The biggest myth about travel is that travel isn’t cheap. Traveling can even save you money—especially if you AirBnB out your place while you’re gone. Between the strength of the USD and finding cheap flights being easier than ever, traveling is easier than ever before. Pick your destination right and it can be insanely cheap, even if you’re living in luxury.
People think of Egypt as nothing but some pyramids in the desert, but there’s plenty more to do. Whether you want to swim with dugongs or visit an actual oasis, Egypt is the place for you. The thing I love most is the incredible diversity: From the mountains of Sinai to the dream-diving of Dahab, this is a country that really has it all. The White Desert is famous, and rightly so, with its geological formations that make you feel you’re on an alien planet, and southern cities like Aswan might as well be on a different continent. Plus, Egypt is a cheap country for Americans: We’re talking five dollars a night for a nice hotel. All in all, Egypt is one of those hidden vacation destinations that doesn’t get enough press, with a rich history and hopping art scene that offers anything you could desire.
2) Cyclades, Greece
You’ve probably heard of Santorini or Crete, and if you haven’t, think big bucks. These are the islands people go to get married on, and to get married in style. What most people don’t know, however, is that there’s hundreds of islands, many of them incredibly beautiful, and incredibly cheap in the off season. When I stayed on the small island of Donoussa off of Naxos in the autumn I was able to get an entire apartment to myself for only 15 euros a night. Wow! And that had a beach view, not to mention a central location next to local restaurants and bars. The camping is also amazing, not to mention free. Getting off the beaten track has its rewards, so these islands are not only beautiful but cheap, giving you a taste of Europe without those European prices.
3) Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut is one of those hidden gems within the middle east, but its nightlife is making it known throughout the world. With bars, great restaurant, Beirut is like a great Western city on a non-Western budget, where you can do everything, eat everything, buy everything, all with breathtaking ocean views. Lebanon is tiny and easy to travel through, so day trips can take you easily through varied landscape, from ancient mountain towns to the Greek-style ruins in Tyre. With its French culture and delicious cuisine, Lebanon is one of those interesting places that just doesn’t get enough press.
4) Berlin, Germany
In the land of pricey Germany lies the country’s little contradiction: Berlin. Full of artists and immigrants, Berlin is the kind of place you can go to an art gallery for free and get a delicious meal for 2€. Plane tickets aren’t too expensive to get there, and once you’re there oh, the places you’ll go! From alternative clubs where you have to get past intimidating bouncers (yes, I got rejected from one) to amazing museums, Berlin has both history and a pulse. Head here if you like the post-apocalypse art vibe, or just if you really like Sudanese food (because now I love it.)
5) Osh, Kyrgystan
I know, I know, if you can’t pronounce it why go to it, but hear me out. When I heard Kyrgyzstan was the ‘Switzerland of the East,’ I really thought, ‘Yeah, right.’ But man, was I was wrong! Kyrgyzstan, with its mountain valleys and lakes that look like something out of a particularly airbrushed dream, is even more beautiful than Switzerland—not to mention, for a small percentage of the price. This is the most varied, breathtaking mountainous landscape you’re likely to see in your lifetime, with views and nature that will leave you spellbound. The culture is Russian-meets-Turkey, and the people are the friendliest you’re likely to meet. Travel throughout the country to get the full experience, with Osh being the most culturally interesting city to stay in. Moneywise you’re looking at around $10 for a room, and the food is fresh and delicious. Winter is probably best to be avoided, although those mountain peaks covered in snow is probably a vision worth freezing for.