Easiest Destinations for First Time Budget Travelers

Getting Started, Travel Tips
Wondering where to begin? Whether traveling solo or with a buddy, first timers or not, these destinations are best for easy budget travel.
You want to travel. You want to budget travel. You may or not be traveling alone. Where to go?! The world is so big!

Foreign travel can be intimidating. In fact it's almost always a bit scary before you actually land somewhere, get your feet wet, and realize you're going to be fine. But some places really are just plain easier than others for first-time travelers and some are best kept for seasoned veterans. Here are some of my favorites and why I think they are good for starting out.

Some things to take into consideration when choosing a budget travel location are:
  • Public Transportation

    - Is it prevalent, easy, and inexpensive?
  • Tourist Infrastructure

    - Will you be able to find enough hotels and restaurants to suit your comfort level at a budget?
  • Flights

    - Are they reasonable in both schedule, flight time, cost?
  • Safety

    - What is the crime level? Can you travel alone? Can you travel alone as a woman?
  • Language

    - If they use Roman letters (or whatever script you are fluent at reading - it's so much easier if you can read signs). Do you speak the native language? How much of your language do the locals speak?
  • Cost

    - How much does it cost once you're there?
No matter which destination you choose, you'll feel more comfortable if you do some research about where you're going. Not only what sights you might want to see, but how to get around, the basic cost of transportation food and accommodations, customs, etc. These countries might be on the "easy" list, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't do some research to know a bit about where you're going!

There are other places that are super easy like New Zealand, Croatia, and some other European countries but they are either not easy on the budget or take a good bit more effort to travel on a budget. Therefore they don't fall into our category of "Easiest Budget Travel Destinations".

I will say that the first place I traveled alone was India - one of the more difficult places to travel alone - and I survived. And felt quite proud of myself too. But no matter where you go, you can feel proud of yourself for getting out there and experiencing the excitement of world travel!

Indonesia / Bali

Bali (unique to most other parts of Indonesia) has become quite popular and has a ton of infrastructure focused on tourism to allow you to feel comfortable in your surroundings. There are loads of hotels with Western conveniences like hot water, Western toilets, private bathrooms, and comfy beds.

On Bali in particular, it's so easy to get taxis all over the island, book tours, find retreats, and get almost any kind of food you could possibly want. The bemos (budget local transportation) are not widely used by tourists so transportation-wise, Bali is the not super easy on the "cheap".

Indonesia not only uses Roman letters, but the language is relatively easy. Many of their words are just phonetic versions of English words. Like taksi (taxi) and kopi (coffee). There is a lot of English spoken on Bali, too.

Because Bali is high on the over-touristed list, it takes a little searching out to get an authentic experience, but it can be had. Bali is rich in tradition and has a culture unique to the rest of Indonesia. Their ceremonies, festivals, artwork, and temples are what drew people to this island in the first place.

Roatan, Honduras

The small island of Roatan is a diving destination but also has amazing snorkeling, and the great little town of West End is fun to hang out in even if you don't do either of those. It's close to the US, English is their first language, and it's totally Westernized. West End (and West Bay) are full of shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars. It takes a little more effort to find true budget accommodation, but it can be done.

There is not a ton of diversity on the island but there are a few places to go explore if get tired of lazy days sipping Monkey La La's on the beach. There are mangrove forests, a butterfly farm, and Garifuna villages to visit.

Honduras has a reputation for being extremely unsafe, but the mainland and the islands are completely different worlds. There is indeed more crime on the mainland but Roatan is Westernized and not any more unsafe than other travel destinations.


Just saying Mexico is a pretty broad statement so let's narrow it down a little to a couple of good options. Since we're talking easy, let's say Mexico City and the Mayan Riviera (Cancun and surrounding area).

In the Mayan Riviera (Costa Maya), you should make an effort to stay out of the big tourist hubs. There is a hostel in the hotel zone if you really want to be in that area, but there are way better places to spend your time and where you can get a lot more for your money. There are some budget-friendly places to stay in Cancun proper (my favorite area is near the Parque de las Palapas), on Isla Mujeres (OMG Playa Norte!), and most places along the coast. Local buses are everywhere both in the city and along the coast, and street food is your friend. Also because of all the tourism, you'll find English spoken everywhere and modern conveniences. Sites include ruins, cenotes, lakes, and beaches.

Mexico City is absolutely full of sights from museums to ruins to parks to historical houses. Hostels are clean and friendly and you can get everywhere by walking or with a combination of an easy-to-use subway system and Uber (although you really really need to watch for pick-pockets particularly on the subway). Reasonable (and sometimes very interesting) food can be found everywhere.


For a fully tropical experience with some of the friendliest people, head to the South Pacific! You will be greeted with a huge smile and "Bula!" everywhere you go. Fiji is not an inherently cheap tourist destination so you will have to choose budget options as opposed to places like, say Thailand, where everything just IS cheap.

Booze and food can get really expensive, but inexpensive food can be found by partaking in the typical local plates and also roadside food stalls. Local buses and shared taxis will take you around the islands and there are plenty of hostels, too. As with anywhere, you might be somewhat limited as to your island experiences due to budget limitations (pricey ferries to other islands and such), but you can definitely enjoy a Fiji beach paradise on a budget.


This country sees plenty of tourism and has a lot of options for independent travel. Even if you aren't ready for the local bus system, there are some special tourist buses (say from the airport to Khao San Road area) and even the taxis are really inexpensive. You don't need to stay in a hostel because the hotels are so cheap, and the food, oh yes, the food! It's delicious and cheap. Tours, transportation vans, etc. are all easily booked from most hotels.

The Thai script is not going to be possible for most travelers to read, but there are a lot of signs in English. Thai is a tonal language so it more difficult to learn, but you will find some English spoken in most places. Also, if you are used to Western culture, this will be a much bigger culture shock (AKA amazing experience!) for you.

Costa Rica

This country sees plenty of tourism and has a lot of options for independent travel. There are many major bus lines that span the country from one end to the other. It's not the least expensive country for travel, but it offers a certain level of first world comfort. And of course the rain forests, jungles, waterfalls, wildlife, and beaches are amazing.

Speak some Spanish? Great. If not, you will find English spoken throughout the country. As with Fiji, it is not an overall inexpensive country. The grocery stores are filled with gringo food, national park entry fees are high, and lodging is also at the higher end. But it can be done, and if a more Western vibe suits your desires (especially for newbie travelers), then this might be just perfect for you. I do love Costa Rica and have enjoyed it thoroughly on a low budget.


Georgia, (the country, not the US state) is one of the less expensive countries to travel to and is also modern and safe. Everything is inexpensive from local (clean and easy) transportation, museums, and even beer. The food, such deliciousness for so inexpensive. Be prepared to eat a lot of meat and cheese. Growing in popularity as a travel destination, accommodation prices are going up but are still within budget travel range.

Georgia is a fun and energetic place to visit and enjoy culture, food, and coffee while being super budget friendly.


Under the impression that Europe is out as far as budget travel? Well here you go, Portugal is a budget traveler's favorite! Trains, local buses, and good old fashioned walking will get you efficiently to where you want to go, and lovely hostels and family-run inns abound. Local eateries are budget friendly and give you an authentic experience. English is widely spoken making is easy to find your way to beaches and the (free a certain day/time each week) museums and historical sites. You'll fall in love with the food, culture, and people.

Again, this is still Europe so doesn't fall into the "dirt cheap" category, but you can definitely enjoy this culturally rich country without breaking the bank, and with and easy traveler infrastructure, so it ekes its way into this list.


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