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If you’re a frugal traveler, the most expensive thing about traveling to Bali is … getting to Bali. No matter your gateway from the U.S., a flight to this tropical island in Indonesia will typically cost you more than $1,000.

But that’s where the big spending ends. The cost of things once you’re physically in Bali, assuming you aren’t traveling like a goddess with demanding diva-like tendencies, are considerably cheaper than what you’d find in, say, New York City.

In fact, a stay in Bali could very well be cheaper than one in New York City. Don’t believe me? Here’s a breakdown of what I paid during a recent stay in Bali, versus what it would normally cost me in the Big Apple. It just might inspire you to click “Purchase” on a flight to Denpasar, Bali.



Bali: I paid $40 per night for a massive private room with en-suite bathroom in a gorgeous, centrally located villa in Ubud, Bali. It’s easy to score three- and four-star hotel accommodations here for less than $100 per night.

NYC: Good luck finding anything in the Big Apple for less than $100 per night. Three- and four-star hotels regularly fetch $250 or more.

Taxi ride to/from the airport

Bali: My first hotel arranged a taxi pickup after midnight for me for $16 (IDR 215,000) to my hotel in Kuta. (Although I’m sure I could have gotten a cheaper rate had I negotiated with a taxi driver on the spot at the airport – just didn’t want to deal with that after 30 hours of travel.)

NYC: It regularly costs $45-$50 to get to a Manhattan hotel from any of the New York airports.


Vehicle rental

Bali: Motorbikes are the way to get around in Bali because the roads are so narrow and congested in the bigger towns. You can rent them for $2 to $4 per day – the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

NYC: Renting a car in the Big Apple – kind of crazy, in my opinion – will set you back at least $55 per day.

Private driver

Bali: I paid $50 (IDR 650,000) for a private driver to spend a day driving me to temples across Bali, which included a few hours of driving in between destinations.

NYC: It would cost more than $300 to do something comparable for the day in New York City, whether through a private service or a shared-ride service.


Biking tour

Bali: A full-day biking group tour, including breakfast and lunch, which took us through villages and rice fields, cost $40.

NYC: A guided group bike tour in NYC costs anywhere from $55 to $100.


Top attractions

Bali: Admission to most temples across Bali cost anywhere from $1.50 (20,000 IDR) to $2.30 (30,000 IDR).

NYC: Tickets to attractions such as the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock cost $32 and $26, respectively. Popular museums admissions run $25.


Yoga class

Bali: I paid $68 (900,000 IDR) for a 10-class pack at the world-famous Yoga Barn, which broke down to $7 per class.

NYC: Classes are regularly $20 to $30 in NYC.


Bali: Cultural performances at local temples, which involve dancing and fire-blowing, cost anywhere from $3.80 (50,000 IDR) to $6 (80,000 IDR) per person.

NYC: Popular Broadwayshows regularly fetch $100 or more per ticket, unless you go to the TKTS Booth and score a same day discount ticket at up to 50 percent off.)


Private surf lesson

Bali: I paid $26 (IDR 350,000) for a private, two-hour surfing lesson in Kuta, Bali.

NYC: The same private lesson would cost $175. (And yes, you can take surfing lessons in Rockaway Beach, just outside of NYC.)


Bali: I got an entire personal pizza for $3.40 (45,000 IDR) at Mamma Mia in Ubud, Bali.

NYC: While you could get a slice of pizza for that much in New York, an entire pizza will run you anywhere from $10 to $25.


Cup of coffee

Bali: Bali serves up some of the best, freshest coffee anywhere in the world. I regularly paid $1.50 (20,000 IDR), sometimes less. (The island does have a few Starbucks cafes, but I avoided those.)

NYC: A cup of coffee at Starbucks will cost about $2.

Bottled water

Bali: It’s typically $0.75 (10,000 IDR).

NYC: In the Big Apple, the same runs $2-$4, depending on where it’s purchased.


