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Here’s How You Can Visit the Most Expensive Countries in the World On A Shoe String Budget

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2023 was a year of traveling to a lot of expensive destinations for us! But it certainly wasn't a year we had a very high budget. But rather than canceling our trips, and having the excuse that we couldn't afford it, we decided to travel for cheap instead.

Many people are under the false impression that it is extremely expensive to travel. But the truth is, that you can travel for cheap anywhere in the world! It just takes a will to sacrifice a bit of comfort, and you can visit all of the expensive countries across the globe.

Some of the expensive countries that we visited were Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Bermuda- all of which are not super budget-friendly! But with the tiny budget we had, we made it work! Here are 10 of the ways that we were able to visit expensive countries, but still travel for cheap.

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Why Visit the Most Expensive Countries in the World

There are a handful of very expensive countries around the world, but why would you visit them when you could travel to less expensive countries around the globe? Well, the most expensive countries in the world tend to have a few things in common.

They have great infrastructure, meaning you are able to easily navigate around. This adds a layer of comfort on its own, even if you decide to go with traveling a bit less comfortably budget-wise. A lot of the expensive countries have breathtaking nature, innovative architecture, and overall a ton to see and do.

They are typically also much safer than the "cheaper destinations", which adds a lot less risk- especially for people who aren't big travelers, are traveling solo, or are traveling with their family.

how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
how to travel for cheap to expensive countries

Many of the expensive countries have incredible landscapes to check out.

What are the Most Expensive Countries in the World?

There are a lot of expensive countries in the world, and they are scattered across the globe! Each continent or region has its fair share of pricier destinations, so first we're going to share a few of them with you.

The Most Expensive Countries in North America

Most people don't realize that one of the most expensive you can travel is right in the US! Prices for accommodation are extortionate compared to other areas of the world, and there are very little options when it comes to getting around affordably. In addition, taxis are added afterwards, and the high tipping culture adds up quickly.

Canada is very similar to the US when it comes to accommodation and food costs, and the activities are amongst the priciest we have ever heard of.

Greenland is becoming more popular, but due to its remote location, it certainly isn't cheap to get there, or to stay there, and the same goes for Alaska, or the islands of Hawaii.

NYC - travel for cheap to expensive places

The US is a very expensive place to travel.

The Most Expensive Countries in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is super interesting, because some places are ridiculously affordable, while others are outrageously overpriced.

The Virgin Islands (both US and British) are extremely pricy, as well as the Cayman Islands, & Turks & Caicos.

A rule of reference is that islands that have latin culture generally have more affordable options, while those that are owned but the British or the US tend to be much pricier.

Bermuda is technically not the Caribbean, but in the general area, and is certainly one of the most expensive destinations in the world, which is also owned by the British.

Catamaran, things to do in Bermuda on a cruise
Bermuda - travel for cheap to expensive places
Bermuda - travel for cheap to expensive places

The Most Expensive Countries in Central America

Central America is generally a pretty affordable area of the world for many travelers, but the one country hat has become increasingly more expensive is Costa Rica.

This is because American tourists have continued to fall in love with this country, pouring a lot of money into tourism. Unfortunately, rather than helping the country it has increased prices all around - even for locals!

Puerto Viejo, travel for cheap to expensive places

Costa Rica has become a very popular destination for Americans, and prices continue to rise.

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The Most Expensive Countries in South America

South America is known as being a more affordable area of the world, and is great for backpackers! But what a lot of people don't realize is that not everywhere is extremely cheap.

Chile is a particularly pricey destination, especially the further south you go! But the most expensive destinations that belong to South America are the islands like Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands, The Falkland Islands, and the Sandwich Islands.

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The Most Expensive Countries in Europe

Europe is definitely home to the majority of the most expensive countries in the world. Oddly enough though, there is a massive difference from country to country, and neighboring countries can even have a large gap of prices.

The most expensive countries in Europe are in Scandinavia, an area that includes the countries of Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The UK is also an expensive area, and includes England, Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland. These are typically more expensive for tourists due to the exchange rate, but luckily can be done on a higher variety of budgets.

Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Luxembourg are all tiny countries, and other ones where you can expect very high prices all around. Head over towards Eastern Europe, and you'll find much more affordable places, but Croatia is a destination that certainly keeps getting more expensive each year.

travel for cheap to expensive places
Iceland, travel for cheap to expensive places
hiking Pulpit Rock in Norway - travel for cheap to expensive places
Rovinj, travel for cheap to expensive places

Europe has some of the most expensive countries in the world.

