Very Cheap International Vacation
January 7, 2015 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Help us leave the U.S. this fall for somewhere very inexpensive. We have three requirements: $4,000 total budget for two people for 10 - 14 days including flights; vegetarian food be available, plentiful preferred; relatively safe. That's it.

We are completely fine sleeping in hostels or someone's house, eating food from grocery stores and skipping expensive attractions and cities. I did Croatia, Bosnia and Romania for two months on $1,500 6 years ago. Flights are more expensive now, so I tried to allow for that in my budget. (I'd be happy to return to that area if it is still crazy cheap.) Recent experience highly desired, I know things can change quickly.
posted by stoneweaver to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
What city and state are you starting from?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:05 AM on January 7, 2015

We'll start from ABQ.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:07 AM on January 7, 2015

The budget is fairly reasonable really anywhere in the world. (maybe not Australia because of the flight costs). Vegetarian may differ.

The key: Please look into signing up for credit card bonuses so at least one of the flights is free.
Start here.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Late in the fall - November on? - Taiwan is usually free of typhoons and is also excellent value for money, compact, veg-friendly, and very safe. Two weeks could really take in a lot of the island and perhaps allow a stopover on the way home/there - Kyoto/Nara for a couple days to enjoy the foliage would be a lovely pairing with Taipei!
posted by mdonley at 8:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like American Airlines Vacations. They do this magical thing with Air Fare and Hotel, it's like getting the hotel for free. Add on a rental car (I don't like to drive in Europe) or excursions. We did a deal with them for NYC in a suite at the Essex House that I'm still talking about.

The best thing is that you'll have someone who can help you if for some reason something gets jammed up. As opposed to dealing with a hostel or Airbnb.

For example, there's a deal where you can go to a suburb of Paris for $3250 for 14 days, leaving the rest of your money for food and activities. Get a transit pass, and a ParisPass and you're in business. Plus it's not dodgy accommodation, it's a perfectly cromulent hotel.

They have other destinations, but this gives you an idea of a popular location in a mainstream hotel. I'm sure you'll have TONS of options for vegetarian fare in Paris and environs.

Go to the site, play around with destinations and dates. Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Believe it or not, you can get to India without blowing your budget. India is the ultimate veg-friendly country and an amazing tourist experience! Kayak is showing some ABQ->DEL flights at $1200 per person. If you go in late November or early December, you'll miss the monsoon -- and once you are in-country, travel, food, and lodging are super cheap.
posted by goingonit at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've started using a website that connects me with housesitting gigs. You do have to pay for membership, but I've already used it for a 10-day vacation. Just had to take care of someone's very nice cat, and all I had to pay for was airfare. They have a lot of listings of beautiful old houses in Europe.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

My neighbour was in Mumbai in October, loved the hell out of it. Prices are staggeringly low there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:47 AM on January 7, 2015

My husband and I just got back from a wedding in Mumbai that (with adjustments) could be within your budget. We were flying from NY (flights about $900 each), stayed for 6 nights at a 5-star hotel (about $200/night, breakfast included, but the couple covered 3 of these nights for us), and took Uber around everywhere (less than $5 per ride, even the 30-45min rides). We ate a lot of (100% vegetarian) meals at the wedding events or in the hotel, but the meals we ate out were delicious and affordable. We felt pretty safe the whole time (I would not go to Delhi right now, and our Indian-resident friends advised the same).

The only thing that would be a concern is whether the weather will be agreeable for the time you want to travel.

On preview: nthing Mumbai I guess!
posted by melissasaurus at 8:49 AM on January 7, 2015

I want to nth India. I actually flew from ABQ to Delhi about two years ago and the flight was about $1100. Getting around, sleeping and eating in India is all relatively cheap. (Also if you want to take any trains book early.)
posted by Flamingo at 8:50 AM on January 7, 2015

Guatemala! I spend about two weeks in Guatemala this past November (half the time in Antigua and the other half in San Marcos, Lake Atitlan) and loved it. I'm vegetarian and had zero problems finding plenty of vegetarian food. I should add that I traveled alone (female) and never felt unsafe. It cost me about $1200 including flight from NYC. Memail me for more info on my trip, if you're interested.
posted by Pineapplicious at 8:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Meant to add, we've also flown from ABQ to Belize fairly cheaply-- about $800 a ticket. It connects through Houston and the entire flight takes about 4 hours. Belize is amazing and also very inexpensive. Not sure about pure vegetarian meals, though. (As you'd imagine, they're pro-seafood there.)
posted by Flamingo at 8:57 AM on January 7, 2015

I think your budget and preferences could get you pretty much anywhere you want to go for two weeks, but nthing India.

