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Countries You Can Visit For $1000 Or Less

Countries You Can Visit For $1000

When I first started this blog three years ago, I made the claim that it’s possible to travel the world for $1000 USD or less per month. And that is a claim I still believe to be true today.

I am confident that if I averaged out the amount of money I’ve spent during all of my own travels, the figure would indeed be right around that $1000/month mark. Of course, there are countries you can visit that will require you to spend much more money, but at the same time, there are plenty of countries you can visit that will allow you to spend less, and in some cases, much less.

The question for this post is – which are the countries that can be visited or lived in for less than that $1000/month figure?

Here is my updated list based on the countries that I have visited myself. (And for those countries I haven’t been to within the past 12 months, I’ve contacted fellow travelers in order to confirm prices, so the information is as up-to-date as possible.)

Europe

Western Europe is tough to make happen on $1000/month but it can be possible if you really transform yourself into a budget traveler who is willing to cut costs wherever you can. Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, on the other hand, are a different story, offering a diverse collection of interesting countries that can be thoroughly explored for much less money. I’ve been spending a great deal of time in this region over the past year and a half myself and I am repeatedly amazed at how good of a value these countries are for travelers. Just head to some of the destinations on the below list and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. In this part of the world, accommodation can be found for less than $15/night and as low as $7/night (for a bed in a dorm room at a hostel), local meals can be eaten for $2 – $10, bus and train transportation is very reasonably priced and other activities (entrance fees) are typically less than in Western Europe as well.

Slovakia
Slovenia
Croatia
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Serbia
Montenegro
Albania
Macedonia
Bulgaria
Romania
Moldova
Estonia
Latvia

Central America & Mexico

Another region of the world that typically falls into the ‘you can travel for $1000/month’ category, you could spend months traveling around most of Central America on a tight budget. I know of many travelers who begin their adventure in a place like Guatemala and several months later, they have still yet to leave. For those interested in a relatively low-cost introduction to the Spanish-speaking world, Central America is a solid option. And if you add Mexico into the mix, you might get stuck in this region forever. Mexico is one of the most underrated countries I’ve ever spent time in. It’s an incredibly diverse land, full of friendly people, with excellent food and intriguing culture everywhere you turn (it’s also much safer than most people think) and you can experience it all quite well even as a budget traveler.

Panama
Costa Rica
Nicaragua
Honduras
El Salvador
Guatemala
Mexico

Asia

With so many countries to choose from, and with most of these countries more than ideal for budget travelers, it’s no wonder that Asia, especially Southeast Asia, is often the first stop on many travelers’ itineraries. With countries such as India and Indonesia offering some of the least expensive travel options on the planet ($500 USD per month is possible) and countries such as Thailand offering some of the best value travel experiences you can find anywhere, Asia is as good as it gets for anyone looking to travel for less than $1000 per month.

Thailand
Cambodia
Vietnam
Laos
Malaysia
Indonesia
Myanmar
Bangladesh
Nepal
Sri Lanka
India

Others

I’ve now been to South Africa twice and while my particular trips were not exactly as budget-friendly as usual, I did notice that $1000 per month would allow you to travel quite decently over there. You’d have to pay some attention to what you spend each day, and when it comes to the main attractions (ie. wildlife safaris) you’d want to check out the budget options instead of the pricier game lodges, but budget travelers in South Africa can definitely get by and have as rewarding an experience as anyone else.

Turkey is another country that can be visited for $1000 or less per month, although, that might not be true if you spend a lot of time in Istanbul, a city with prices that are on par with Western Europe. But outside Istanbul, prices drop significantly and $1000 per month is enough money to ensure you don’t end up broke after one week.

Also, over the course of this summer I hope to travel around Georgia, Azerbaijan, Poland and Lithuania, all countries where I’ve been told that $1000 is more than sufficient to travel well. I won’t be spending a full month in each place but I’ll be sure to report back after those visits to let you know how much it really does cost to travel in those areas.

So, even a few years after initially making the ‘travel on $1000 per month’ claim, much of the world can still be seen for this reasonable amount of money. Tell that to those who believe travel requires thousands and thousands of dollars and that it can’t be accomplished on such a low budget. One’s own spending habits and travel style also plays a role naturally, but if you’re able to travel simply (which is not the same as traveling in poverty as some believe), you really are able to experience the world, and benefit from that first-hand education that travel provides, for less money than you are probably spending at home.

Again, the list above consists of countries that I have personally been to so it goes without saying that there are plenty more out there that are perfect for budget travelers. And that’s why I want your input as well!

What country(s) have you traveled to or lived in for $1000 USD per month or less?

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111 Responses to Countries You Can Visit For $1000 Or Less

  1. Pingback: Asia 2013 By The Numbers (and the Dollars) | FRUGAL FROLICKER | Independent Adventure Travel

  2. Anthony says:

    Hello Claire

    Can you give me a rough idea of your itinerary? because I have in mind something similar. And what cloths did you take, did you fit them all in one back pack? because there will be a difference in weather. Also, people have been reporting that India is getting a little dangerous, I am an open minded guy, so I just don’t take these reports serious.

