Use your holiday budget wisely: exciting destinations on the cheap
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The words “budget travel” often conjure up visions of dingy hostel dorms or uniform package resorts on the Spanish coast. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend your last penny or sell your soul to get an exciting holiday on the cheap these days. Many alternative and unusual destinations are overlooked and underwhelmed by tourism, meaning you can soak up some incredible sights at a fraction of the cost. Here are a few ideas on how to use your budget to try somewhere a bit different this year. Many destinations are available through comparison sites such as dealchecker.co.uk, which is a good starting point.
Morocco is a steal of a holiday destination, when you consider that a relatively short flight time can land you in another continent and a whole other world. While Marrakech is well-documented, beach resorts like Essaouira to the west are not, despite this fortified township being on the UNESCO list. Great for watersports like windsurfing, Essaouira has a casual, backpacker-style ambience while still being family-friendly. Bargain for your grocery shopping to save money and soak up the unique experiences of the street markets and fishing harbours.
Many people are opening up to the possibility of travel in Eastern Europe, tempted by the travel deals, cheap flights and frankly astonishing beer prices. But destinations like Montenegro are also undiscovered gems, where the beaches are just as beautiful as Mediterranean favourites like Italy and the lush inland valleys and forests provide endless natural wealth that you don’t have to pay for. The wider Balkans region is worth some investigation as well, with low-cost bus travel enabling you to take in historic treasures like Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina and eat out for a few pounds a day in Serbia’s Belgrade.
Families seeking a beach retreat in Turkey without the mark-up can do no better than the Lycian Coast, curving out into the Mediterranean, south-west of Antalya. Small, quiet hamlets are your destination here, a world away from the brash resorts of the Bodrum Peninsula. With unusual – and low-cost – accommodation options from beach huts to treehouses around the Olympus Valley, as well as plenty of traditional eateries and the chance to spot nesting sea-turtles in places like Cirali, this is a paradise at a much lower price than you might expect.
If you’re after the long-haul and don’t think it’s possible on a budget, target Bolivia. The capital of La Paz is set high in the Andes and has all the panoramic views you might expect, but the good news is you don’t have to fork out to see them. Of course, flights might take up more of your budget but once you arrive, living costs are so low in Bolivia as a whole that you can still squeeze in once-in-a-lifetime trips to lakes teeming with flamingos, to salt flats and to the otherworldly stalagmites of Moon Valley. Even organised tours into the Amazon rainforest are surprisingly good value here.
It’s definitely possible to think big, unusual or off-beat while still cutting the costs on holiday. While the more traditional options like last-minute deals and all-inclusive are not to be sniffed at, it can be much more rewarding to make your travel budget stretch further; so long as you plan your destination wisely, underrated cities, alternative beach escapes and even jungle adventures are all out there for the taking.