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Gap Travel – 5 Countries you can Visit on a College Budget

Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a wealthy student. Well, perhaps there are some who have the benefit of coming from a wealthy family, but most of us never had much money during our university years. Recently I've been wondering, why I didn't start this whole travel thing earlier than I did, but then I remembered: right, I had no money to spare.

But had I done my homework, I may have found that there are places you can travel to even on a very limited budget. The flight is often the most expensive item, but Christmas and a birthday can help cover for that. So, do you know which place you’d want to go and if you can actually afford to do so?

I've picked out five cheap countries in different parts of the world, depending on what you are looking for. There’s culture, there’s history, there are beaches, there’s nature. Take your pick!


Beware of high altitude. La Paz is either loved or loathed, but it certainly won’t leave you indifferent. Be prepared for light headedness and shortness of breath when you first arrive. Take it easy. La Paz is the capital located at the highest altitude in the world and you will feel the thin air. You’ll be fine once you have acclimatized, mind you.

Spend some time at Lake Titicaca and Copacabana. If you want to brush up on your Spanish, Sucre is the place to hang around in and do a course. Bolivia is probably the cheapest country in this list, so staying for a while won’t eat much into your savings. Accommodation and food are easily covered with $10 a day. Travelling around is not always comfortable, because neither the roads nor the local buses are in the best shape, but cheap they are, so if you can rough it, you can see a fair bit of this high altitude country.

Do budget for a tour of the Salar de Uyuni. There’s no place like it in the world and all things considered it’s not an expensive tour compared to tours of similar length in other parts of the world. You will be left stunned by the raw beauty you will find up there. Just do it.


Ah, who hasn't seen images of Angkor Wat? It’s mystical, it’s beautiful, it’s worth a trip. But there’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat. In fact, there is more than just one big temple that gets photographed to death by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. There’s Angkor Thom with its famous smiling faces. Or how about overgrown Ta Prohm, which was made famous by the first Tomb Raider movie? And let’s not forget dainty Banteay Srei, one of the temples furthest out from Siem Reap, but well worth a visit and much less overrun than Angkor Wat itself.

Take the time to visit all the Temples of Angkor, or at least the ones mentioned above, typically considered they high lights. Remember that the magic and atmosphere of the jungle can be soaked up best when you’re away from the crowds.

Cambodia is very cheap to travel around in. You can get a room to yourself in a guesthouse, eat delicious food and get carted around in a Tuk Tuk for next to no money. If you have $20 a day, you can live like a king or a queen indeed and have money to spare.

Make sure to check out bustling Phnom Penh with its markets and pay a visit to Tuol Sleng museum and the Killing Fields. Bear witness to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and remember what the people of Cambodia have managed to overcome. The country is still healing, but they do it with grace and are most welcoming to visitors.


Another country in which you can get by with less than 20$ a day, which includes accommodation, all your food and transport. The north and the south are as different as it gets. Vietnam is ideally suited to start your visit on either end and then travel north or south, respectively. Meet its friendly people, ride pillion on a scooter whilst admiring the scenery and eat Pho for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or perhaps try some other Vietnamese dishes, they’re all good.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by Hanoi’s narrow streets and bustling activity. There’s much to take in. If you prefer it a little quieter, go into the north or travel south. You can’t go wrong, whichever direction you choose.

Halong Bay may not be in your college budget, but it is certainly a must-do in Vietnam. You get what you pay for, here more than anywhere else. If you can fork out a little extra, do treat yourself. The budget options you can get in Hanoi will get you an experience still worthwhile, but the service and the food will not be as great as on the more expensive tours.

If you like it quaint, Hoi An is the place for you. On your budget you can even get a shirt tailor made, it doesn't cost a fortune at all and is usually ready in 24 to 48 hours. And for those of you who like to party, Nha Trang is the place to be. Right by the beach in the warmer south you will not be left disappointed.

Sri Lanka

Fancy beautiful sand beaches framed by palm trees, mountains wrapped in clouds, waterfalls and tea plantations? Then Sri Lanka is the place for you to go. Staying at a beach hotel so you can take a dip in the sea first thing every morning is many a traveler's dream. In Sri Lanka it’s not just a dream, but reality. And it doesn't cost a fortune either. For $30 a day you can live quite comfortable and eat the most delicious curries.

Visit temples and ancient ruins, or take a jungle tour and observe the local wild life. Take in the bustling life of Colombo or go on a nature retreat to get back in touch with your spirituality.

Diverse Sri Lanka offers adventures for everyone. Whether you like to hike in the mountains, plunge down wild rivers, like to surf the big waves or prefer to go caving, there’s almost nothing you cannot do in Sri Lanka.

The bigger your budget, the more amazing a time you will have, but even if you can’t spend a fortune, you will be able to enjoy magnificent Sri Lanka and have the time of your life.


If you’re looking for a cheap European destination, look no further than Budapest. This historic capital right on the Danube has been long overlooked as a prime destination. Now that it has been discovered by budget airlines, you can fly there reasonably cheaply and take a stroll around this beautiful city. Food is cheap and so are train tickets, budget $10 a day and you’re set. Accommodation is not quite as cheap as it used to be, but you can get a roof over your head and a warm bed for $20 a night.

Make sure to visit the famous thermal baths and take a cruise down the Danube to get a good view of Buda and Pest. Walk yourself around historic Castle Hill or take a guided tour and walk across the Chain Bridge, which connects both parts of the city.

Europe has many fascinating cities, but few are cheaper than Budapest, so if you’re on a budget, this is where you’ll want to spend a few days to soak it all in. If it’s the only place you’ll have time and money to visit in Europe, rest assured that it is money and time well spend.

By the way, it’s quite possible to combine all of these destinations in one year gap travels by getting yourself a round-the-world ticket. With the right travel agent you can get dropped off at airports close to your preferred destinations and spend a whole year travelling cheap, whilst having some amazing experiences and seeing some of the most stunning places on Earth. Especially Cambodia and Vietnam are easily combined and you could throw in Thailand and Laos on the side, if you have the time.

Are you ready to plan your itinerary? Then what are you waiting for?

About the author


I left home eight and a half years ago to travel around the world for what I thought would be three years. I somehow ended up living a year in Melbourne, Australia, almost three years in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a year in Victoria, BC, Canada. In between I traveled slowly, but extensively. Just when I thought I’d go home and settle down for a bit, I ended up living in London working for one of the biggest online travel agencies there is. Needless to say travel holds my heart and when I finish my current trip around the world, I will have been to roughly thirty countries (“only” ten on this trip, though, seven of them for the first time). My first passion is, and always has been, writing. When I get back to Europe, I will continue to work on my freelance career, keep writing my own blogs and publish a novel one of these days, all whilst living on a houseboat, because settling down is not for me.