When you’re on a budget, travel to typically costly countries can seem out of reach — but don’t let the generalization that travel has to be expensive stop you from marking these destinations off your bucket list!
We’ve collected our best money-saving tips for some of the most expensive countries in the world, so even the most frugal traveler can enjoy time in these gorgeous countries.
How to Travel Expensive Countries Affordably
How to Travel England on a Budget
England has some of the most beautiful cities and landscapes Europe has to offer, but typically at a hefty price. However, classic tourist attractions like Big Ben, Changing the Guard ceremony, Abbey Road, and all of Britain’s national museums are free! London’s beautiful SkyGarden is free to tour (although you should definitely reserve tickets ahead of time), and you can enjoy sweeping views of Central London from the royal Greenwich Park.
When to Fly: Traveling in winter months between November and March to save an average of about $300-400, or book flights well in advance for as little as $500 round trip (!) with discount European airlines. For example, a summer flight from the US, booked 6 months in advance, comes in at around $1,150, vs. an autumn flight booked 10 months in advance for $499 with WOW air.
Where to Stay: B&B’s or small hotels with an included breakfast; Claredon Hotel at $122/night vs. centrally located Sanctuary House Hotel at $245/night. Airbnb’s are a great option here too. (Sign up through our link and get $35 off your first booking!)
Where to Eat: Fish & Chips and standard pub food are much less expensive than restaurants, as is Indian food. An express lunch at popular Jar Kitchen will run $20 USD, vs. a burger at The Rocket pub, $5.50.
When to Splurge: Thames Rocket; take a sightseeing tour on the Thames River by way of a roller coaster-like speedboat. You’ll hit up all the big tourist attractions, and have a seriously wild time doing it!
Read more: How to Travel Britain Cheap After Brexit
How to Travel Switzerland on a Budget
Switzerland is consistently rated as one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit, which can deter potential travelers from choosing to visit. If you stick to inexpensive activities like taking cheese and chocolate tours, admiring historical cathedrals and checking out the seasonal folk markets, you’ll have plenty to do at little to no cost. National parks do not impose an entry fee, so go explore the Swiss Alps and natural scenery!
When to Fly: During winter months, before prices start to rise again in April.
Where to Eat: Dine at supermarket “cafeterias.” While this might not sound as appealing as mountain-top restaurants with sweeping views, you’ll be saving an average of $20 USD per meal! Migros, Denner, and Coop are the top places to get inexpensive meals (by Swiss standards) for around $10-$15 USD, vs. traditional meat-centered Swiss restaurants like Zeughauskeller that will cost $35-$45. Remember, tipping is included in the cost of the meal.
When to Splurge: Skiing the Swiss Alps. Winter months mean less tourism and cheaper prices, plus fresh snow makes for the best winter activities! The higher the resort is the more expensive it’s likely to be, so check out some lower locations like Grimentz and Villars-sur-Ollon.
How to Travel Australia on a Budget
Because of their location on the southern hemisphere, Australia’s “summer” season falls between the months of December and February; book your flights accordingly! Although it may be a bit cooler than your typical summer getaway, Australia is the perfect place to go during the summer months.
Even in the off season, you can still go whale watching, explore the desert on an Australian safari, or dive the Great Barrier Reef.
When to Fly: May through September. A sample round trip flight from the US costs $1,050 in June, vs. a whopping $2,425 in December, so timing is key!
Where to Stay: Housesit through Housecarers.com (very popular in N. America and Australia), $0 vs. standard hotel in Melbourne Causeway 353 Hotel, $127/night.
Where to Eat: Grocery shop, especially if you choose to house sit and have access to a full kitchen. Grocery shopping or even picking up quick picnic lunches at the store is the best way to eat without blowing all of your money, and alcohol is EXPENSIVE so skip wine or beer with dinner and pick that up at the store instead too!
When to Splurge: Snorkel the Reef. If you do anything in Australia, this should be it! Snorkeling will be cheaper than certified diving but can still cost around $200/person, so make this your trip’s splurge activity.
Read more: How to Take a Road Trip in Australia
How to Travel New Zealand on a Budget
New Zealand is gorgeous year round and packed with plenty of natural beauty, so it doesn’t take a lot of money to have an enjoyable vacation here! Fall foliage, lambs, penguins, rich marine life and active Southern Lights make NZ a country not to be overlooked.
If you plan on exploring up and down the islands, book bus tickets well in advance for cheap fare or rent a camper van and drive yourself! Flights from one city to the next are very costly and there are more affordable alternatives.
When to Fly: Similar to Australia, New Zealand’s summer season falls in December through February so come during the months of May to September for cheaper prices. You can expect flight prices to be comparable to Australia as well.
Where to Eat: A chicken roll at Bird On A Wire is $10, vs. dinner plate at Depot Eatery averaging at around $30. Keep in mind that tipping in New Zealand is not customary, so there’s no need to leave one.
When to Splurge: A “Hop On, Hop Off” pass. A city pass — available for purchase in most popular tourist cities in the U.S. and around the world — will offer entrance into main attractions for a discounted price but will leave you to navigate the city on your own.
For about $32 USD per adult, you can tour Auckland’s main attractions buy purchasing an all-day pass that will drop you off at sites like the Auckland Museum, Sky City, and the Auckland waterfront with pickups available every 30 minutes. This is a great, quick way to see New Zealand’s largest city in a short amount of time!
