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Budget travel: 30 destinations under $50 a day

To the point Here are some suggestions of destinations for a trip on a budget. Discover tips on how to save on flights and how to get there cheaply!

This post is also available in: FR

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean it has to be less fun. Indeed, my fondest memories come from “budget travel“.

You can have just as much fun discovering new places without coming home with a kidney missing.

A budget trip can be just as rewarding as a luxury trip; what’s better than saveing money and points to be able to leave again soon, or to add to your savings?

The following countries can be visited on a small budget and for as little as $50 per day. This amount can be used very differently from place to place:

  • standard air-conditioned hotel room, meals at restaurants and activities in Asia
  • a bed in a dormitory, groceries and free activities in Europe

Then, to use points on disbursements at destination, travel points applicable on expenses as well as cash back will be favored.

Airline tickets on a budget trip

However, we don’t take the cost of airfare to get us there when aiming for a $50/day budget trip.

To cushion this aspect of the budget, there are credit card points! The strategies for each region will be detailed in their respective sections in this article.

Asia

Asia is a great place for a budget trip, as the cost of living is very low in many countries.

Yes, the Maldives are on this list! My little family and I were able to visit this country and to our surprise, it was not very expensive on the local islands!

The Asian continent is so vast and diverse. These destinations are suitable for all tastes, but especially for beautiful landscapes, sublime beaches or a multitude of dishes to delight your taste buds.

Borobudur Indonésie
Borobudur Indonésie

Go with Reward Points

The preferred point programs for international flights are:

American Express Membership Rewards points are listed as a separate type of points from travel points because they are transferable to airline programs. However, these are also basic travel points.

Aeroplan points and Avios points are very easy to obtain. The number of points required for a round trip to Thailand in economy class is around 100,000 Aeroplan points or 100,000 Avios miles.

Aeroplan vers l’Asie

On the other hand, American Express Membership Rewards points are also points to aim for, as they are transferable to airline programs like Aeroplan, Avios, Asia Miles, etc.

Multipartenaires Oneworld vers l’Asie

This way, simulations can be done to determine the amount of points needed and the amount of taxes to be paid before making the transfer. In addition, occasional transfer promotions are available. There are also sweetspots to know about:

  • The Montreal-Doha-Bangkok route; Bangkok-Doha-Montreal costs 95,000 Avios
  • The Montreal-Doha-Bangkok route; Bangkok-Amman-Montreal costs 70,000 Avios

The major difference between the two routes? Flights under the second option are operated by two Oneworld carriers and the multi-partner schedule comes into effect.

Then, if you can’t find a great route with points, you can pay with cash and use travel points, such as American Express Membership Rewards points, to reduce your card balance.

Finally, when traveling in the region, Membership Rewards points can also be used to cover the cost of low-cost flights. In fact, all applicable travel points on expenses will be prioritized for internal flights.

Evaluate prices (in money and points) to major hubs in the region even if it’s not the destination you want.

Then you can take a low-cost airline for the last segment. A flight to Bangkok can be much more affordable than a ticket to Cambodia.

Latin America

From Canada, Central America and Latin America are the regions of choice for a budget trip due to affordable airfares (in cash or points) as well as the low cost of living there.

One can easily be disoriented with the magnificent beaches or with the colonial Spanish architecture in addition to having a multitude of activities to do alone, with friends, in couple or in family!

Nicaragua

For example, you could fly to Quito for cheap (see below) and spend a week at The Free Spirit Hostel for surfing and/or yoga retreat in good company! This hostel is also located in Nicaragua and offers dormitory beds as well as private rooms.

Free Spirit Hostel

Moreover, these countries are not too far from us and they are in the same time zone (or almost). So, these places are also perfect for telecommuting or simply for people who don’t want to face the time difference.

Go with Reward Points

The preferred point programs for flights are:

On the side of the air points as Aeroplan, bargains are sometimes to be seized quickly. For example, Caroline had found tickets to Mexico City for 20,900 Aeroplan points per person for spring break! When Aeroplan points are used at a value of at least 2 cents per point, it is a good use!

Aeroplan vers Mexique

However, travel points should be prioritized in most cases, especially during non-peak periods. Indeed, airfare prices vary greatly and the calculation of the value of the points will tell you what will be more advantageous.

Points voyage vers Amerique Latine

With generous welcome bonuses like the National Bank Platinum Mastercard or the TD Platinum Travel Visa* Card and the relatively low cost of airfare, a credit card may be all you need. In fact, the points offered with the bonus will absorb the majority of the airfare.

Europe

  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Georgia

Most people don’t think of the Old Continent for a budget trip. Indeed, the Scandinavian countries are extremely expensive and so are the majority of Western European countries.

On the other hand, many European destinations are still accessible for a budget trip.

For example, Hungary is full of museums, historical sites and tourist attractions of comparable caliber to those found in Western Europe, but at a much lower price.

Budapest 2
Budapest

Then, for Portugal and Greece, there is something for every wallet; on the Greek islands, we stayed in independent hotels booked with Booking.com for approximately $20 per day per person.

Hôtel grèce pas cher

Go with Reward Points

The preferred point programs for flights are:

To travel to Europe with Aeroplan, you should aim for at least 60,000 points per person in economy class. When you look at the price of cash tickets, it’s not always a good idea to use your Aeroplan points in economy class to Europe.