Sushi dinner

Bali: I paid $14 for a rainbow roll, chicken katsu, edamame and two sodas at an ocean-view Japanese restaurant called Sushi Tei Beachwalk in Kuta, Bali.

NYC: That entire meal would cost me more than $50 at my favorite sushi restaurant in New York, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill. (The rainbow roll alone costs about $14.)


Bali: It’s often free, if you can squeeze into a spot on the crowded streets.

NYC: Ranges $20-$30 per day in a parking garage.



Bali: I found amazing designer shops, such as Marta Valbuena and Pygmees, that sell one-of-a-kind dresses for $35 to $50.

NYC: Similar dresses in New York City boutiques would easily fetch $200 or more. (Which is why I stocked up in Bali!)


Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, International, Tips & advice

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Looking for a way to have a (relatively) cheap European holiday? Think about skipping France and Italy this time around. Skip most of Western Europe, actually. Point your toes directly towards Eastern Europe, and visit Montenegro, to be exact. This small, Balkan country—which is sandwiched between Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina—is everything you want in a scenic vacation. Dramatic coastlines, charming villages, historic architecture—all the elements of a quaint European getaway are there, except for one thing: Montenegro is way cheaper than more traditional European destinations. Let’s go!

Explore Kotor

When you visit Montenegro, you must stop in Kotor, the gorgeous city by the sea...specifically, the Adriatic.

Photo: Bay of Kotor | amira_a, Flickr CC

Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage town, is so beautiful you’ll be shocked you’ve never heard of itas a tourist destination. Set on the Adriatic Bay of Kotor, this stunning little city of 13,500 features classic Venetian fortifications and architecture, as well as winding medieval streets. There are multiple hostels that charge between 30-38€ per night (a steal in Europe!) and include extras such as free wi-fi and bikes available for rental. Spend a day sunning on the sand at the free, public Kotor Beach, where the turquoise water and mountain views will make you consider staying indefinitely. Later, explore the Old Town, where you can dine well for under 15€ a plate—or go for one of the crepe stands, where a savory crepe with ham and cheese can be had for under 5€.

Go church-hopping in Perast

When you visit Montenegro, don't miss the medieval-looking St. Nicholas Church in Perast!

Photo: Perast – St. Nicholas Church | Marjan Lazarevski (Montenegro), Flickr CC

Perast, a tiny town that’s a 20-min bus ride from Kotor (1.5€ each way) has only one main street. Despite this, you’ll find 16 churches to explore, as well as Venetian-style grand palazzos (some crumbling, some fully restored) to goggle at. St Nicholas’ Church is a great starting point, with its pointed bell tower soaring over the town. Get your camera ready, too—Perast is a water town featuring some unique views; everywhere you look, palm trees stand with white-capped mountains in the background, and there are two small islands in the bay just begging to be featured on your Instagram. Have dinner at the 12th-century Konoba Otok Bronza restaurant, where a mountain spring spouts from the cave-like interior, and where you can fork up fresh local seafood for less than 12€ a plate.

Spend like it’s 1959 in Podgorica

Visit Montenegro for the cheap food and beaches; stay for the gorgeous Podgorica Cathedral, pictured here.

Photo: Podgorica Cathedral | Tony Bowden, Flickr CC

Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital city of about 185,000 people, is often overlooked as a destination for travelers planning to visit Montenegro. It’s not on the coast, and the city is (gasp!) relatively untouristed. But trust us: you can live well in Podgorica for very little money. There are lots of hostels where you can pay under 27€ a night (check out Hostel Izvor, which features clean, bright rooms, an onsite nightclub and free valet parking). Plus, there are endless cafes on pedestrian-friendly streets, where you can sit and watch the locals go by. The prices? Try 1€ for coffee, pizza for 2.5€, and lots and lots of street food. Walk along the Slobode, a popular street that closes to cars at night, or cool off during the day at the (free) rocky beaches that line the Moraca River. Podgorica is it for living like an actual European in a town that hasn’t been slammed by tourism just yet—give it a try and your wallet will thank you!


