When it comes to international travel, many people tend to think of major cities like London, Dubai, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, and others. While these are all beautiful places, they can also be very expensive.
During my journey as a digital nomad, I’ve learned that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on international travel to have a great time.
So, for all of my budget travellers out there, I’ve compiled this list of some of the cheapest places to travel from Canada.
Let’s take an adventure!
Cheapest Travel Destinations In The US
If you’re new to travelling or have never been out of the country before, taking a trip to the US is a great way to dip your toes in the water. The US is very similar to Canada in terms of culture and finance.
It’s also our neighbouring country, so crossing the border is relatively simple and round-trip flights are more affordable compared to long-distance overseas flights.
This is also why many Canadians choose to retire in the US.
Here are a few of the more affordable travel destinations down south.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
- Key Attractions: Casinos and high-end shopping on “the strip,” boxing matches, “old Vegas,” live art and music performances
- Learn More: visitlasvegas.com
Las Vegas is an oasis in the desert state of Nevada. It’s known as the gambling capital of the world and is home to an impressive array of luxurious casinos, event venues, and high-end shopping.
While you may assume that all of this luxury would come with a high cost, the reality is quite the opposite.
Thanks to tourism initiatives, flights to the city are generally very affordable. Additionally, many of the hotels are owned by casinos. These casinos often offer affordable rates on hotel rooms in hopes that you’ll spend your extra money gambling in their casinos.
This is entirely optional (remember – the house always wins).
Recently, I saw that the Luxor (the giant pyramid-shaped, Egyptian-themed casino/hotel) was offering rooms for as low as $60 per night!
Casinos aside, Vegas is a bustling city with an incredible nightlife scene featuring top-tier clubs and nightly performances. It’s also a hub for international business and networking.
If you’re really on a tight budget, simply walking through the casinos and hotels to admire the art and architecture is a great way to spend an evening.
2. New York City, New York
- Key Attractions: Times Square, Brooklyn, The Empire State Building, Central Park
- Learn More: nyctourism.com
While New York City isn’t exactly cheap when it comes to accommodations, it’s just an eight-hour drive from Toronto and a six-hour drive from Montreal.
Road trips are a great way to have fun on a budget, as they’re often cheaper than booking international flights. Once you get to NYC, you could always sleep in your car or stay a few nights at a hostel.
3. Phoenix, Arizona
- Key Attractions: Downtown Phoenix, Sedona, Desert Botanical Garden
- Learn More: visitarizona.com
Phoenix is one of the largest (and cheapest) cities in the US. Arizona’s beautiful desert landscape will seem like an alien world compared to the snow and ice we’re used to in Canada.
Downtown Phoenix is a fun city to visit and has a vibrant Latin-American culture. The beautiful red rocks and energy vortexes of Sedona are just a two-hour drive north of the city.
4. Orlando, Florida
- Key Attractions: Walt Disney World, natural springs, Universal Studios
- Learn More: visitorlando.com
Orlando lies in central Florida and is best known for being the home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios – two massive theme parks that are great for family vacations.
While these parks are generally expensive, Costco has been known to offer affordable travel packages.
If you drive an hour west of the city, you can also experience the beautiful natural springs of the Florida Everglades. Ginnie Springs is a great place to swim and dive in crystal-clear springs, and you can also camp there overnight!
5. Portland, Oregon
- Key Attractions: Portland Japanese Garden, rocky coastline, local eats
- Learn More: travelportland.com
Just a six-hour drive south of Vancouver, B.C., Portland offers a great mix of urban and natural attractions.
Visitors can explore Powell’s City of Books, the Japanese Garden, stroll through Washington Park, or simply enjoy the vibrant food truck scene.
Portland is known for being an affordable city due to its lack of sales tax, reasonably priced public transportation, and relatively lower housing costs compared to major metropolitan areas.
It’s also the home of Nike founder Phil Knight – who’s an incredible entrepreneur to read up on.
Affordable Travel Destinations: Central America
Moving on south, we have the continent of Central America, which is home to countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Technically speaking, Mexico is geographically considered part of North America. However, the United Nations groups Mexico in with Central America for statistical purposes.
6. Mexico City, Mexico
- Key Attractions: Zócalo Square, street food, Chapultepec Castle
- Learn More: visitmexico.com
When it comes to cheap places, you can’t go wrong with Mexico, thanks to its extremely favourable exchange rate.
Mexico City (or “CDMX”) offers a wealth of attractions, from the historic Zócalo Square to the renowned Frida Kahlo Museum and the majestic Chapultepec Castle.
The street food is absolutely incredible as well.
While many locals in the city speak a bit of English, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with some basic Spanish vocabulary.
The only downside is the high rate of theft and pickpocketing. I recommend travelling light and wearing basic clothing to avoid undue attention.
7. Oaxaca, Mexico
- Key Attractions: Beaches, local food, mural walks
- Learn More: oaxaca.com
If the hustle and bustle of CDMX isn’t your thing, consider the seaside city of Oaxaca. This small city has a rich history, delicious street food, and some of the country’s most beautiful white sand beaches.