The Most Expensive Countries in the Middle East

The Middle East is wild, because it has some of the most affordable countries in the world, but also some of the most expensive!

Countries like Saudi Araba, Qatar, and the UAE tend to attract luxury travelers, and can really end up being very expensive destinations. However, they also can be done on a tighter budget, as long as you know how to do so.

Although it's not really considered the Middle East by many, another very expensive island chain nearby is the Maldives, known for its luxury travel.

Dubai - travel for cheap to expensive places

The Most Expensive Countries in Africa

Africa is a continent that is often mistaken for being full of poverty and cheap travel. We can tell you firsthand, this is certainly not the case in many places.

Countries in the south of Africa (particularly South Africa and Botswana) or in the East of Africa (Kenya and Tanzania for example) are known for their safaris, and trips there can easily run up a high bill.

The good news though, is that if you can live a bit more like a local, or be a tad more self-sufficient, you can certainly explore these countries on lower budgets.

safari, bucket list

Safaris can be expensive, but there are still ways to travel for cheap in Africa.

The Most Expensive Countries in Asia

Digital Nomads and Expats flock to South East Asia for its incredible weather and affordable prices. But they tend not to stay a lot of time in the countries to the north, for budgeting purposes. This is a mistake though- as they are missing out on some really cool places!

Japan is notoriously expensive, as well as Singapore, Hong Kong, and parts of South Korea and China.

These countries have some of the most impressive structures and cuisines out there though, so it's all about finding a way to travel for cheap, so that you can experience them in a more affordable way!

Singapore - travel for cheap to expensive places

The Most Expensive Countries in the Pacific

The Pacific is an island paradise, and home to some of the cheapest and most expensive countries in the world. 

Australia and New Zealand are both the most well-developed, but certainly come with a bit of a higher price tag. Then there are the incredible honeymoon destinations like French Polynesia and Vanautu, or other remote islands like Micronesia, Naurau, & Tuvalu which all come with very high prices.

A lot of these places are not only expensive to get to, but also expensive once you are there, so finding ways to travel for cheap after arriving is key.

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The Most Expensive Destination Overall

The most remote destination in the world is certainly the most expensive! Antarctica is becoming more popular, but unfortunately can only be done as a tourist by a very pricey expedition ship.

Traveling there is the one place we don't have a "travel for cheap" method. However, you can join a program to work there, if you'd like to experience it without breaking the bank!

Ways to Travel for Cheap

Now that you know what are the most expensive countries in the world, let's help you to travel for cheap while you're there! Here are some of our top tips for traveling on a budget in pricier destinations.

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travel for cheap to expensive countries
travel for cheap to expensive countries
travel for cheap to expensive countries

Visit Smaller Towns

Typically, the bigger the city, or the more popular the destination, the pricier things tend to be. Rather than sticking to the top tourist spots, head a bit off-the-beaten-track! Smaller towns almost always have better prices, and they're also a great chance to dive a bit deeper into the culture, get unique recommendations, and overall have a better experience.

old town - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
small town in Bosnia
Jajce town, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Exploring smaller towns are a great way to travel for cheap.

Cut Down on Eating Out

Having three meals out a day is much more costly than you think - especially when visiting super expensive countries! For example, a plate of chicken in Scandinavia can run up to $30 in a restaurant. Meanwhile, you can get chicken from a super market for much cheaper.

If your hotel offers breakfast, take advantage! Eat as much as you can, and see if you can take some fruit or a sandwich to go. This will help you cut out a meal or maybe even two.


You don't need to have every single meal out, and I promise you, you don't NEED that second cup of coffee. It's not about starving yourself, it's about cutting down on the unnecessary extras.

best food in Dallas

Stock up on breakfast if it's included at your hotel.

Eat Local

Eating local can mean so many things! First, you'll want to skip that chain restaurant, and head to the local mom and pop bakery instead. People have this misconception that fast food is cheap food.

It makes you hungrier faster, as it's full of chemicals and preservatives, so it's almost like paying for an empty meal. Also, that mom and pop bakery will actually provide much more value than Starbucks.

Another thing to keep in mind is focusing on eating what is local to a region. Chicken and beef are expensive in Scandinavia because those animals aren't as easy to find. Anything imported will be more expensive, so if a fruit is local to the area, stick to that. Each country has certain food items that are more affordable, so find out what they are and stick to those!

Posh Pop, cool restaurants in New York

Going to local eateries is much better than getting fast food.