How to Travel Austria on a Budget
Summer in Vienna offers free classical concerts and open-air outdoor movies, and the historical attractions of Vienna Ringstrasse are accessible year round. The free-range Lainzer Tiergarten zoo is also unique and worth a visit, as is relaxing at The Donauinsel — a strip of land between two channels of the Danube River, frequented by nude sunbathers. Now’s the time to cross skinny dipping off your bucket list!
When to Fly: Springtime, particularly April and May — just before tourist season starts. A sample flight in May costs $1071 USD roundtrip, while the same flight just two months later is $200 USD more.
Where to Stay: Check out various Motel One options in the area your are looking to stay in. Motel One is an international hotel brand with modern — if generic — decor and inexpensive nightly rates as low as $90. This is a great deal in comparison to independent hotels that often run over $200/night.
Where to Eat: Austrians are very fond of their picnics, so pick up snacks at a nearby cafe or market and settle into a spot on the grass for lunch. As for dinner, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that eating out is not particularly expensive! For the best deals, eat early in the evening when specials are still available. Otherwise, you can expect meal prices to be similar to that of American or Canadian restaurant meals.
When to Splurge: A performance at The Spanish Riding School. This architecturally stunning building is located right in the city center and is home to the most iconic shows the city has to offer. Performances cost between $55 and $155 depending on the seats, but regardless of where you’re seated you’re surely to be in awe of the authentic cultural experiences that take place here.
How to Travel Sweden on a Budget
Modern Scandinavian countries with thriving economies and expensive tastes don’t make for an easy time budgeting, but inexpensive daily activities can offset pricey food and drinks.
Head to Katarinahissen for stunning views of Stockholm, and Stadsbiblioteket — Sweden’s largest public library with half a million books and gorgeous architecture. Many museums and attractions offer discounted (or even free!) entry at specific times on certain days, so plan your visit well!
When to Fly: Winters are long in Sweden, giving you plenty of time to avoid peak tourism season. Late August through September is this best time for budget travelers to visit, given the amount of tourists has significantly lowered and the weather hasn’t reached full-blown winter yet. You will obviously see even lower rates if you do visit in winter, but traveling in fall will still give you the opportunity to do outdoor activities and won’t make you tempted to splurge on taxi rides in the snow.
A sample RT flight in late August/September is estimated at $810, vs. $1339 just two months earlier in July.
Where to Stay: Airbnb is a great option in areas where hotel accommodation might be more expensive. You can find entire apartments and houses for under $100 USD/night in the fall, vs. city-center standard ‘luxe’ hotels like Collector’s Victory Hotel at $227/night during the same season.
Where to Eat: Avoid buying alcohol, especially at clubs. Going out in Stockholm may sound like a great idea, until you look at your credit card charges the next day! A beer at a restaurant will cost about $9-$10 USD, and even more — around $14 — at nightclubs. Mixed drinks? Expect double the price. Cutting out — or cutting back — on alcohol will significantly reduce your spending.
Eat at outside food vendors rather than sit-down restaurants; a hot dog, sausage, or gourmet-quality burger can be found at food trucks for $10 USD, whereas just an appetizer at any given popular restaurant will run you in the $15-$20 range. Expect $40+ for an entree! Asian and ethnic food markets are also great alternatives if typical Swedish food truck cuisine is not your thing.
When to Splurge: I would recommend a trip to the Drottningholm Palace or Stockholm food tour — whichever interests you more. The culture and history of the country are evident in both, and with the food tour you get the added bonus of tasty Swedish delicacies! The palace entrance is much less expensive than the food tour, making it possible to do both for under $70 USD/person.
How to Travel Iceland on a Budget
Northern Lights, thriving nightlife, and hiking the Icelandic glaciers are just a few of the awesome things Iceland has to offer in its off-season winter months. With proper attire, you can also hike the volcanic Mount Esja or join a free walking tour of the capital with City Walk Reykjavik.
When to Fly: The newly popular Iceland-based discount airline WOW air makes flying to Reykjavik affordable enough for even the biggest penny-pinchers! A round trip flight from the US in June estimates at only $740 USD, but you can save even more by traveling later in October/November for under $500.
Where to Stay: Airbnb. Iceland has topped the world’s safety index at #1 for many years now, so even female or solo travelers can feel safe making friends and sharing homes with the locals. Booking a room in someone’s home on Airbnb will not only save you money on accommodation, but will also likely connect you with people who will gladly show you the coolest places and things to do in the area! In comparison, hotels will cost no less than $250/night; for example, the mid-range hostel Hlemmur Square charges $239 USD/night for a room during the summer months.
Where to Eat: Iceland’s cuisine is seasonal and largely consists of meat-based entrees, but ordering steak or seafood at a local favorite restaurant will cost over $35 USD. Kebabs, falafel, and soup stations are all great, cheaper alternatives for under $10.
When to Splurge: A soak in the Blue Lagoon. Buy a standard ticket in the off-season winter months for $54 USD and get your own picturesque snapshots in the milky blue geothermal spa! If a day soak isn’t enough, you could really splurge on a snowmobiling tour of Iceland’s frosty landscape. Prices for 2-3 hour snowmobiling adventure can cost between $200-$300 USD depending on what company you book through.