Looking out of the window to see rain lashing the panes, frost kissing the roofs of houses and cars and hearing those winds howling can be depressing. Winter may bring the holidays and the festive season along with all the delicious comfort foods you could want, but having to brave harsh weather while you shop? Not so fun! Daydreaming about far-flung locations full of white-sugar beaches, crashing oceans and sunbeams that tan your skin to perfection is the favoured past time for most people. You may well have been to some of the most tropical locations across the globe. You may well have jostled for position in front of the Mona Lisa to get the best selfie. The thing is, that wanderlust that once dragged you around on your gap year hasn’t gone away. It’s very much there and yet heading to exotic locations full of beautiful sights and even tastier food is harder when you’re on a tight budget.
You want to book vacations in great locations but you want the best value for your money at the same time. Often, the best and brightest vacation ideas with the clearest oceans and softest sand are expensive. Long-haul vacations are always more expensive than short-haul, and the reason for this is purely distance. The further you travel, the pricier it’ll be to get there. Sure, you could save your cash and recreate your own exotic vacation from home, complete with a seafood order from citarella.com to get those fresh flavours you so crave. You could put in a tanning bulb and stick your feet in a bucket of sand while playing wave sounds – but it’s just not quite the same! This won’t get rid of the desperate need to travel and see new places, breathe new air. So, the trick is to find the best destinations with the cheapest price tag – and we’ve got some of those for you below.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
There is so much more to Mexico than the places that are splashed across the travel brochures. Sure, you’re looking for the beaches and the food and the culture, but going to the tourist traps often just gets you the same food in a different place, with a little sunshine on top. Puerto Escondido is a town that was populated by surfers and the prices you will find reflect the reality of life in Mexico, rather than the completely over-inflated tourist version you find online. There are plenty of places to stay on a budget, and the authentic Mexican tacos can be found inexpensively. There’s no need to go to a tourist trap to enjoy a Mexican experience!
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a beautiful country that is well-known for its city break popularity. It’s one of the least expensive places to visit in Europe, and because of this it is vastly underrated. People bypass the cobblestoned charm and the tall, towering castles full of history and culture for the islands of Greece or the cities of Italy. Veliko Tarnovo, however, has so much to offer. Hiking for the adventure seekers in the hilly terrains edging the town, and there are places to see in the town itself that offer food and drink at amazingly cheap rates. There is so much history steeped here, that those looking for something more than just a beach and an ocean will find it. Nightly light shows that light up the ruins of a medieval stronghold would usually be expensive and really bust your budget. Not here. Not in Veliko Tarnovo.
The place to visit to find oneself has always been Goa. Popular for tourists, hippies and those looking to find their inner calm, Goa has grown up significantly over the past twenty years. The attraction of the area hasn’t changed, and neither has the rock bottom prices on offer here. However, you can still see the Arabian Sea in all its calm glory. You can still choose between ancient temples, casinos and beaches full of soft white sand. Nobody misses out when it comes to visiting Goa. You don’t have to be draped in sarongs and get high off of life to enjoy yourself – come as you are, everyone is invited.
You’ve heard the stories of vampires and Dracula, but Transylvania is so much more than its stories. Ruins that date back for hundreds of years, hiking trails that are on offer to all those looking for a challenge and vineyards full of white wine that will literally have your taste buds dancing. Transylvania is a place for those who want authenticity, exotic food choices and something off the beaten track. It’s not somewhere that is thrust in your face when you are looking for a break, but it’s somewhere you should consider when you want a change. Not to mention, Transylvania is excellent value for money, meaning you can squeeze a lot of what you fancy into a vacation that won’t cost the earth.
Selva Negra, Northern Nicaragua
If you haven’t heard of the cloud forest, you need to start doing your research. Selva Negra is a 300-acre nature reserve that is perfect for hiking. Unplug from life and start your vacation hiking the steep hills to the top to see the blanket of moist cloud laying just beneath you. There is a coffee plantation right at the edge of the forest, and that combined with getting stuck into nature are a brilliant way to simply unwind from the working week. You won’t have to pay through the nose for accommodation, either, with options at the Ecolodge starting low.
Getting away somewhere unheard of isn’t the difficult bit – coming home is. Once you get a taste of places that are new and budget-friendly, it’s hard not to be bitten by the travel bug all over again. Don’t worry though, with places being so cheap, you’ll want to be bitten so that you can get a different perspective of the world – wherever you choose to go.