Budget culture travel advice

Tips from our friends

Egyptian culture tips

Danniell Saunders at our supplier of budget culture vacations, Encounters Travel, shares his tips for sampling Egyptian culture: “There are a couple of things that I think people should definitely try when they visit Egypt, but they are often a bit scared to. The first one is sheesha [a flavoured tobacco water pipe] – which was originally invented in India – ask your guide to explain what it is and give it a go. Definitely try local foods and snacks too. I always recommend people try kushari, which is a pasta and lentil based dish that’s so cheap, it’s virtually free! You get a bowl with rice, lentils and pasta, and then they give you chili oil, garlic sauce, béchamel sauce, tomatoes – and you just mix it all up. It’s delicious, filling and very nutritious.”

Packing for India

Steph Millington from our budget culture vacation supplier, Intrepid Travel, suggests what to pack for India: “Take a scarf (or buy one there). It’s a useful garment to cover up with because the heat can be searing, even when least expected, and if you’re visiting religious sites it’s appropriate to go with covered shoulders, so a scarf can come in very handy.”

Getting around Bali

Paul Cowey, Bali specialist at our supplier Rickshaw Travel, offers budget culture travel advice: “It's easy to travel around Bali. Taxis and tuk tuks, in the towns, offer loads of chances to explore - although make sure you set a price before you sit down. Haggling is part and parcel of Balinese culture and our tours include a pre-arranged price with the driver so money goes directly into local pockets without travelers feeling like they have to haggle for a bargain.”

Truck travel

Ralph Foulds from our budget culture experts, Encounters Travel, explains the merits of traveling by truck: “You won’t feel overcrowded on our trucks. The maximum group size is 24, and there are often free seats on the truck. We also offer limited dates where numbers are limited to 12 people, which guarantees you a window seat. They are a bit more expensive, but if you want to have that small group feel, and even more space, they're ideal. The windows are really big, so even if you have to share a seat, there is plenty of room to see. The windows do open so there is plenty of air blowing through. We do have seat belts in all our trucks and we put charging points in them too.”

Magnificent Mayans

Daniel Pawlyn from our budget culture tour supplier, Intrepid Travel, tells us about temple tours in Central America: “Personally, I wouldn’t worry about Chichén Itzá. It’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but I wonder how much of that can be put down to its proximity to the Mayan Riviera – so it’s firmly on the five-star, all-inclusive day trip route. For a stunning Mayan temple head to Uxmal, Palenque, Yaxchillan or down to Tikal in Guatemala. Tikal and Palenque are still jungle shrouded and you can see mounds which could be temples yet to be unearthed, see monkeys playing in the trees, and there are far fewer visitors.”

Central American eats

Tom Smith, from Intrepid Travel, extols the virtues of affordable eats in Central America: “Lobster on Caye Caulker is superb. Lobster season in Belize opens mid-June with ‘LobsterFest’ so definitely put that in your diaries. And the best thing – it won’t blow your budget. Roughly US $12 will get you a whole, freshly-caught lobster, and they even have lobster burgers! Food costs across Central America do vary quite widely from country to country. Nicaragua is very cheap with a three-course meal costing from US $10 and a beer from $1, whereas costs in Costa Rica would be approximately double that.”

Cuban homestays

Marcel, a guide with our budget culture vacation suppliers in Cuba, Latin America Journeys, explains how casas particulares (homestays) work: “People say they absolutely don't want to stay in a casa. They think that they have to socialise and are obligated to do things. But really you have your own room, and if you don't want to have any conversation with the owners it's no problem – but they are of course open – and the more you put in, the more you'll get out.”

Budget vacations travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful budget culture travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“As with all group travel, it helps to 'go with the flow' in order to get the most from your trip. I was with people who were at least 15 years younger than me and I occasionally had to remind myself that I had been their age once. You don't know what the demographic of the groups will be, it's all part of the adventure. The trip itself is more about experiencing or getting to know the culture and customs of the Vietnamese and is not a 'sightseeing tour' in the traditional sense – there is no wall to wall commentary but if you've read up a bit beforehand or take your Lonely Planet guide with you, then you can supplement the information given by the tour leader. The true value of the tour leader is their local insight.” – Gail Morris, traveling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

“Take small gifts from home to pass on to hosts you stay with – healthcare is free but medicine is very expensive so medical supplies are much appreciated: plasters, paracetamol; ibuprofen.” – Kate Davenport on a Cuba tour

“Spend time making sure the itinerary is what you want. We changed ours several times before finalising the trip and that really paid off. 7-11 convenience stores are very good for ATMs and charging IC transport cards. The most memorable part is hard to identify as the whole experience was fantastic. A few highlights include: Hakone open air museum, Kabuki at Kabukiza in Tokyo, live outdoor jazz at Rappongi Hills and traveling by shinkansen [bullet trains], which was great.” – Perwina Whitmore on a Japan tailor made tour

“A most enjoyable experience, the accommodation at times would not have been out of place on a luxury tour. The contrasting people and sights of India really do make this a unique experience. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, this tour will provide you with experiences that are very different from previous ones. Having such a cool, respected and knowledgeable guide, benefited the tour immensely.” – Jonathan Kenyon, traveling overland from Delhi to Goa

“Never used a tour operator before because we never saw the need but didn't regret it at all; didn't seem to add much to the cost and made sure we covered twice the ground in half the time, plus we had the benefit of all their experience.” – Mike Waugh, on a budget vacation in Kerala, India
Photo credits: [Egyptian culture tips: Vyacheslav Argenberg] [Getting around Bali: tajal] [Magnificent mayans: Eduardo Robles Pacheco] [Cuban homestays: Enrico Pighetti] [Tip1: Travelbusy.com] [Tip2: Travelbusy.com]
Written by Chris Owen
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