Budget culture vacations travel guide


It's hard to define a budget vacation as everyone has a different hold on their own personal purse strings. The vacations that we feature in this budget culture travel guide are ones that you would often least expect to have the words ‘great value’ or 'affordable' attached to them. Petra for a pittance? Santiago on a shoestring? Cuba on the cheap? They're all possible and yet still safe, responsible, without cutting corners. Less DIY, more: 'why not?' Maintaining a budget helps you take traveling back to basics, in every sense, on a tailor made tour or as part of a small group, sharing costs on local guides, accommodation and entrance fees in places like Central America, India or the Middle East. You'll get to live like a local, away from the high end hotels and tourist hot spots.
Homestays, street food and recommended local markets offer cultural insight without the price tag, so you can save your hard-earned vacation funds for something fun, something special.

Find out how in our Budget cultural vacations travel guide.

Culture on a budget


The essence of experiencing culture on a budget is to find out more about the people, the languages, the food, the cultural identity of a destination – or several destinations – without cutting corners on safety and without missing out on all the fun bits. Budget culture vacations are a style unto themselves and a uniquely authentic traveling experience. Traveling overland, perhaps by train or public bus, is one way to get closer to the lives, the conversations, the smiles, of local people as landscapes seamlessly morph from urban sprawl to countryside to coastline. Being invited to stay overnight in a family home is another great option for travelers seeking real life without the Photoshopped, glossy brochure imagery. Cutting costs can be as easy as traveling either side of peak seasons and school summer vacations or steering away from expensive city center hotels so you can budget for something a bit more interesting. A cooking course in Indonesia, for example, or how about a hot air balloon flight over Marrakech, or a hand-carved souvenir from Costa Rica?
Joining a small group is a great way to embark on a budget culture vacation as you share costs with likeminded travelers. You’ll also have the benefit of a tour leader and local guides to point you in the direction of affordable places to eat that only the locals know about. Small group and tailor made tours include optional activities so that you can choose how to spend your vacation savings, with plenty of free time to explore under your own steam. Organised vacations put your mind at rest in terms of safety as well as cutting down on time consuming processes, like queuing for tickets or visas and booking accommodation as well as alleviating any surprise costs that you hadn't budgeted for.

Small group tours

Sharing costs on local tour guides, accommodation, transport and entrance fees, and feeling secure about safety, thanks, in part, to a tour leader, is what makes joining a small group a really sensible idea for cultural travelers on a budget. Optional activities and plenty of free time conjure up the best of both worlds, with the added benefit of trusted local recommendations much more up-to-date than any guide book. For solo travelers, small group tours are perfect for finding folk to share the experience. Splash out on a single supplement when it comes to sleeping or be brave and share a room with someone of the same gender to cut costs even further. Knowing which places to avoid is just as important as knowing where to head to and if you’re not interested in wandering aimlessly in search of a local bar, restaurant or store to buy authentic souvenirs then it's really useful to have a tour leader to hand who can point you in the right direction.

Self guided vacations

If you're tired of the stress and hassle associated with DIY travel but would still like to retain your independence, self guided culture vacations are the bridge between both. Itineraries are thoughtfully based upon your interests with additional trip notes, written by those who have a passion for where you're visiting, adding to the confidence given by a back up team, just in case you need a hand. Matching a week of self drive routes, suggested walks and local recommendations, with a good choice of handpicked, locally owned accommodation, lets you create a really unique cultural experience that's all about making the most of your time and money. Public transport, traveling off season, homestays, street food and local restaurants, are just some of the ways you can tailor a tour to come in below budget and make a treasure trove of invaluable memories along the way.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Phalinn Ooi] [Entail self guided: Phalinn Ooi]
Written by Chris Owen
Cuba tours

Cuba tours

Tailormade vacations in the pearl of the Carribean

From 995 15 Days ex flights
Cuba cultural vacation

Cuba cultural vacation

Immerse yourself in Cuban culture on this 8 day adventure

From 635 8 Days ex flights
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh vacation in Vietnam

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh vacation in Vietnam

Capture the spirit of Vietnam on this compact adventure

From US $996 10 Days ex flights
North India cultural tour

North India cultural tour

An adventure to one of the planet's exotic destinations

From US $990 22 Days ex flights
Kerala budget holiday, tailor made

Kerala budget vacation, tailor made

Budget tailor-made vacation in Kerala

From £1675 14 Days inc UK flights
Japan tailor made tour on a shoestring

Japan tailor made tour on a shoestring

Japan's classic sights on a shoestring!

From US $1463 8 Days ex flights
Costa Rica tour

Costa Rica tour

Explore the Caribbean coast to the Pacific

From US $1452 15 Days ex flights
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