    I have traveled China, and Thailand and have always been welcomed.

  3. Claire says:

    Great list, India is a great budget travel destination I just returned from four months in India and Nepal and I only spent £2300 including my return flights from the UK. You can definitely travel on a budget, especially if you go out of season you have more room to barter.

  4. Phoebe says:

    hi there again earl!
    just wondering, have you been to bangkok/pattaya/hatyai in thailand? I think bangkok yes haha. But if you have been to those 3 places, dy know if it’s expensive to visit those places? thanks ia!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Phoebe – It depends on your definition of expensive and your personal travel style. All three of those places can be quite inexpensive and they could also be quite pricey depending on your needs/style.

  5. Nice list Earl, we will be hitting most of these spots on our 2 year RTW. We just did Central America top to bottom. Guatemala is totally do able for your $1000 figure, and there is a ton to see there! Amazing country, if you could pick any country in Central America, I would pick Guatemala!

  6. Luka says:

    You can easily add Iran and Bolivia on that list. Iran is as far as I’m aware one of the cheapest countries in the world at the moment. Back in autumn 2012 when I was there a street kebab cost slightly more than a dollar, and a decent dorm room could be had for as little as 3$. And if you are on a real budget and can handle sleeping in repulsive holes, there are places like Milad guesthouse in Kerman where I stayed in a single with toilet/lavatory for an amazing 3$ as well. But they didn’t have a shower in the entire building. I improvised with the water hose for cleaning your behind, oh the memories…

  7. Missy H says:

    Philippines a possibility as well anybody know? And Korea??

  8. Jade says:

    This is such a great resource!
    And I can completely agree that it is possible, particularly if you have the determination to make it work. This summer I travelled to America for the first time in a few years and was pleasantly surprised about the value for money there if you know where to look! Given that I was staying with friends, I had no accommodation costs, and thus this isn’t necessarily a $1000 a month destination but it is still not bank-breaking.

  9. This post is a great inspiration. I keep going back to it over and over. When I leave my job $1000 a month is excatly what I’ll have to live on!

  10. yeh $1000 is the number Earl – this is what I reckoned on my travels too.

    It can be easily done, especially if you’re not a big drinker

  11. Marianne says:

    We usually travel for three or four months each year, often in Australia or New Zealand which has become very expensive over recent years. We manage to keep our costs down by doing housesitting, which means that not only do we get free accommodation (usually in return for looking after pets while the home owner is away), but also we can keep our eating costs down, by having access to a kitchen, so are able to self cater.

    We spent two months housesitting in Sydney from November to January this year. Can you imagine how much that would cost if we had had to pay for accommodation over Christmas and New Year? OH and did I mention we got free use the householder’s cars while they were away, too? :)

  12. Ah this is such a brilliant post Earl and has been so helpful in trying to convince a few of my mates that it’s not all about having huge amounts of money. I think it’s the simplicity and appreciation that comes with a cheap cost of living in those sorts of countries that makes them that much more special.

  13. Owen says:

    Great list post as always Earl! I thought I might chime in with some thoughts about my favorite continent for travel, South America.

    I will definitely second Peru where one can live pretty well (in my experience, specifically in the wonderful city of Arequipa) for under $1,000. I expect you could live on $1,000/month (actually far less) almost anywhere there. This would let you see all the touristy sights and literally eat every meal in a restaurant. I haven’t spent as much time in Ecuador, but combining my experience and that of friends there, the same is possible almost everywhere there (with the exception of the Galapagos where I don’t think you can even stay for a month, if memory serves), even in Quito.

    You could conceivably live on less than $1,000 per month in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, as I’ve traveled on less than that amount in each of those countries but first some caveats:

    (1) Argentina: I wouldn’t want to encourage illegal behavior, but there’s an official exchange rate in the region of 5.50 pesos to the dollar and an unofficial (“blue market”) rate closer to 9.00 pesos per dollar, so depending on which you use your costs will be quite different. That said, I have a friend currently living in Buenos Aires on 4,500 pesos per month which allows him a decent lifestyle and enough to go out on weekends, but not really enough to do overnight trips. Elsewhere in the country, especially the Andean Northwest, can be much cheaper, but keep in mind Patagonia is quite expensive.

    (2) Chile is a bit more expensive than Argentina, with basically similar caveats. You could scrape by on $1,000 per month in Santiago, but it’ll go much further in smaller cities. Once again the North (Arica, for example) is much cheaper and I think this budget would be a challenge in Patagonia.

