Budget travel has been around for a while. For quite some time, travelers have been scouring the world for the next best destination, often heading out on what The Lonely Planet used to call a shoestring budget. Nowadays “digital nomads” fill forums with tales of where you can live like a king on next to nothing, although that’s obviously an exaggeration. But today we’ll show you how to travel cheap, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Where can you still live on 10 dollars day?
Firstly, we should say that we acknowledge that there are plenty of people in poorer countries living on less than ten dollars a day. As you can see from our intro, this is not a show on the world’s most impoverished nations – we’ve already done that. This is a show letting you know where you can take off and live, albeit frugally, on just ten bucks a day.
According to Forbes, Bangkok is the most visited city in the world by tourists and has been on and off for years. The budget-minded traveler usually doesn’t stay long as Bangkok can be as expensive as any city in the west, if you want it to be. Travelers might go up north to Chiang Mai, a destination often in the top ten of best cities in the world to visit, and more often they go to the beach. But can you live on ten bucks a day without having to resort to ‘begpacking’? Well, if you go to Bunchun Hostel in Chiang Mai next August, you can stay there for 120 baht a night, or about $3.80. A street vendor will sell you a delicious rice dish for about a dollar, or even less, so three meals a day brings you up to $6.80. A shared taxi or Uber can get you across town for a dollar, and you still have enough left for a beer at night. It won’t be easy, but you can get by in Travel and Leisure’s 3rd best city in the world to visit for a mere 10 bucks a day.
What about India? The website “thebrokebackpacker.com” tells us that you could get by in India for as little as five bucks a day. How is that possible? The site tells us you can get your own room, not a shared hostel room, for as little as 2 dollars a night. They added that some are “dodgy”. Getting around by bus is very cheap, and according to globalprice.com you can get a cup of tea for 16 cents, a Thali for 94 cents and a stuffed pancake (masala dosa) for less than a dollar. So, you can eat enough in a day, but like Thailand, you’ll be living without much nighttime entertainment.
Staying in Asia, Cambodia is another amazing destination. A contributor and expert budget traveler writing for The Huffington Post wrote that in the country it’s easy to find a hostel for $2 a night. For $5 you can get a room for yourself. He said he spent $1 per meal, and sometimes $2 for dinner. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to enter the famous Angkor Wat as that will set you back $37 for a one-day pass. Stay in the capital Phnom Penh, and you can easily get by on less than $10 a day. Nearby, Vietnam and Laos can also be done on a shoestring budget, with the former being slightly more challenging.
What about outside of Asia? It can be more difficult, but here we should add that couch surfing is possible all over the world. This is where a host puts you up for free, but most of the time that only means the room is free. Check out couchsurfing.com and join. Once that’s done you are on your way to saving tons of money. Blogger Nomadic Matt says that he traveled all over the world on less than 10 bucks a day, but admits most of the time he was couch surfing. He says, “I bought food in supermarkets and cooked by myself or with my hosts, never drank in bars but in parks.” He also hitchhiked when traveling.
But, can you possibly visit Europe on a 10-buck budget? According to a 2017 article in Time magazine, yes, you can. The article states that a room for a night in Ukraine can be as little as $3.09, but you’ll pay slightly more for a meal in a cheap restaurant. It’s looks like you’ll be shopping at the supermarket. You might also get two rather unhealthy Big Mac meals per day, each costing $2.63, according to Expatisan. You can get a monthly public transport ticket for $12, so if you are supermarket shopping you will still have enough money to buy a couple of 58 cent beers for the end of the day.
What about seeing the Pyramids of Giza on less than 10 bucks a day? Well, it will cost you over 6 bucks to see them, so you might have to save for that day out. Tripadvisor tells us there are loads of buses from Cairo to the Giza Pyramids and the trip will cost you 2 bucks. One writer said he was staying in a Cairo hostel for $2.21 per night, and while restaurants are probably outside your budget at over 3 bucks for a cheap meal, he spent days gouging on falafel, bread, and chips for only 50 cents a time. Again, this could be much cheaper if you couch surf and shop in the supermarket, but even if you don’t it’s doable on 10 dollars a day.
Ok, but we haven’t mentioned the beach yet, and so many of you have paradise in mind for 10 bucks a day. Some of the countries above, notably India, Thailand and Cambodia, have beach destinations for that price if you choose the cheapest hostels. You can forget couch surfing most of the time near the beach, and another thing to bear in mind is the lack of supermarkets or even street food on more remote islands. But if you venture out you will find where all the locals eat, the hotel staff, or even the fisherman and the laborers. The latter will be living on much less than you. Just ask them, or follow the road to the local village that is sometimes hidden from tourists.
We looked on booking sites for the cheapest hostels in Bali, and if you go later this year you can get a bed at the Morotai Camp Hostel for $4.47, but you might be sharing that room with three others. You’ll get free wi-fi, free coffee and water, and importantly a shared kitchen with all facilities. You can also get a bicycle to use. We looked to see if there is a nearby supermarket, and indeed there is. Although, a cheap street stall will sell you something for $2, and a small beer will cost you the same. So, stick with the local “warungs” – small family run food stalls, and you can eat cheap. The markets are obviously cheaper as the warungs buy from them.
So, there you go, you can stay in paradise, visit some of the world’s greatest sites, walk through ancient temples or just watch the world go by from your chair at a local restaurant, all for less than 10 bucks a day.
Then again, if you couch surf, you could even stay in London, do all your shopping at the budget supermarket Aldi, and still survive. For less than 2 dollars you can buy a loaf of bread and a pack of ham at Aldi. For $2.40 you can get a frozen pizza if you want diversity for dinner. Admittedly, you’d have to walk everywhere and the only partying you’d be doing is quaffing dubious discount drinks from your host’s back garden. Why not go crazy and buy four large cans of Taurus dry cider for $2.68.
Have you ever traveled on less than 10 bucks a day? If so, tell is how you did it in the comments.