Looking for a low cost gap year? Check out these cheap gap year destinations
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Looking for a low cost gap year? Check out these cheap gap year destinations

Ready to plot out your gap year itinerary but don’t much money to play with? Slot these cheap gap year destinations into your travel plans and you’ll have a place to retreat if you burnt through too much cash during your visit to Hong Kong, Paris, or Buenos Aires.


While there are cheaper destinations in Southeast Asia on a per dollar basis, no country delivers better value for money than the Land of Smiles. Thailand offers up some of the world’s finest beaches, cuisine, and cultural attractions, all while being kind to your wallet.

Hostels can be found easily throughout the country for $10 USD per night, with bunks costing even less in Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Pai, etc). Meals can be had on the street for a buck or two, drink included. Many tours and activities can be organized for around $30 USD.

If you are undecided on where to go first on your gap year adventures, make Thailand your first stop.


Indonesia is among the world's best cheap gap year destinations

Want to get away from the tourist crowds, but still looking to save money? Indonesia and its 18,000 islands is also among Asia’s cheap gap year destinations.

While parts of Bali (Kuta Beach) has a scene you may want to avoid, you’ll find plenty of amazing surfing beaches along the island’s western shore, and there are many temples/peaceful rice fields sprinkled throughout the countryside.

Further afield, the islands of Sumatra, Lombok, Java, Flores, and many others will allow you to leave the fanny pack brigades behind, while upping the adventure ante (think crater lakes, smoking volcanoes, deserted beach islands, and temple ruins).

Like Thailand, you’ll struggle to pay more than $10 USD for budget accommodation, or more than a couple bucks for amazing food – in short, it’s an awesome country for budget travellers.

The Philippines

Not comfortable with the language barrier in place throughout much of Asia? Spend your gap year hopping from one island to the next in the Philippines. While they have a language all their own (Tagalog), most Filipinos have a strong grasp of English, if they don’t speak it fluently.

Flights and ferries between this nation’s 7,000 islands are affordable, hostels and guesthouses (while slightly more expensive than the Asian mainland) are staffed by hospitable owners, and boat tours between dream islands can be hired for $20-30 USD per day.

South Africa

South Africa is one of the globe's top quality cheap gap year destinations

Despite being fairly developed compared to the rest of the African continent, South Africa low cost of living still allows it to rank among our best cheap gap year destinations.

Expect to find plenty of beds in places like Cape Town, the Garden Route, Durban, and Johannesburg for no more than $15 USD per night, meals from budget restaurants and supermarkets cost around $4 USD, and budget safaris can be organized for only a few hundred dollars per trip.

The Balkans

The further east in Europe you go, the cheaper it gets.

In this region of Europe, The Balkans offers the best return for your travel dollar – beds cost between $10-15 USD on average, rich and flavorful meals average around $5 USD, and access to castles and historic sights will set you back only a few dollars in many places.

Budapest, Hungary is filled with incredible architecture and ruin pubs which pour absurdly cheap beer. In Croatia and Montenegro, castles, fortresses, and stunning beaches will await you.

Inland, nations like Bosnia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania offer rich culture, reminders of recent wars, and food better than your Momma’s cooking – well, almost.


When it comes to cheap gap year destinations, Nicaragua is topping more lists than ever

Want to experience Central America, but worried about crime and high costs? Nicaragua is your best bet, as it is safe and has enough destinations within its borders that will keep you busy for a month or longer without busting your budget.

Cheap beds throughout the country range between $10-15 USD per night and a plate of gallo pinto or vigorón will only set you back a couple bucks.

Culture lovers will adore Leon and Granada, party travelers may never want to leave San Juan Del Sur, and beach snobs will swoon at what they find in the Corn Islands, but they’ll never shell out an outrageous amount for the privilege of knowing these places.


While its reputation precedes it, Colombia is in the midst of emerging from the most difficult period of its history. With a peace deal having been recently signed between the government and rebel group FARC, tourism providers are eager to attract visitors – this means excellent deals for accommodation, food, and tours, on top of the already low cost of living. This makes it one of South America’s best cheap gap year destinations.

Stay in a former drug lord’s beach mansion for less than $15 USD. Get a heaving plate of bandeja paisa, considered by many to be Colombia’s national dish, for around $5 USD. Fly around the country for the same cost of taking a bus.

The value you’ll get for your money in this country, no matter whether you are in Cartagena, Medellin or anywhere else, will blow your mind.


Of all the cheap gap year destinations, would any except Peru deliver this view?

From its desert shores to the tops of its Andean peaks, Peru has plenty of attractions packed within its borders, but you won’t have to pay much to take it all in.

Bus rides and flights are well-priced, the food is incredible and generally costs no more than $4 USD per plate, and most dorm beds are situated within the $10 – $15 USD sweet spot.

Kick back on the beach in Mancora, play with cute cats in Kennedy Park in Miraflores, and trek to Manchu Picchu after touring historic Cusco – you can do it all without zeroing your bank account.

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