Some of our clients are at the beginning of the adventure of having children. I feel like Mac and I are hurtling towards the finish line. Our girls are nearly 15 and 16 years old and its a mad dash to fit in some great adventures while they still live at home. Top of our list is Asia and safari in Africa. Our holidays rarely include laying on the beach and fab hotels. We are more into discovering a country and meeting the people. Here are some cool suggestions for places to go that will not break the bank, create great memories and should give your children inspiration to explore the world
Traveling can cost a pretty penny, especially if you want to venture outside the U.S. and explore the far reaches of the world. But not every destination has to break the bank. Sure, the flight might set you back, but once you arrive in certain places, it’s budget-friendly all the way. We’ve rounded up 6 inexpensive countries to travel to this year, from Vietnam to Bali to India. And while we picked these places because they’re relatively affordable, no matter where you go, the memories will be priceless.
Our marketing director Melanie travels multiple times a year and has honed her skills for planning amazing adventures on a shoestring, China, Bali, Viet Nam, Mexico (Tulum!) on under $150pp per day including airfare and hotels! Check out her Bali & Viet Nam adventure here
Things to bear in mind
- Trips to Southeast Asia can take 14- 24 hours EACH WAY from the NY area. A 10-14 day trip loses a day each way for travel.
- Children under the age of 10 may have difficulty with the long flights and unfamiliar foods
- These trips are complex to plan and Melanie recommends sites like Gate 1, Sherman’s Travel and Travelzoo for their newsletters as well as Groupon Getaways but insists that you ALWAYS read the fine print and do due diligence on hotels on the itinerary, flights (read regs regarding luggage weight requirements and also flight itineraries for lengthy layovers)
- Plan to tip, everyone. Even the smallest gratuity is appreciated.
Asian destinations like Japan and Singapore can be pricy, but Vietnam is notably budget-friendly. The food, which is just as good from a street cart as it is from a sit-down restaurant, is cheap (usually less than 10 bucks a pop) and hotels are reasonable, with luxury properties averaging around $80 per night. There’s a lot to see, too, from Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore the country. Don’t be afraid to sample the street food, which includes signature dishes like beef pho and bun cha, and make sure to spring for a countryside bicycle tour from Hoi An, which run $17 and up. (visa required)
China is an amazing journey- The Great Wall (only man-made object visible from outer space) Forbidden City and Tienamen Square in Beijing, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, Pandas in Chengdu (and spicy spicy foods!), and the incredibly architecture and NY vibe of Shanghai make China very alluring. The cost of a 4 star hotel averages about $150 a night and the amenities in the room alone will knock your socks off. Add a daily breakfast buffet included with the room (European and Asian delicacies abound) and its a steal! The dollar is strong at almost 7 RMB to the USD. China is also surprisingly easy to navigate as most of the signage is in English and many people have at least a basic command. Dining out is also inexpensive and will spoil you for your local Chinese take-out. Taxis are SUPER inexpensive and guides can be procured through the hotel concierge at very reasonable rates. Tour companies that package 3-4 city tours are the best bet as they will include flights, transfers, hotels and at least 1 guided tour per city in a motorcoach for $1500-$1800, they will also handle most of the pesky paperwork. (visa required)
The photos Melanie showed me from Bali made the island in Indonesia seem to be made entirely of flowers and sandy beaches. A tiny Buddhist country in mostly Muslim Indonesia Bali is dedicated to beauty, gratitude and a love for life. At 13,000 Rupiah to the dollar you can live lavishly. Hotels are as little as $50-$100 a night with premium properties like the Ritz Carlton going as high as $175 a night. As in China, breakfasts are included with your room and offer a variety. Be prepared for spectacular temples, breathtaking beaches and super friendly people. Oh and monkeys! You can read more about Bali in Melanie’s blog post.
The current exchange rate between the U.S. and Mexico ($1 = 18.87 Mexican pesos) works in our favor, meaning your money can go a long way south of the border. Some of the more popular destinations, like Tulum or the Riviera Maya, can be costly due to the chic hotels, but you can seek out more affordable accommodations even in those cities via Air BnB. Avoiding the all inclusives in exchange for a car and an adventurous spirit will get you a dream-like vacation on white sugar sand beaches, cenotes (underground limestone pools), ancient temples and busy town squares. Once there you don’t need much cash – just enough to lounge on the beach with a few margaritas and some tacos.
The dollar is strong against the Euro right now, which makes Portugal one of several European destinations worth visiting this year. It has several oceanside cities, with beautiful beaches and seafood for days. Portugal is also the home of port wine, which you can learn all about in Porto. Nice hotels can be had for around $100 a night – a great deal in Europe, especially along the coast. Check out Lisbon and Porto, but don’t forget to also book time on the Mediterranean beaches of Algarve or on Madeira Island.
There are pricy hotels in India, but for the most part the massive country is incredibly affordable. There are some amazing sites to visit, including the Taj Mahal (yes, you should actually go), and ideally you’ll want several weeks to truly experience all that India has to offer. In the bustling city of Mumbai there are high-end hotels for only $115 a night, an especially good deal when you realize that your meals will cost only a few bucks. Be sure to spend time in Jaipur, known as the “Pink City,” where you can explore historic sites and open-air markets.