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Travelling the world on a budget

It’s becoming more and more common for final-year students to schedule in some downtime from education in the form of gap year. For many, it’s about experiencing as many different cultures as possible, so it’s unsurprising that they can be pricey.

Travelling on a budget for a gap year

But don’t let this put you off! There are lots of ways to make gap years affordable, from being clued up on the exchange rates (H&T’s travel money guide will help) to getting a job while you’re out there.
Being savvy with your choice of destinations will also mean you get to explore the world without a worry! Read on to learn about some of our favourite budget-friendly countries.

Before visiting any Asian countries, be aware that there are certain behavioural traditions to follow. Brief yourself with our guide to Asian customs and etiquettes before you go, to ensure you are adhering to the cultural norms and expectations.

One of the most popular traveller destinations every year, with so many islands to choose from it’s impossible to run out of things to do in this beautiful country. Showcasing intricately designed temples, amazing sky bars and offering traditional Thai meals (check out Tourism Thailand’s guide to Thai food to see what you should be trying) for under £2 per dish, there’s no wonder why travellers always find themselves here.


Cambodia can offer an entirely inexpensive trip for any traveller, with its must-see temples, beaches and pre-historic cities, there’s so much to do for free. From being schooled on a topic of interest by the locals in quick presentations to watching the monks’ procession through the city of Phnom Penh at 6am, there’s something for everyone.


Once you’ve filled up on traditional Indian dishes, what better way to walk it off then taking in the country’s stunning architecture. Of course, the Taj Mahal is a must-see, but the Konark Sun Temple and Qutub Minar are also well worth visiting. Visits to these places are more expensive for non-locals, but will prove great value given that they include transport, entry tickets and guide fees.

Europe Europe

Europe doesn't always come to mind for gap years: most people associate it with expensive city breaks. But, it’s possible to visit on a budget if you plan and prioritise places and landmarks you want to see.


With scenic views for miles, your days will be taken up by absorbing historic landmarks like the Buda Castle, the underground Castle Labyrinth and the Hungarian parliament building. If you’re into art and history, there is an annual Night of the Museums event held every June — with adult ticket prices as low as £5 — which grants you admittance to many of the most famous museums and galleries in the city of Budapest.


If you want to get really cultured, head to Berlin to check out the vibrant hub of German history. The major attractions here are all mainly free or low-cost, with the likes of the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie and the Jewish Museum proving popular with many tourists.

South America

With the flights being long-haul, South America and budget-friendly seem rather contradictory of each other. However, you can get a good deal by using a comparison site like Skyscanner.


If you’re needing some downtime from the vibrant party scene in Europe, Mexico can be the perfect stop. Top tips for saving extra pennies in this country include sticking to local delicacies (like BBC Good Food’s must-try Mexican dishes), using public transport and heading inland to avoid the tourist areas. You can visit places like the Chapultepec Zoo, Palacio de Bellas Artes and Centro Historico for free.



Ecuador’s high altitude makes its spring-like weather last all year round. With very low prices for practically everything you can think of, it’s the perfect city to travel on a budget. Beautiful architecture gives it a real cultural feel, with must-see landmarks including the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo and the Catredal Vieja.

We hope our guide will help you stay on budget on your gap year. Bon voyage!