YUL-LIS Y

Indeed, bargains to Europe are frequent when paying in cash. Therefore, travel points will be more useful if you want to store around for the best fare and travel in economy class.

Points voyage Paris

However, Aeroplan points are easily accumulated. So, depending on your spending habits and your ability to manage credit cards, this is still a good strategy. Then, if you are interested in business class flights, Aeroplan points and upgrade credits should definitely be on your radar.

For example, these flights between Montreal and Zurich, in business class, are done on a partner airline. Thus, the amount will always be constant while the fare is dynamic on Air Canada’s wings.

Aeroplan vers l’Europe en J

Sure, Switzerland is far from being a budget travel destination, but it is a hub to start your trip in Europe. This is a good flight to aim for if you want to be in business class at a fixed price! In economy class, the same flight is priced at 70,000 Aeroplan points for a round trip.

Once in Europe, you can easily travel to other parts of the continent by low-cost airlines or by road.

From Montreal, the following routes are served by Air Canada’s partners, so prices are based on a fixed fare schedule.

  • Lisbon (TAP Portugal)
  • Munich (Lufthansa)
  • Vienna (Austrian Airlines)
  • Zurich (Swiss International Air Lines)

Then, flights on Turkish Airlines and United should not be overlooked either to get to Europe at fixed premium rates.

However, not all available seats are available for booking with points, unlike seats on Air Canada aircraft. Knowing when tickets go on sale can be crucial to finding good prices and ExpertFlyer can help you find premium availability.

Africa

A safari can be a budget travel goal. Indeed, there are safaris of all ranges: from a la carte game drives to a week’s stay in a luxury all-inclusive lodge.

In South Africa, you can take a short two-hour guided safari for as little as $35 or R415.

Alternatively, you can rent a car and go onself-drive safaris. The most suitable parks for this kind of activities in South Africa or Namibia are :

  • Kruger National Park
  • Pilanesberg National Park
  • Kgalagadi National Park
  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Etosha National Park
  • Namib-Naukluft National Park
  • Damaraland
Afrique du Sud
Afrique du Sud 2

On the North African side, Morocco andEgypt are easily accessible with air point programs and do not have a very high cost of living.

Finally, if you don’t want to break your head, guided tours with Gadventures are very affordable in these countries. However, they will be more expensive than doing it independently.

Tour budget

Go with Reward Points

The preferred point programs for international flights are:

There are many options to travel to Africa.

You could use Aeroplan points according to the fixed fare schedule on partners. In these cases, we usually get a good value even in economy class since flights to southern Africa are quite expensive.

As for North Africa, direct flights to Morocco andEgypt are on Air Canada. So they are subject to fluctuations, but that can be to your advantage as well. Since these flights are sometimes inexpensive, it is advisable to have a certain amount of travel points as well.

—Karnak

Then, on the Avios side, the Oneworld multi-partner fare structure can be interesting to reach Cape Town on the Qsuite!

Again, the currency of American Express Membership Rewards points is very cost effective as they can be transferred to multiple programs and used as travel points!

Suggested credit cards

American Express Cobalt? Card: a card for everyday purchases

However, the American Express CobaltTM Card deserves special attention in strategies to minimize the cost of budget travel. Especially when you don’t want to have many credit cards.

A good and simple travel hacking plan would be to sign up for the American Express CobaltTM Card and use it as your primary card for accumulation. Then, to have another one (Visa/Mastercard) when American Express is not accepted.

It’s the only card that earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar at grocery stores and restaurants. Membership Rewards points are very versatile, as they transfer to :

  • Aeroplan points at a ratio of 1:1
  • Avios miles at 1:1 ratio
  • air points in various programs
  • hotel points

Or they can be used as :

  • cash back
  • travel points

So, credit card sign-up bonuses are very attractive, as they allow you to pick up a lot of points quickly.

However, if you want to earn a lot of points on everyday purchases (organic spending), a card such as the American Express CobaltTM Card is essential.

We mention 5X points at the grocery store, but it doesn’t stop there! In fact, a multitude of business gift cards can be found in grocery stores. So you can collect 5X points on Amazon, on gas, on Airbnb, at the SAQ, at Simons, at IKEA, etc.

Paying annual credit card fees: a nonsense on a budget trip?

Finally, do annual credit card fees cut into the budget trip? The welcome bonus more than offsets the annual fee, and many credit cards offer a rebate for the first year.

Then, for credit cards that you want to keep for the long term, the annual fee is usually justified by benefits that you would have paid otherwise:

Otherwise, promotional offers are frequent with some issuers such as American Express.

If you take advantage of the benefits and offers of credit cards, you won’t have paid a lot of fees to hold these cards in the end.

No foreign currency conversion fees

Once abroad, to save on your banking fees, consider getting a card with no foreign currency conversion fees.

For example, the KOHO Premium Visa Prepaid Card is the most accessible card (no minimum income or credit check). It does not charge any foreign currency conversion fees.

Bottom Line

To make a trip on a budget, you must choose your destination and your credit cards carefully. Learn how to manage your personal finances with our guides and try our tips on how to use your Reward Points to get the most value out of them.

Travel hacking is a well-paying hobby that gives you very economical opportunities!

This post is also available in: FR

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Aline
I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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