It’s also one of the safest places to visit in Mexico and has a relatively low crime rate compared to larger tourist destinations.
8. San Jose, Costa Rica
- Key Attractions: Beaches, rainforests, holistic centres and retreats
- Learn More: visitcosatrica.com
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica. The country offers incredible beaches and lush rainforests, is very tourist-friendly, and has a large population of English-speaking expats.
Costa Rica is one of the best places for digital nomads to visit thanks to its generous digital nomad visa, which allows eligible travellers to stay for a year at a time and can be renewed annually.
It’s also a great place for a shorter vacation, as it doesn’t have any visa requirements (just a valid passport).
9. Antigua, Guatemala
- Key Attractions: Hiking, city markets, Aituga Guatemala Cathedral
- Learn More: aroundantigua.com
With its colonial beauty, rich culture, and dirt-cheap hotel prices, Antigua is one of the cheapest destinations in Central America.
The volcanic mountains and rain forests surrounding the city are excellent for hiking or an offroad expedition.
10. San Salvador, El Salvador
- Key Attractions: Downtown city, San Salvador Cathedral
- Learn More: elsalvador.travel
El Salvador offers a mix of history and affordable modernity. The food here is excellent and incredibly affordable (thanks to the exchange rate).
Key attractions include the San Salvador Cathedral and exploring the Joya de Cerén archaeological site.
San Salvador doesn’t have a large English-speaking population, so you may want to hire a tour guide if you’re not at least conversational in Spanish.
Affordable Travel Destinations: South America
Moving south of the equator, South America is home to a number of beautiful and affordable Spanish-speaking countries.
11. Medellin, Colombia
- Key Attractions: Mural art tours, nightlife, jungle tours
- Learn More: colombia.travel
If you’re looking for a low-cost vacation to South America, Medellin won’t disappoint. While many associate the city with its cartel history and the infamous Pablo Escobar (thanks to the Netflix hit show Narcos), the city has long since moved past that.
Today, it’s known for its vibrant arts and cultural scene, great food, cheap modern hotels, and natural parks.
12. Santiago, Chile
- Key Attractions: Beaches, mountains, the desert, and, of course – the city
- Learn More: chile.travel
Cradled by the natural beauty of the Andes, Santiago merges cosmopolitan flair with a bit of historical charm and a vibrant culture.
Visit the hilltop sanctuary of Cerro San Cristóbal, delve into history at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and taste some authentic Chilean wines.
If you like food, definitely try the country’s specialty – empanadas. If you’re tired of the city, there are tons of natural attractions in the surrounding regions and tours that will help you get your adventure fix.
13. Lima, Peru
- Key Attractions: local ceviche, Machu Picchu, pyramids at the Miraflores
- Learn More: peru.travel
Lima is an unbeatable choice for travellers looking for a mix of ancient history with the charm of a seaside city.
This is a great place for an adventure, from the scenic cliffs of Miraflores to the Larco Museum and Machu Picchu (a four-hour train ride from Lima).
Locals don’t speak much English, so it helps to be conversational in Spanish or enlist a tour guide. Also, be sure to try the ceviche – it’s some of the best in the world!
14. La Paz, Bolivia
- Key Attractions: world’s highest cable car, local markets, local food
- Learn More: tripadvisor.com (La Paz)
Located a 25-hour drive south of Lima, La Paz, Bolivia, offers an unforgettable experience without the hefty price tag.
Bolivia is a very cheap country, has incredible food and culture, and you can view the breathtaking peaks of the Andes from the centre of La Paz.
La Paz is home to the world’s highest cable cars, a Witches’ Market, and takes pride in its indigenous heritage. Like Peru, learning basic Spanish is a good idea before travelling here.
Affordable Travel Destinations: Europe
European countries like the UK, Germany, and France are often known for being expensive.
Travelling to a popular tourist destination like London or Paris can be a lot of fun, but it will set you back financially. Thankfully, plenty of more affordable destinations offer similar charm and culture.
15. Budapest, Hungary
- Key Attractions: Buda Castle, Great Market Hall, local Hungarian food
- Learn More: budapestinfo.hu
In Eastern Europe, Budapest offers history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant nightlife scene. You can also book boutique hotels and unique experiences at prices that won’t break the bank.
If you’re trying to save money, I recommend checking out the natural thermal baths, walking down the Danube River, and trying the local Hungarian cuisine.
Explore Buda Castle, the bustling Great Market Hall, and the historic Jewish Quarter if you enjoy architecture.
16. Porto, Portugal
- Key Attractions: The Riviera, local wineries, streetside markets
- Learn More: visitportugal.com
While you may have heard of Lisbon (Portugal’s capital city), its sister city of Porto is lesser known. Set on the coastline by the Douru River, this city offers incredible beauty and affordability.
Check out its historic cobbled streets, savour the local “port wine,” and watch the sunset by the river.
One of the great things about Porto is the large number of English-speaking locals, which makes it very friendly to Canadian travellers. You also don’t need a special visa to enter the country, just a valid passport.
