Are activities & meals included?

Be sure to find out exactly what's included, and what's not, when working out which cultural vacation will give you more bang for your buck. Some tours include loads of daily activities as part of the overall package, which comes with a higher, up front price tag. Alternatively, tours offering a range of optional activities and free time to explore can be much more affordable – although they will involve spending when you’re there. They also allow you to be more independent. Check which meals are included too and whether you'll have a chance to have an evening out in a local restaurant or browse a night market rather than all meals under the same roof or at set restaurants.

Tailor made or small group?

Tailor made tours are generally pricier than small group travel; however, chatting to a destination specialist to create an experience without the built in activities will allow you to find a price that's actually a lot more reasonable than initially anticipated. Do you want to join a tailor made tour of Bali, for example, so you can explore amongst the rice terraces and local fishing villages under your own steam? Would a small group tour of Costa Rica be more beneficial for your budget? Will your tour feature a local guide, group leader, and interpreter or will you need to pay for these sorts of services locally? If so, will tips be included and can these costs be shared by joining a group?

What about accommodation?

What will the accommodation be like? Will a single bedroom supplement allow you to find your own space, when you want to, rather than constantly being part of the crowd? Can you stay with a local family in a homestay or upgrade to a more comfortable hotel if a little bit of comfort is something you might prefer after traveling a long distance? Can you share a room, camp, or sleep in a dorm or opt for a single supplement if you'd prefer a bit of privacy?

Travel & living costs

Getting to a destination should also be taken into account when organising a budget culture vacation; research airlines and be sure to find out exactly where you'll disembark rather than having to shell out on a costly transfer because you've landed miles from anywhere. And of course, the destination will be of huge significance to what you spend with countries like India, Nepal and Vietnam offering affordable options on arrival to balance the initial outlay on long haul flights. Meanwhile, Japan is never going to be a truly cheap choice – but our vacation experts can still help you find the most affordable way to travel there, with budget accommodation and economical rail passes.

Of course, there are plenty of culturally important sites and cities to visit that won't break the bank if traveling from the UK with Egypt, Morocco and Turkey just some of the options, closer to home. Once you’ve arrived, local buses, trains and ferries are often more affordable and often more enjoyable alternatives to private transport. Sleeper trains are also a great idea for negotiating long distances whilst cutting costs on additional accommodation at the same time.

When should I travel?

Budget culture vacations with kids don't always go hand in hand as it's best to travel outside of times governed by school vacations when flights and accommodation can be notoriously expensive. Traveling outside of peak seasons is also recommended if you're looking for culture instead of crowds with several affordable eastern European cities in the winter simply bristling with frosty charm as you seek out art galleries, interior frescos and steaming bowls of seasonal soup.

Don't scrimp on safety

It should go without saying that budget culture vacations aren't about cutting corners when it comes to choosing tried and tested accommodation, trusted local guides or taking out travel insurance. Your safety and security as a responsible traveler should be paramount, so don't take risks when it comes to balancing what you can and can't afford. This also applies to local experiences; our vacations aim to support local people, boost incomes and conserve landscapes. We believe travel can be respectful regardless of how much you have to spend, so be sure to tip, seek out local artisans, respect your hosts and follow local etiquette, ensuring your budget vacation is richer for all.
Photo credits: [Are activities and meals included?: Beatrice Murch] [Accommodation: Martin Hosie, Uncover the World] [When to travel: fusion-of-horizons]
Written by Chris Owen
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