Snack Better

If you're traveling to expensive countries, you already know you'll be more able to travel for cheap if you simply eat less. But that doesn't mean we are telling you to starve yourself!

It's all about snacking better, and filling yourself up with things that are high in protein or fiber. Rather than buying some berries, opt for a banana. Rather than getting chips, get nuts, and rather than getting white bread, get whole wheat. Not only are these healthier choices, but they will keep you fuller for longer, and allow you to cut unnecessary food costs.

Stock Up Before

One of the ways we were able to also save a ton of money while visiting Iceland was by stocking up on protein bars. However, they're obviously not as cheap as they are in the US. It may sound crazy, but we bought 100 protein bars to take with us on our month trip, and these were such a lifesaver! We brought them on all of our hikes, and they were great for holding us over during our adventures.

road to Zabljak Montenegro

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Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Bottled water is not only super expensive, but it is horrible for the environment. Bringing your own reusable water bottle not only help you travel cheap, but it is also a great way to be a more eco-friendly traveler.

Expensive countries typically have very good water, and you can drink straight from the tap, meaning you'll save a ton of money and plastic!

water fountain - ways to travel for cheap in expensive countries

Make sure to fill up your water bottle at free fountains or from the tap rather than buying bottled water.

Get a Steripen

If you're heading to places like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, or Patagonia, then not only will you have great tap water, but you'll also be able to take advantage of other incredible water sources.

Fill up your water bottle with ice cold water from glaciers or waterfalls, and it'll not only be free, but the freshest and purest water you'll ever taste.

We actually invested in a Steripen, which is an extra step to clean water to make sure it is potable. While you probably don't need it everywhere, it definitely gave us a piece of mind, allowing us to safely drink water out in nature.

steripen, how to travel for cheap to expensive countries

Steripens are an extra step for purifying your water.

Get Out in Nature

Many expensive countries have incredible nature. So if you want to have incredible experiences but travel for cheap, then we highly recommend getting out in nature as much as possible!

Waterfalls, lakes, and hiking in general can be done for free, so you don't need to worry about spending a ton on other expensive activities.

Switzerland - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
Lofoten Islands - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
Lofoten Islands - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries
Ñivinco falls, route of the seven lakes in Patagonia

The best way to travel for cheap is to explore more out in nature.

Go Camping

Accommodation can rack up your travel costs quite a bit, especially if you are staying in countries that don't offer affordable hostels to stay at.

Invest in a foldable tent to bring with you, so that you can adventure more and spend less. Just remember to bring a warm blanket, as many of the expensive countries tend to have colder weather.

Socotra, 2024 bucket list for the best places to travel this year

Sleep in the Car

This may sound crazy, but car camping really is the way to go sometimes. Especially in places like Iceland, you'll find that this is a popular option amongst travelers. You'll want to get a big 4x4 and fold down the seats to sleep in the trunk, and have a mat underneath to sleep more comfortably.

People think that renting a car is expensive, but with transportation and accommodation being packed in one, it actually can save you a ton of money! 

We also recommend renting a car online well in advance, so that you can get the best price possible.

sleeping in the car - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries

Try Couchsurfing

If you want cheap accommodation but aren't a fan of camping or staying in your car, you can try couch surfing!

It's an app where you can stay with locals for free. It used to be a free app, but now just has a small fee. However, at the end of the day it will save you a ton, and allow you to make a new friend as well.

Work in Hostels

Another great way to get free accommodation is by exchanging a few hours of work for a place to stay. Many hostels will host travelers for those looking for longer stays in exchange for them to work at the hostel - win-win!

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Take Public Transportation

A lot of people land at an airport and automatically call an Uber. This is a classic mistake for those that want to travel for cheap! Public transportation is so much cheaper than getting private transportation. Talk to a local for the different options, and then you can assess if it will be cheaper to rely on public transportation, or to just rent a car.

buses in Central America - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries

Public transportation is much cheaper than taking Ubers or taxis.

Try Hitch Hiking

Transportation can get quite pricey, and if you don't feel like opting for a car, then you might need to rely on other transportation methods which can be quite costly in countries like Switzerland or Japan.

Hitch hiking is a great way to be able to travel long distances, and is pretty welcome in many countries (with the exception of the US).

Make sure to make a big sign, look friendly and presentable, and have minimal belongings with you so that you can have the biggest chances at success.

Hitch hiking - how to travel for cheap to expensive countries

Hitch Hiking is a fun way to get around for free.

So are you ready to explore all of the stunning expensive countries out there without breaking the bank? Now you'll be able to travel for cheap, with nothing holding you back!

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