Just because you are a student on a budget, that doesn’t mean your holidays have to be limited to long car trips in your local city. Some careful planning can help you find incredible international destinations, and many of them offer hostel accommodation, local food, and amazing attractions for less than what a night out in Sydney would cost. Even if you have to spend a little more on the flight to get there, the low cost of living and travelling around these locations will more than make up for it.


Even when planning for an affordable vacation, however, you should never skimp on health insurance. Cheap health insurance is readily available, and comparing various policies can get you the coverage you need. This means you won’t have to shell out the big bucks for expensive medical bills, in case you are injured while zip-lining through a rainforest in Costa Rica or surfing in Thailand. Here are some great international destinations for anyone travelling on a tight budget.


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

When students in Australia are searching for a truly affordable holiday destination, Cambodia is often at the top of the list, and for good reason. You can get great deals on flights from Sydney or Perth direct to the capital of Phnom Penh, which is the centre of tourism in the country. You can skip the hostels entirely and find private rooms for less than $10 per night, and a basic meal will cost just $1 at most local restaurants. Transport, including buses across the entire country, run for less than what a local bus ride would cost you at home, and the beers are cheaper than water. The most expensive part of a visit to Cambodia would be the entrance fee to Angkor Wat and the other temples in Siem Reap, but this once-in-a-lifetime attraction is well worth the cost.


Hamburg, Germany

Although many European destinations cost travellers a fortune, Hamburg remains one of the most affordable cities in Europe. The student population is large, and there are huge numbers of backpackers who pass through the city throughout the year. If you are willing to skip the luxury hotels and gourmet meals, you can actually get around Hamburg for less than €40 per night. Hostels are affordable and efficient, and it is not unusual to pay less than €14 per night, which also provides you with a locker, towels and sheets. Fill up on street food like falafel, doner kebabs and pretzels, all of which are cheap and tasty. The nightlife is some of the best in Europe, and a particularly popular haunt is the Strand Pauli Club. This outdoor bar is built along the Elbe River and is fantastically decorated to look like a Caribbean nightclub. Even better, the tropical cocktails there won’t cost you a fortune.


Lombok, Indonesia

For Australians, Bali is one of the most desirable holiday spots in Asia. The flights there are reasonably priced and just a few hours long, and the cost of luxury hotels and gourmet meals are much cheaper than back at home. However, as Bali turns into more of a tourism destination, prices will go up. To see what Bali was like fifty years ago, head to the nearby island of Lombok. Roughly twenty percent cheaper than Bali, Lombok still offers beautiful beaches, tropical weather and great nightlife.


Goa, India

Some travellers are discouraged from taking a holiday in India because they don’t want to spend their time in crowded cities, but Goa can be a fantastic alternative. Located along the Arabian Sea, this former Portuguese colony has been gaining in popularity among Europeans as a cheap party destination with stunning beaches. For $50 per day, you can afford a hostel within walking distance of the beach, three meals at local restaurants, transport on the bus system, and nightly drinks at a beachfront bar.


Penang, Malaysia

Often overlooked at a holiday destination, Penang is a great place to go if you want to live in luxury without a big price tag. Scuba-diving or surfing lessons are cheap, and many of the historical attractions offer free admission. Plus, you are in a great position to take local boats to other destinations, such as Langkawi and Phuket.


It is clear that for Australian travellers, Southeast Asian destinations are both affordable and exotic holiday destinations. However, travelling a little farther abroad to places like India or even Germany may be well worth the expense, when you take into consideration the surprisingly low cost of travelling and living in these countries.



  • Beach at sunset, Goa, India
  • Image courtesy of findsiddiqui/flickr.com

Jesse Michelsen

Jesse Michelsen