You don’t need big bucks to find an amazing adventure. In fact, with a little ingenuity, you can experience some of the world’s greatest experiences on a shoestring. Here’s our picks for the best adventures you can have on a budget.
Walk El Camino De Santiago
Outdoorsy types looking for an adventure on a budget should look no further than the El Camino de Santiago. The 500-mile route which winds down from the French Pyrenees and stretches across to the city of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain has been used as a pilgrimage route since medieval times. If you’re time-rich but cash-poor, it’s the perfect adventure. Over 30 to 40 days, you can walk the epic trail across northern Spain immersing yourself in the spectacular scenery along the way. Pilgrim hostels cost around 10-12 bucks a night and you can pick up a hearty evening meal for under $10 in one of the local eateries. A month-long walk without flights should cost you around US $1500 without flights.
Ride Through Asia on a Motorbike
If you’ve got your license, there’s nothing better than riding across Asia on a motorbike. There are plenty of routes to choose from. Hire an old Royal Enfield for under $20 a day and ride up the winding Himalayan mountain roads in India, pick up an old Honda and drive up into the hilly Sapa region of Vietnam or ride up through the paddy fields and quaint villages on the 400-mile Mae Hong Son Loop. The cost of fuel is relatively cheap, you could nab a stay with locals along the way and the cost of food at roadside stops is usually under a buck. Just be sure to have some comprehensive travel insurance before you attempt a motorbike trip in Asia.
Catch a Cargo Ship Around the World
It might not have the facilities of a cruise ship and you can’t expect to have a luxurious cabin, but if you’re looking for adventure on the cheap, a cruise on board a cargo ship might be just the ticket. Like Airbnb for the cruise world, you can nab a spot on a cargo ship route in destinations all around the world. Most stop in 10 to 15 places for several days allowing you to explore at your own pace. Take the Around-the-World cruise via the Suez and Panama Canal. Over 83 days you’ll visit several places in the US before cruising out to the Far East with stops in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shekou, Shanghai and Korea and then back to Houston. At less than 100 bucks a day including you cabin and food, it’s steal. You can even make is cheaper by working on board for a discount.
Travel Around India by Train
Adventure seekers could look to India for cheap adventures. The old trains that rumble around every corner of the country are one of the most fascinating and cheap things to do. There are myriad routes to take from the steamy paddy fields and hill stations in the South to the toy trains that zig zag up the mountain-side in the Himalayas. Before you start planning, read Monisha Rajesh’s Around India in 80 Trains which tells the story of her 40,000-kilometer journey across the sub-continent. Most of the trains are frequent and at less than $20 for an overnight journey in Sleeper Class, they won’t be wallet-busting either. You could even splurge and score yourself the occasional ticket in first class.
Paddle Down the Danube
Adventures on water don’t have the break the bank either. The Danube, Europe’s second longest river, meanders down from Bavaria winding through Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria until it reaches its estuary in the Black Sea. For most of the journey, you can paddle between countries without border formalities on a Shengan Visa. You’ll need some serious vacation time to complete the full length which takes at least 65 days, through there are shorter sections if you have just a week or two. Hiring a canoe for two costs under $10 per person and if you bring a tent, you can simply camp along its banks. There is some excellent information on paddling along the Danube River on James Warner Smith’s website.