8 Travel Bloggers Share Their Top Budget-Friendly Destinations for 2017


This year may be the year to knock a dream destination (or two) off your bucket list, thanks to a strong dollar and lower air fares.

Post-Brexit, the British pound sterling has fallen to a 30-year low against the dollar. And the euro is around the 94 cents mark, making European travel particularly budget friendly these days.

Where else can we stretch our dollars? Eight jet-setting bloggers share their favorite value destinations for 2017. Warning: This may induce some serious wanderlust.

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Cambodia

Chosen by: Zach Honig, editor-in-chief at The Points Guy

“Expect to pay at least $700 round-trip to get to my favorite city, Siem Reap—and spend about 24 hours traveling from the US on airlines like Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong) or China Southern (via Guangzhou). But once you’ve arrived, you can get full meals for just a few dollars, 50-cent beers, hour-long massages for $5 and five-star hotels for less than $100.

As for activities, the possibilities are nearly endless: You can hike, ride ATVs, explore [famous temple] Angkor Wat or hire a driver for the day to explore.

I’ve always felt safe during my visits, and the locals are incredibly friendly—some of the nicest I’ve met anywhere in the world.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Crete

Chosen by: Angelina Aucello of Angelina Travels

“Crete, the largest Greek island, tops my list. Getting there from Athens is easy via a short flight or an overnight cruise that costs roughly 68 euro for a full cabin. (Bonus: Kids are free.)

Thanks to current state of the Greek economy—plus the many sub-$400 European fare sales that often pop up for spring/summer travel on sites like The Flight Deal and Secret Flying—getting to Greece during peak summer season won’t break the bank. (Keep an eye out for Emirates’ Athens-Newark route beginning next month.)

I spent a week in Crete with my family and two young children last fall, and we couldn’t have asked for a better trip—ideal weather, picturesque beaches and some of the most delicious seafood we’ve ever tasted for about $10 per person!

We cashed in our Marriott rewards points to snag five nights at a luxury resort, plus discounted airfare. This included elaborate (and free) breakfasts. Our only out-of-pocket expenses were the rental car and cheap eats at local family-owned tavernas outside the resort.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Denver, Colo.

Chosen by: Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey

“One of my favorite value destinations in the US is Denver. There’s a solid public transport infrastructure with low-cost light rail, bus and bike-share options for getting around. Of course, you can use your own two feet, too.

There are a number of free and budget-friendly things to do, like free first-time classes at Yoga Pod, free Forbidden Bingo at Maloney’s Tavern with a 50-percent off happy hour, $2 bottomless coffee at Denver Bicycle Cafe and $2 weekend brunch Bloody Marys at The Hornet Restaurant.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Portugal

Chosen by: Brian Cox of The Travel Vlogger

“Portugal has always been one of the cheapest European countries to visit, but with the euro being so low, it’s even easier on the wallet.

Lisbon is a great city with tons of history, culture, monuments, churches and squares to admire. In the north, the second-largest city of Porto is where the famous port wine comes from. In the south, you’ll find the very popular summer region, the Algarve, which is a winner for beach lovers.

It’s great any time of year, but particularly cheap in the low season (December to March). In my experience, you can swing a trip to Portugal for about 15 percent less than what you’d spend in Spain, which is already quite cheap compared to other European countries like France or Italy.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Sri Lanka

Chosen by: Dani Heinrich of Globetrotter Girls

“I spent five weeks traveling around this beautiful little island in the Indian Ocean just before the main tourist season started in December. It’s one of the cheapest countries I’ve been to—it’s possible to travel on $20 to $30 per day (on a shoestring), which includes food, lodging and transportation, or around $50 per day in nicer accommodations.

It boasts gorgeous beaches in the south, lots of wildlife—including elephants and jaguars!—a charming Dutch-Portuguese colonial town of Galle and a whopping eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It also has amazingly tasty food (like a full, sit-down dinner of delicious rice and Sri Lankan curries for around $5), welcoming locals and isn’t on most people’s radar, meaning you don’t have to deal with tourist crowds.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Ecuador

Chosen by: Nora Dunn of The Professional Hobo

“I’m currently spending a lot of time in Ecuador, which is a great value destination for 2017. It has a variety of different terrains—from beaches to the Andes mountains to jungles, rainforests and volcanoes.

Although the US dollar is the prevailing currency, the cost of living and traveling in Ecuador is significantly cheaper than in the States. For instance, $10 will get you loads of fresh, exotic fruits and veggies at one of the local markets.

History and culture buffs will love the city of Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surfing fanatics will love the breaks on the coast, and nature lovers will adore Baños.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Canmore, Canada

Chosen by: Charles Kosman of The Barefoot Nomad

“With the weak Canadian dollar right now, Canada makes a great destination for Americans. Any place that gets you out of the cities and into nature will save you heaps. Canmore, just 45 minutes outside of Calgary, Alberta, is one example, known for its quaint Rocky Mountain villas, shops and restaurants.

There are miles of paved and unpaved paths around town, making it a nature lover’s dream. Not only are you saving money, you’re getting some fresh air in one of Canada’s prettiest areas.

When you want to stop for the night, there are dozens of hotel choices and Airbnb mountain retreats. Hotels run around $100 a night, but you can save even more by camping in nearby Spray Lakes or staying in a camp lodge for about $40 to $60 per night.”

The Budget-Friendly Destination: Mexico City

Chosen by: Marko Ayling of Vagabrothers

“The Mexican capital remains one of the foremost cultural destinations in the world. It’s the Berlin of the Americas with its edge, deep heritage, affordability and charm. I recommend staying in Roma Norte, a neighborhood full of turn-of-the-century villas—so many great places to eat, drink and explore.

Right now, the exchange rate between the peso and dollar is favorable (1 peso is worth about 50 cents), and an amazing meal in one of the city’s nicer restaurants is still a great value. And, for me, nothing beats getting the royal treatment at one of Mexico City’s classic barbershops—a haircut and wet shave with an open bar and mani/pedi at Paris Merinne in the La Condesa neighborhood is around $50.”