I went for two weeks last March with my boyfriend for a wedding and spent less than $2k pp. Our flights were cheaper coz we're in New York, but we were also traveling with his parents (and staying at nicer places, getting drivers instead of walking, etc etc) for the second week I figure that probably balances out. It was something like $950 pp for the flights and ~$900 for everything else including a couple internal flights and a driver for several days.
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:57 AM on January 7, 2015

Any ideas for where to go if we drop the budget to $3,000?
posted by stoneweaver at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2015

My first thought was India as well-- probably everyone is jumping to that because you said vegetarian food, and India is a vegetarian paradise. I think you could probably even do India on around $3,000 if you were thrifty about it, though I'll cop to my experience being five years out of date. Airfare would eat up a lot of that budget (though you might look into flying separately to a bigger city), obviously, but even $400 each for two people for two weeks is not impossible in India. In my five-years-ago experience it's possible to find basic lodging for literally a few bucks (not common, exactly, but finding it for under $10 is common enough), especially if you'll be sharing one room (I assume), and a meal can be as cheap as a dollar, while a nice meal is likely to only be $5 or so.

Anyway, there are tons of places that you could do even a $3000 budget. Maybe a good place to start would be airfare. Have you looked at kayak explore, e.g. where travelers go to dream?
posted by geegollygosh at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Really depends on what you're looking for, but Costa Rica, specifically Manuel Antonio if you just want to relax on the beach and see some wildlife. If you're feeling more adventurous, 2 weeks in southern Nicaragua would cover Grenada, Ometepe, and San Juan Del Sur for well under your budget.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2015

Vegetarian food can be somewhat hard to come by in central america, but if you stay on the tourist track, many restaurants will have vegetarian options. Also, the fresh fruits and vegetables are to die for down there.
posted by empath at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2015

On $3000 airfare is for sure the limiting factor -- I would say you can eat and sleep anywhere, pretty much, for $1000 ex-airfare, but $500 is stretching it even in some pretty cheap countries. Like you could but you might prefer not to and go to somewhere with cheaper flights instead. Then again, from ABQ, it seems like cheaper flights limits your options to Mexico and central America, which aren't the most vegetarian-friendly places in the world.

If you follow sandmanwv's advice and get some points to cover one of the flights, that will save you at least another few hundred dollars and you become much less constrained.
posted by goingonit at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2015

For under $3,000 you could go most places in Mexico or Central America. Vegetarian food availability will vary by region but doable in most places.

For under $4000 you could have a great vacation in Thailand. Lots of vegetarian food as long as you pretend fish sauce is soy sauce (my vegetarian friend lived in Thailand for years operating under the rule that she would allow things that were less than 2% meat, which allowed her to eat things made with fish sauce).
posted by lunasol at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2015

Lots of deals on American for Airfare and Hotel for around $2500.

Liberia Costa Rica

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic(under $2,000)

Orbitz has a deal to Cartagena, Columbia, a friend of mine just came back and he had a ball!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2015

I found surprisingly reasonable flights to Thailand last time I looked. And when I last went to Thailand, the daily expenses were just dirt cheap. $20 hotel rooms, $5 meals, $45 for a two-day trek.
posted by smackfu at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2015

I've spent a total of over 3 years traveling around India, and am in India right now... Obviously I'm a fan, but I would advise against it for a short visit. It can be intense. Though there are serene beaches and idyllic mountain spots, the country can be busy, chaotic, and exhausting. It takes a while to settle in and get the hang of things. Additionally, your likely method of travel will be train, and getting tickets takes time (either lead time in person/online - 2-3 months, with a highly inflated intermediary at a tour place, or in a railway office which can eat away your precious vacation hours).

Your possibilities are endless and you have a big budget. If India it is, take some tours and book train tickets in advance (I can help you get advance tickets through a reputable agent). Though I think you're better off closer to your time zone - perhaps somewhere in South America? I love Colombia, Paraguay, and Bolivia, but Brazil is quite expensive. Buenos Aires would make a nice vacation spot.
posted by maya at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

India is a great idea! Seat 61 has an excellent tutorial on booking Indian train tickets online via Cleartrip, a booking site/app - I did this and had e-tickets on my phone the whole time and conductors were totally fine with it. Link here.
posted by mdonley at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2015

What about Central Europe? I did Prague-Krakow-Budapest for 18 days in September, and spent just over a grand and that includes price of hostels + transportation between those cities but does not include my round trip airfare to Europe. And mind you, that grand I spent included heavy drinking for 18 days straight. And there's good vegetarian food in that region as well.
posted by signondiego at 7:33 PM on January 7, 2015

I live in Honduras and would recommend Roatan. If you play around with the dates you could probably get flights in the $700 to $900 range. You could rent a house and cook your own food. They are familiar with the vegetarian diet, although you'll probably get served a lot of beans, cheese, avocados, rice dishes in the restaurants.

They also have all inclusive resorts, but I think those would end up costing you more.

It's an island in the Caribbean and would only be a good fit if you wanted a beach vacation. They do have an iguana farm, zip lining, parrot & monkey park, dolphin swimming, etc., but the beach is the main attraction. Most people are bilingual in English and Spanish, so if you don't speak Spanish, it won't be a problem.
posted by Lingasol at 4:08 PM on January 8, 2015

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