8 cheap destinations for a week under $500

Posted by in Travel tips

There are plenty of countries to explore on the cheap and in this blog post, I want to show you that, with good planning, traveling does not have to be that expensive.

$500 for a week-long vacation gives you a budget of $62.5 per day for 8 days. Depending on your comfort expectations, you could even go down to $25-35 per day in the 8  countries below ($200-$280 for the week). But when you go on a one week adventure, the goal is not necessarily to travel on a backpacker’s budget, that’s why I picked $500 as a target. You still have to add the cost of your plane ticket but I will get into this matter further down the post.

Cheap destinations around America

The Caribbean coast of Colombia has the perfect set up for a One Week Adventure. Within 8 days or so, you can combine city, mountain and sea, with an extremely reasonable travel time. But don’t count on this trip to make you check Colombia off your bucket list and never return. Offering dozens of travel alternatives, this country is so charming that you will certainly want to return sooner than expected.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

This country has a tremendous amount of places to see and activities to do. Machu Picchu on its own might take a big chunk of your budget but it’s one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, right?  Exploring major sites of the Inca Empire, sailing on the famous Lake Titicaca, or driving through the altiplano at 4000m+, Peru will surely take your breath away.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

El Salvador 
El Salvador is an incredible country that is often overlooked by travelers. This tiny Central American country has so much to offer, and its size makes it easy to see a lot in just a short amount of time. Whether you want to explore a culturally rich city, lounge on the beach, hike a volcano, or experience Ancient Mayan ruins, a trip to El Salvador will satisfy any traveler.


See Brianna‘s one-week suggested itinerary

Traveling to Cuba (outside of the resorts!) is a real trip back in time. Vintage cars, communist propaganda, colorful colonial towns, it’s everything you had in mind. Plus, with an established network of home stays you are sure to find authentic experiences and great seafood. Crystal clear water and white sand beaches are just a bonus.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

Cheap destinations around Asia

Sure, Vietnam is a very popular destination and there’s a lot of tourist traps. But if you’re able to avoid them you will find a beautiful country that has so much to offer, friendly inhabitants, amazing landscapes and delicious food. Waking up on a junk boat surrounded by the Halong Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!


See my one-week suggested itinerary

Myanmar (previously Burma)
You probably heard that Myanmar is one of the places you definitely need to visit sooner rather than later. The country has opened to international tourism only a few years ago and is moving fast. If you want to catch a glimpse of the original Myanmar and travel back in time, this is the destination you should prioritize for your next trip.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

Cheap destinations closer to Europe

Easily reached, with plenty of direct flights from both North America and Europe, Morocco is perfect for a one-week getaway. Being the most stable state in the region, it’s a safe place to travel when you apply basic common sense. With a wide choice of activities and places to visit, figuring out an itinerary is no easy thing. The destinations I suggest give you a sense of this variety by offering a mix between mountains, ocean and city.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is a prime destination, often forgotten by most travelers. Easy to visit and safe, it’s the ideal place to soak up the atmosphere of The Thousand and One Nights. Follow the steps of Marco Polo for an unforgettable trip filled with outstanding cultural discoveries.


See my one-week suggested itinerary

How to budget your trip

A good thing to look at when you plan a trip is the daily budget. If your target is to spend no more than $500 per person when going on a one week adventure, it will give you an average of $62.5 per day, for 8 days.

Having traveled extensively to over 45 countries, I can tell you that this target is easily achievable in many countries around the world.

A good way to figure it out is to divide your daily budget by types of expense. For example, $500 would give you:

  • 7 nights at $20 per person (double room for two at $40 per night) – total of $140
  • 24 meals (3 per day) at $8 – total of $192
  • 4 domestic transportation segments at $20 each – total of $80
  • and a balance of $88 for activities or entries

Plus, if you get a room with breakfast included (and with $40 per night it’s easily done), you get an extra $64 for your activities ($8 per breakfast saved X 8 days).

Now you still have to add the cost of your plane tickets I know. But depending where you live, it can be a matter of $200-$500, allowing you to embark on an adventure for less than $1000.

Plus, if you live in North America, there’s a high chance that you can get those plane tickets for free with simple travel hacks and credit card usage (read how I got $2242 of free travel in one year).

If not, I can give you some of my best ways to find cheap plane tickets when you have no flexibility.

Daily savings

If you want to make two similar trips per year (at $1000 each), it’s $167 you need to put aside each month for your travel plans. Just to give some context on easy ways to save:

  • Do you buy coffee on the way to work every day? 5 days X 4 weeks X $4 = $80 a month you can save buy bringing your coffee from home
  • Do you eat out for lunch? Even if it’s only twice a week that can represent $80 to $120 per month (at $10-15 per lunch)
  • How much do you pay for your cellphone and cable TV? Is there any potential savings there?

Three easy actions you can take today to save and prioritize your hard-earned money for traveling.



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