Most Budget-Friendly Destinations To Spend Your Gap Year

Although we’ve been a couch potato for the past year, I know you would want to make this the best year ever by traveling and experiencing new adventures.

However, budget is the most important thing to consider when you are considering a gap year or traveling abroad.

While there are many amazing places to go for a gap year, some destinations are more affordable than others. You’ll need to choose the right destination if you want to keep your gap year budget small.

Here’s a list with the best budget-friendly options for gap year travelers and backpackers who have been bitten by wanderlust!


The Land of Smiles is undoubtedly the most loved destination for gap years.

You can easily manage your stay, food, transport, and accommodation in Bangkok with a $20 daily budget. There are many options available for those who want to take it slow and stay a bit longer in this beautiful Southeast Asian country.

Thailand offers a wide range of activities for backpackers and gap year travellers, including Thai Boxing classes, exploring floating markets, volunteering for elephants, and cooking lessons. You can also enjoy island hopping, water sports and chilling on the beaches.

You can’t go wrong backpacking in Thailand.


India is a backpacker’s paradise. It’s beautiful and affordable! India is a country so diverse that it is often said that one lifetime is not enough for India’s vastness.

You’ll be unable to visit all of India’s great attractions, including the Himalayas in north and the Indian Ocean south.

It’s as easy as ‘Eat Pray Love’ to navigate this beautiful country. You can start your journey in New Delhi, the capital city. Stay there for a few days.

You can feel the culture shock, and then take in the chaos of the new place before you move on. Varanasi (the religious hotspots), Rishikesh, Jaisalmer (to feel the bliss of desert camping), Mumbai and Goa (from which Bollywood originated), Pondicherry (the French colony), and Calcutta (“The City of Joy”)

You can’t miss the beauty of the Taj Mahal when you’re in India, but you must!


You might consider Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha 2500 years ago, if you are looking for something more spiritual as a gap year destination.

This Himalayan hamlet was named ‘The Most Budget-Friendly Destination’ in 2017 by Lonely Planet. Its peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking beauty will take your breath away. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is a major religious center. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of temples as well as sadhus who will shower you with blessings. You can’t miss the sunrise in Bhaktapur or a boat ride through the peaceful village of Pokhara. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Chitwan National Park will be a delight for animal lovers.

Volunteering is a great way to make a positive impact on the Nepalese community. Mountain lovers and adventurers alike should not miss out on the opportunity to trek in the Himalayas.


All wanderlustful souls should explore Cambodia without second thoughts!

You’ll find beautiful islands and breathtaking beaches while backpacking through this mysterious land. Also, you can visit amazing temples and enjoy the delicious Khmer cuisine. The ruins of Angkor are the most visited UNESCO Heritage Site in the world, with Cambodia topping the list. You’ll only be able to experience its essence once you visit it.

Cambodia is not just about Angkor. The country also has a dark history during the Khmer Rouge, and slowly moved forward towards development. The current decade has seen Cambodia become a popular destination for travelers from around the globe who want to experience a culture immersion on a budget. You can get a can of beer for 25 cents and rent a hostel bed for $2. Are you already tempted?


The land where the Inca Civilization once thrived is undoubtedly a treasure trove for backpackers.

Peru is a great destination for gap-year travelers. There’s so much to see and do in Peru that you won’t run out of time. Exploring Peru is an exciting adventure that will surprise and delight. Peru is more than Machu Picchu.

Begin your journey in Lima, the capital of Peru. Then head to Arequipa. Later, you will move to Cusco and take a hike to Machu Picchu to see the ruins. You can also hike the Inca Trail. A Spanish Language Learning Course can be enrolled, which will add to your Peruvian expedition.

Spend enough time in the country to learn about the rich past and observe the culture and live the celebrations.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is often misunderstood as a costly country in Latin America. Instead, many travelers choose to travel to the more affordable destinations such as Panama and Nicaragua.

Costa Rica isn’t as expensive than you might think. You can’t miss this place of Pura Vida (Pure Life), with its amazing biodiversity, adventure sports options, natural hot springs, and beautiful beaches.

You don’t have to worry if you’re looking for a gap-year experience in Costa Rica with a tight budget. It’s possible to rent accommodation for $7-10 per night, even better if you are able to find Couchsurfing options. You can also eat in the local Tico restaurants and “sodas” which are far from major tourist areas. The capital city of San Jose, Montezuma (a charming beach town) and La Fortuna (a volcano park), are all worth a visit.

Plan your trip so you have time to enjoy nature. Use your camera to capture amazing photos of scarlet macaws and jaguars as well as howler monkeys and sloths. You should also go bird watching in Costa Rica.


What comes to mind when you think about Turkey? It’s probably not on your list of places to go for a gap year.

Turkey is a country that acts as a bridge between Asia & Europe. Its stunning landscapes and unique history have made it a popular destination for backpacking and gap years. You can travel the country easily with a daily budget between $15 and $20. Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, has an old-world charm that makes it a great place to soak up Turkish culture and enjoy the delicious cuisine.

Visit the historical towns of Selcuk, Pamukkale and Goreme. Spend enough time on the coast of Kekova and be amazed at the stunning beauty of the ruins from the ancient Roman Empire. On your return to home, you can visit the local Turkish markets to pick up souvenirs. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, Cappadocia can be visited!


Albania is a cheaper option to Italy and Greece, but still offers all that the Mediterranean has to offer.

There are many unique attractions in the country, including stunning mountain views and forgotten archeological sites.

To get a bird’s eye view of Tirana and the capital city, Tirana, start your journey by hiking up Mount Dajti. You can also take a stroll through the Albanian countryside, stopping at the horseshoe-shaped Saranda beach. Enjoy delicious Balkan burek, a flaky pastry stuffed with cheese or meat, while you’re in this Adriatic paradise.

Looking for help with organizing your gap year

Global Work & Travel can help you arrange working abroad experiences all around the globe that are ideal for a gap year – including au pairing, teaching abroad and summer camp.

They offer a comprehensive package that includes work placements, insurance and accommodation as well as ongoing support.

Now that you have a list of the best budget-friendly destinations for a gap year, you can start researching and choosing the country that interests you most to embark on an adventure abroad. If you don’t wish to travel to any of these budget-friendly destinations, you can always work in the UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. It is easier to travel longer distances if you work while traveling.

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