While most people think that cheap travel is an option only for the young and single backpacking set, traveling cheaply is definitely possible, even as a family.
There are plenty of interesting destinations that won’t break the bank once you’ve arrived.
It’s fairly common knowledge that you can live cheaply in Central or South America, most of Asia and any number of third world countries for relatively little however there are plenty of locations around the world that you can as well.
Here are five of our favorite international family destinations that cost us less than $100 a day that we’ve visited in the past year.
Note: We’ve personally visited all of the places in this article, and these are the prices we paid as a family of four including our two children.
To stay on $100 a day in Turkey, you’ll likely need to stay outside of Istanbul, which is every bit as expensive as it is interesting and cosmopolitan. Like Greece, we found food in Turkey to be fresh and delicious. And for the love of all that is good in the world, make sure you try the famous Turkish delight where it’s made best, at about 1 Euro for a couple of small squares. Don’t forget to try out the dondurma ice cream as well.
You can easily stay in a comfortable apartment in smaller tourist destination like Bodrum, Pamukkale or Goreme for under 70 USD a night (though you’ll need to spend more to stay in one of the gorgeous cave hotels in Goreme). One of the most friendly and welcoming hotels we stayed at was the Melis Pansiyon in the pretty port town of Bodrum, where we splashed out on the apartment for 80 a night, though the triple room rents for 65 USD (including a fresh Turkish style breakfast).
All things considered Spain is still a relatively cheap destination. To live on $100 a day comfortably, stay outside of the trendy central areas in large cities, take the local bus lines or discounted train fares, travel outside of peak season and enjoy the fresh, local food.
The good news is that you won’t have to make your own meals all the time to save money. Most neighborhood cafes in Spain are very inexpensive, and you can easily get an espresso for 1 Euro almost anywhere, and a simple dish of a fresh baguette and Manchego cheese drizzled with olive oil for another 2 Euro. Wine and beer are especially affordable. It’s possible to pick up a can of San Miguel beer for around 0.70 Euro and a decent bottle of red wine for less than 4 Euro in the local supermarkets.
You can get a room in a small apartment hotel like the spotlessly clean Exe Hall88 Apartahotel for around 65 USD in smaller cities like Salamanca, or book a longer stay on a site like Airbnb to save even more.
Just a bit cheaper than Spain (though that’s debatable), Portugal’s a fantastic destination for budget families. Like Spain, you’ll pay for the privilege of staying in the historic centers of major cities like Lisbon and Porto. To save money, stay outside the center of the city and brave the somewhat confusing transit systems, or plan a visit exploring the much less expensive rural areas of Portugal.
While Portugal overall is quite affordable, we found admission to historical attractions a bit steep. To save money, try to time your visit to take advantage of free admission times or for days with reduced fares.
Like in Spain, you’ll need to be outside of larger cities to get a vacation apartment for around 60 USD a night, though we did score a room with four beds in Porto at the quirky and charming Pedro Iberica (be sure to check out the hidden watchtower behind the garden in back!) for 62 USD a night.
Morocco hardly gets any mentions among family travelers, likely because of concerns over safety and just simple unfamiliarity. We found Morocco to be friendly and welcoming to families. That said, there’s a significant amount of culture shock involved in navigating among the chaotic streets of Marrakech, so it’s best approached with a fair bit of research and an open mind.
Traveling in Morocco for under $100 a day is simple, as long as you avoid the pricier hotels and restaurants marketed almost only to tourists. Getting there can be affordable as well, as flights to and from Europe are cheap thanks to budget airlines like RyanAir. Moroccan food (think tagines and barbecued lamb skewers) is tasty, plentiful and affordable, and accommodation in converted Moroccan houses (called riads) can be a great deal.
We stayed in the perfectly serviceable, but a little worn, Ryad Laârouss in Marrakech for 45 USD a night, including breakfast.
Greece has always been a fantastic bargain for families, and is especially cheap since the country declared bankruptcy. We were especially thrilled with Greek food, as it’s not only healthy and diverse but also affordable. The kids loved tzatziki and fresh bread, trying saganaki (flaming cheese) and rich goat’s milk feta cheese. We found one of our very favorite bakeries called To Special on the Island of Kos, where almost everything from cakes and pastries cost under 1 Euro.
A budget two bedroom apartment can easily be found for around 50 USD, even in vacation hot spots like the island of Kos, where we stayed in the bare bones Fantasia Hotel Apartments for 39 USD .
If you want keep your accommodation costs as low as possible, consider renting an apartment through a site like Airbnb. You’ll get better discounts the longer you stay, with weekly rates usually far below that of a hotel.
Want more? Check out these posts on family travel:
- How an Extended Career Break can Cost Less than your Last Vacation
- 31 Helpful Family Travel Tips
- Why Travel with Kids is Amazing