Travel Expert: Michaela Guzy of Oh The People You Meet
What value can you get out of Bali? If you’re looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. Checking with Airbnb and you can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night.
However, if you want a lavishing experience on a tight budget, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are pretty cheap compared to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Travel Expert: Nastasia Yakoub of Dame Traveler
How affordable can Greece be? The weakened euro and the struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food that Greece is the place to be.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100. You can check out the 360 Degrees Hotel, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. You can even pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are crazy cheap in Greece. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks like Mythos or Ouzo, appetizers like Saganaki and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you’d pay in the States.
Travel Expert: Holly Johnson of Club Thrifty
What can we do in Albania? With great beaches along its coastline, which includes the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives budget travelers the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price.
This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise tourist-attractive and expensive continent. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are priced at very affordable rates as well.
There’s also some cheap stuff (sometimes free) that you can do in Albania like going to fascinating historical sites with very minimal cost to enter. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is truly worth visiting before the crowds do.
Travel Expert: Stephanie Parker of Big World Small Pockets
20. San Luis Potosí, México
What adventure awaits in San Luis Potosí, México? Imagine white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Still pretty much unknown to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. You got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Travel Expert: Jackie Nourse of TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com
21. Quebec City, Canada
What’s in Canada? Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. With the weaker Canadian dollar against the US, traveling north will give you 25% discount on prices.
Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town. It’s an experience of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. You can also enjoy the night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
Travel Expert: Marybeth Bond of The Gutsy Traveler
22. Buenos Aires
What to do in Buenos Aires? It’s one of the world’s most intoxicating cities, with its popularity rapidly growing. Buenos Aires is relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities.
There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food. Taxis are very affordable with only around $5-8 a ride. You can also try walking for miles in all the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo and try the Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight.
Check out the must-try budget food in Buenos Aires like the dulce de leche which is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato. With American dollars instead of a credit card, you can get better deals in many places like a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery). And on Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Travel Expert: Annie Fitzsimmons
Why Haiti? The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the expensive side of it. Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, but still draw many people to flock to this vibrant country.
Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida. The food is super affordable like lobster, conch and crab that can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
The real deal is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. For epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms, Wahoo Bay Beach is the place to be. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person.
Travel Expert: Lucie Josma, @missjetsetter
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
What to do in Santa Catalina? The island is way more than just a weekend SoCal jaunt. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
A must-visit stop to get the full story of the island’s fascinating history including its Hollywood connection is the Catalina Island Museum. Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro.
Food and shopping choices are plentiful. Hotels are pretty sweet and average under $200 per night, Avalon Hotel would be a great choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity.
Travel Expert: Melinda Crow, FirstRead.Me
Reason: How do you budget your way in Indonesia? With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel style and budget in Indonesia.
With stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving like places in Raja Ampat, where you can find a homestay that included breakfast on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night.
There’s also the fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals.
Travel Expert: Meagen Collins of Food Fun Travel
What experience can you get from Bulgaria? The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel starting with Bulgaria. From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it’s an adventure playground that every tight budget traveler can afford.
Check out Villa Melnik winery, where you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5. You can also take a hike through Bulgaria’s famous sandstone pyramids and then lodge in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
For adventure and budget combined, Bulgaria is the place to be.
Travel Expert: Jackie Nourse, TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com
27. Cusco, Peru
What to do in Cusco? Once the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is now the archaeological capital of the Americas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with colonial architecture and indigenous Quechua culture.
A stunning city oozing with culture, with accommodations ranging from $20 to $100 a night. Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, a stop for few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city is highly recommended. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
The food in Cusco are crazy cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but the real deal is the street food like the ceviche where you can’t find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco’s San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
Travel Expert: Lucie Josma, @missjetsetter
What’s in Georgia? This ancient European country being under the radar is starting to make noise to travelers from all over the world due to favorable exchange rate making it surprisingly budget friendly.
Georgia perhaps best known for its culture hospitality has so much to offer, from beautiful scenery to its unique culture and tradition, the food will also leave you drooling for more. Not to mention the fact that this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine winemaking which dates back to 8,000 years.
You got yourself the ultimate new travel destination where you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30.
That said, the food, wine, dance, and mountainscapes will wow you, too. Georgia topped the list of places in the world where you will feel most welcomed.
What to see in Mozambique? It’s one of Africa’s best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean which can be perfect for scuba diving as well.
With colorful and well-preserved coral reefs and clear, warm waters drawing plenty of snorkelers and honeymooners to its shores. It’s easy to feel like a millionaire here for nothing!
Travel Expert: Stephanie Parker of Big World Small Pockets
30. Dallas, Texas
Why Dallas? It is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer.
Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries. Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
You can check accommodations at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine which is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark. Or go with the high-rise Omni Dallas Hotel that has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, placing you in the center of the action.