    (3) Uruguay is actually the most expensive of the countries. You could just about get by on $1,000 per month in Montevideo and quite easily at various places inland. Also, if you’re not there during peak summer season (December-March) then you can find some great deals in the beach towns (I recommend Cabo Polonio for some serious rustic solitude – I lived there for a week on $150, I’m sure others could for even less with a monthly rental). In the peak season though you’re looking at prices 3-4 times as high.

    One general note, the cost of long-distance buses in Argentina (and to a lesser extent Chile) can really add up, but Argentina’s bus system is quite wonderful. As always, if you travel slowly it’ll be cheaper.

    I hope this helps.

  14. Steve C says:

    Hey Jonny, point well taken. I find myself being a little myopic at times. As I’m more of a ruin site freak and not so much a hiker, and also as my visit was over 35 years ago when there was literally no Inca Trail trekking unless you really made over the top expedition plans, I can see how excited you must have been doing your trip. I’m also a train fan and my trip to the site involved a R/T train ride up the canyon with one of the grand daddy of all ruin sites as a prize at the end. I don’t even remember that it could be done by bus in those days. It was the train or nothing, except and “epic” trek. Happy Trails! Steve

    • Nice reply Steve – yes I loved the Inca Trail due to the hikes and views and camping etc. and even the food was great! After seeing Machu Picchu, we ended up with a day in Aguas Calientes and then got the train back to Ollantaytambo. I dare say that train journey has changed a lot since your day, but it was still fab! Safe travels Jonny

  15. Giedre says:

    Alio! I’m excited to see that you’re traveling to Lithuania this summer! As a Litho-American who has always been an avid traveler, I’ve never understood how it doesn’t regularly make it to the top of the budget traveler lists. There’s a lot to be said for the lovely simplicity of fields, rivers, forests, potatoes, and sausages!! I just arrived a few days ago and will be here until mid-August…hit me up if you’re around. :)

  16. Jonas says:

    I am 19 years old and haven’t specialized in anything, Im generally into fitness. I was thinking about small jobs like teaching english like you said. I asked this because you insisted in a blog on how many opportunities there are out there for making money so please give me a good start place, like thailand (teaching english), australia (picking fruits), indonesia (digging for treasures), anything. I’m sure some countries are better start places for me than others?

    Thanks again

  17. Steve C says:

    Jonny, I have to comment on your view of not being able to see major sites. I’ve been to Machu Picchu and didn’t even think that doing the “Inca Trail” should be a part of the experience. I don’t know how that hike has become such an “important” part of such a prominent ruin site. I think the tour companies have hyped it so much as a way for them to make big bucks, that visitors now think that if they don’t do the trail, they haven’t ‘done’ Machu Picchu. A lot of travelers are traveling on a shoestring and simply don’t have the money to do what vacationers might do. (vacationers have more money than time)

    When we were in Arusha, Tanzania, on our RTW trip, we chose not to do the Kilimanjaro climb as it would have blown our budget. Back then, it would only have been $350 for the two of us. But, as we always used to tell ourselves, “That’s a month in India”.

    Also, I think what Earl means by a $1,000 a month budget is one that includes a modicum of entertainment money. These $200 and up, costly treks, dives or climbs should be considered outside of the usual traveler’s budget. Just as a WAG, I’ve always thrown in $5 bucks a day into my planning budget for entertainment. So, if I wanted to do an Inca Trail trek, or whatever, I’d lay low for awhile, so there would be money to do it without going into the emergency fund.

    • Hi Steve – thanks for your comments and we’ll have to agree to disagree I’m afraid…each to their own!! I would only have done Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. There is no way I would have went all the way to Peru and then cheated and got a bus to Machu Picchu! Or done the Salkantay Trek (which doesnt allow you to waken up at 5am and hike down to admire this lost city) I wanted to do it properly – sleeping in tents, wakening up to epic views and a fantasic hike. I loved it.

      I agree with the last bit of your comment though and I use that tactic a lot. If I overspend on a major site, I’ll stay in a cheap hostel for a few days and just write my travel blog without going out and spending a lot of money.

      Peru of course can be done on $1000 a month even with the Inca Trail as part of that – couchsurfing and staying with mates on the way will seriously help with that. Safe travels! Jonny

  18. Sam says:

    Great list, Earl. I would also be tempted to add China, as I travelled there for around $1000 a month (though it was three years ago), by staying in dorms (which I found to be of a standard on par with or higher than in Western Europe) and travelling by overnight train or bus. If you stayed in private rooms in hotels and flew around the country, it’d probably be too expensive to be on this list, but still.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Thanks Sam…seems like a few people mentioned China, a country I haven’t been to (at least not to the mainland). Maybe I should look at going soon!

  19. Megan says:

    Great list! I do feel like I could live on less than $1000 in Hungary, so I would totally recommend it to budget-minded travelers wanting to explore Europe. I’m going to be in Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, and Bulgaria throughout the end of July & August, and am really looking forward to experiencing how cheap they can be ;-)

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