17. Athens, Greece
- Key Attractions: The Parthenon and other ancient architecture, Athens nightlife, local seafood
- Learn More: visitgreece.gr
While many envision Greece for its costly all-inclusive resorts, Athens is one of Europe’s most budget-friendly destinations.
If you’re a fan of ancient Greek mythology, a trip to the Acropolis and the Parthenon is definitely in order. To get a better feel for the culture, wander the vibrant Plaka neighbourhood and try the local Greek cuisine (which is quite affordable).
While Greek is the primary language here, many of the city’s residents also speak conversational English due to the high number of tourists.
18. Prague, Czech Republic
- Key Attractions: Charles Bridge, Old Town Square
- Learn More: prague.eu
The city of Prague is over 1,100 years old and is steeped in ancient history.
If you like Gothic and Baroque architecture, the iconic Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock are must-sees. The local ambiance at the Old Town Square is worth experiencing, as are the hearty Czech meals found at local eateries.
The city’s historic buildings are blended into the amenities of a modern city, and there’s a great local nightlife and hospitality scene for those who want to socialize or enjoy a night out.
Though Czech is the predominant language here, the city is friendly to tourists, and many people speak conversational English, especially near the city centre.
Affordable Travel Destinations: Asia
While Europe offers the familiarity of Western countries, Asia offers the opportunity to experience vastly different cultures, cuisines, art, and history.
Southeast Asia, in particular, is known for being very affordable, and it’s not uncommon for Canadians to retire there.
19. Bali, Indonesia
- Key Attractions: Surfing at Uluwatu Beach, snorkeling, yoga retreats, jungle hiking and off-roading
- Learn More: bali.com
Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia, and Bali is its tourist centre. It’s also home to a large number of expats and digital nomads, so it’s a great first place to travel to as an English speaker.
The island offers a vibrant mix of ancient culture, lush landscapes, and surfing hotspots. As a digital nomad, I lived and worked in Bali while I freelanced and launched Wealth Awesome.
There are lots of co-working spots with fast internet, and food/accommodations are very affordable compared to my hometown of Vancouver.
From sports enthusiasts to online entrepreneurs, yoga teachers, and honeymooners, you’ll meet a diverse range of people in addition to the local inhabitants.
20. Manila, Philippines
- Key Attractions: Manila Kadampa Buddhist Centre, local food, Fort Santiago
- Learn More: philippines.travel
While the Philippine Islands are known for their beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes, the city of Manila is a great example of the country’s urban modernization.
Trading skyscrapers, hotels, condos, and businesses line Manila’s energetic streets. However, there’s also a fusion of history, as you’ll find in the city’s local parks, temples, and protected historic buildings.
One of the great things about travelling in the Philippines is that a large portion of residents speak English, making it very friendly for Western travellers.
21. Hanoi, Vietnam
- Key Attractions: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, city markets, Chua Huong
- Learn More: vietnam.travel
Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi blends centuries-old architecture, buzzing streets, and serene lakes into one large, diverse city.
Despite its modern city atmosphere, there’s a deep sense of culture and tradition here, which visitors can experience in the local cuisine, city markets, and historic landmarks.
There’s also a favourable exchange rate in Vietnam, making it an excellent destination for budget travellers. Hanoi is also a very safe city with a low crime rate, so it’s a good option for solo travellers.
Affordable Travel Destinations: Africa
Africa is full of history and culture. Many of the continent’s cities are also quite affordable. These are some of the cheapest.
22. Cairo, Egypt
- Key Attractions: The Great Pyramids, bazaar markets, Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
- Learn More: tripadvisor.com (Cairo)
If you’re a history buff (or simply enjoyed Indiana Jones), walking through Cairo feels almost like stepping back in time. The city seamlessly blends ancient wonders like the pyramids into contemporary culture with a modern city.
English is widely spoken in addition to Arabic, making it a tourist-friendly city. Egyptian cuisine and hospitality are both incredible and affordable, and the city has a number of budget-friendly accommodations.
23. Marrakech, Morocco
- Key Attractions: Bahia Palace, spice souks, Menara Gardens
- Learn More: visitmorocco.com
Nestled at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is known for its historic architecture, vibrant medinas, lush gardens, cafes, and markets.
Walking through the street, you’ll often hear the rhythmic sounds of traditional Moroccan music, smell incredible food from street vendors, and be able to shop with the city’s many talented artisans.
It’s also a very affordable country, home to many budget hotels, and is full of friendly, hospital people.
While the city experienced a major (and deadly) earthquake in September 2022, much of the city and its historic architecture still remain. Before booking a trip here, it’s a good idea to double-check and verify your plans.
How To Find Cheap Flights From Canada
Often, the most expensive part about visiting these cheap travel destinations is the cost of airline tickets. Once you arrive, you can be a frugal traveller and control how much you spend.
One of the best ways to save money on air travel is to book your trip months in advance. The closer of a departure date you select, the more the ticket is going to cost you.
Google Flights is also a great resource that allows you to view historic flight price data and set price alerts so you can get the best deal.
Looking for more ways to travel the world on a budget? Check out these travel hacks next!