One of the biggest misconceptions about tour travel is that it’s too expensive for budget travelers. That’s why many people opt to don a backpack and venture out on their own. However, you can have the comfort of a planned itinerary -- and a group to enjoy a destination with -- for a fraction of the usual cost.
Also known as shoestring tours, these tours stretch your money the farthest. Accommodations can be private or shared hotel rooms, hostels, or campgrounds. Some activities on budget tours are simply add-ons, allowing you to get there for cheap and customize your experience to exactly what you want with nothing you don't.
Budget tours are a great way to explore exotic cultures in foreign lands that you never thought you could afford. Your budget doesn't have to keep you from seeing the sunset on the Sahara Desert or swimming in the unspoiled sandy beaches of Southeast Asia.
Spain is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe, where you can eat and drink well for less money than other countries in Europe. A group tour can provide an affordable way to see the country's major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. You'll get to learn all about the history and architecture of the country, seeing iconic sights like the Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra of Granada. Budget tours offer a lot of free time to connect with your tour mates and stroll through the coolest parts of the city.
A well-planned budget tour can give you a glimpse of Vietnam's highlights. You might find yourself lounging on a beach in Nha Trang or browsing the markets and chowing down on street food in Ho Chi Minh City. Aside from affordable tour options, the food and shopping are generally very cheap all around the country, so you can splurge on souvenirs and snacks without spending too much. Budget tours to Vietnam often make use of night trains to combine transportation and accommodation in an affordable way.
Budget tours in Morocco are a great way to get in touch with Moroccan culture because many of them make use of traditional guesthouses called riads as accommodations. You'll be guided through the meandering markets of Marrakesh and Fes and welcomed with a warm cup of mint tea everywhere you go. These adventurous African tours often include one or more nights of camping in the Sahara Desert where you'll travel by camel and enjoy fresh-made meals.
It's possible to have bucket list experiences like swimming in the Dead Sea and seeing Petra on a budget. Budget tours of Jordan include air-conditioned transportation and budget hotel accommodations so you can travel comfortably without spending too much. These tours offer history, ancient architecture, and natural wonders. Your expert guide can help you navigate the main sights of the country while keeping you safe and giving you an in-depth look at life in Jordan.
Sometimes luxury travel separates you so much from the culture that you're visiting that you learn nothing about it. The best part about budget tours is that they allow you to experience life how locals do instead of from the suite of a five-star hotel. You might stay in a guesthouse and have meals with your hosts, learning about their customs and way of life. Your guide can also provide you with invaluable information about the history and modern-day norms to help you navigate your destination and a culture so different from your own.
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Budget tours are a great way to experience the great outdoors. Since campground accommodations are often very affordable, you can discover the unique regions of a country outside the bustling cities. From snow-capped mountains to sunny coasts, budget tours can take you to the wildest areas, where you might come face to face with wildlife and experience the kinds of sunsets you'll remember forever.
You don't always have to pay a premium to see the most remote areas of the world. A budget tour can take you anywhere you've dreamed of, from the rice fields of Vietnam to the temples of Petra. These are a good way to do things you've never done before like ride a camel or go surfing on a tiny Asian island. Many exciting excursions await you all over the world as long as you have the courage to try them.
Planning Your Trip
Budget tours prices vary based on what's included, which is why they are so affordable. Planning for a budget tour requires you to pay close attention to the fine print to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck and the experience that you want.
What to Look for in a Budget Tour
The downsides of budget tours are also the upsides. Traditional tours often include a lot of activities that may or may not interest you but are charged as part of the package. Budget tours can be more pared down, allowing you to pick and choose the excursions you want to add to your tour for a fee. This can help you save and have a more personalized experience.
Budget tours also offer a variety of accommodation options, which is where most travelers want a comfortable experience. You should consider whether you're okay with camping or staying at a hostel with other travelers when you choose a tour. Many budget tours offer private accommodations for a single person supplement if private accommodations are not standard.
Common Types of Budget Tours
Everyone's travel style is different. Whether you prefer a more active experience or you want to learn all about the history of the place you're visiting, there's a perfect budget tour for your interests. Budget tours can be large or small, so you can be selective about how you want to travel. Adventure and nature tours may include a lot of interesting experiences and excursions that are optional, so you can do exactly what you want and nothing you don't.
Typical Tour Cost
Believe it or not, you can secure a spot on a week-long budget tour in Europe or Africa for around $600. This typically includes accommodations at either a modest hotel or hostel. Some budget camping tours can be as little as $300 or $400. The only thing to consider is that many activities are not included in the cost, so if you want to explore everything a city has to offer, you may be paying a bit more out of pocket when you arrive.
Other Tips for Budget Tours
Travel insurance is rarely covered in the cost of budget tours, but it's not a bad idea to get yourself covered in the event that you get sick or injured. This is especially true if you're traveling to a place where the food or water might make you sick or you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors. Make sure that you have all the necessary vaccines to visit your destination in order to avoid sickness.