Tagged: City, International

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Bora Bora: Just the name conjures images images of perfect beaches, unbelievably clear waters, and a vacation budget that rivals some small countries’ national budgets. Fortunately, there’s more than one place in the world that looks like a postcard.

To celebrate National Lookalikes Day, we’re offering up some dupe dream vacations—that is, affordable lookalikes of some of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, but for a fraction of the cost. So here’s how to experience the French countryside, Tuscany, and yes, Bora Bora without going broke.

The fine print:All prices were pulled using random mid-week dates in May, and onsite prices are subject to change.

St Barths

Love St. Barths? Save some dough in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Ah, St. Barths—tropical playground of the rich and famous, known for its isolated beaches, turquoise bays and laid-back attitude. You know where else has literally all of thesethings, without the sky-high prices? Puerto Rico. The island of Vieques, specifically. Not only does it also offer some incredible beaches and warm, swimmer-friendly waters, but most of the island is a fish and wildlife refuge, meaning its natural beauty is here to stay. Oh, and it’s also home to Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico’s brightest bioluminescent bay. So book a kayaking tour before you hit the road to paradise.


Where to stay: Villa Coral; $89 a night

Located in picturesque Esperanza, this tiny hotel is very near Black Sand Beach, Sun Bay and that famous bioluminescent bay we mentioned. The air-conditioned rooms offer a touch of island flair, and at roughly $90 a night are quite the steal. Did we mention the rooftop terrace?   


Want to see Tuscany’s rolling hills? Head to Sonoma Valley,California

This is the place most people think about when they imagine rustic, farm-to-table living. Tuscany’s picture-perfect rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards are the stuff of storybooks. But you don’t have to leave the continental U.S. to get all that—simply head to California’s Sonoma County. This place is practically best described as bucolic (or ‘Tuscan’, if you’re feeling literal), thanks to its countless wineries, mountainous borders and altogether pleasant weather. And best of all, it’s less pretentious (and cheaper) than Napa, its wino neighbor to the north.


Where to stay: Best Western Dry Creek Inn; $129 a night

This is not your average Best Western. With European-style fixtures and a harvest-inspired color palette, it’s more like a boutique hotel. Combine that with a beautiful pool, outdoor fireplaces and ornamental terraces, and you’ve got a Tuscan getaway in your own backyard.


French Alps on your mind? Head north to Cote de Beaupre, Quebec

The most authentically French places this side of the Atlantic are clustered in and around Quebec. Cote de Beaupre is perhaps the best of the best, boasting a history that dates back to New France’s earliest settlers (hence the authenticity). When you’re not busy skiing Mont Sainte Anne, check out the gorgeous Montmorency Falls and nearby nature reserves, or simply bumble around this area’s small cluster of towns, where you’ll find a stunning basilica, locally made goods and eateries. Along with heaps and heaps of Provençal French charm.


Where to stay: Chateau Mont Sainte Anne

Okay, so this ski-in/ski-out resort doesn’t have a traditional French feel, but it’s about as close to the action as you can get. And with spacious rooms, hot tubs, an onsite restaurant and [some kind of playground], it really doesn’t get better. If you were desperately hankering for that super French feel, grab a room at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec ($187 a night).


A fan of Kauai? Check out St. Lucia’s wild landscapes

It doesn’t get much more tropical, expensive or blatantly, painfully beautiful than Kauai. It looks like the land time forgot, thanks to its primeval cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and beaches. In fact, the island itself has practically redefined ‘emerald’ due to its verdant mountains. So why swap all that for St. Lucia? Well, because it has a lot in common with its Hawaiian counterpart: massive green mountains, deep valleys, beautiful beaches and its very own dormant volcano. And the snorkeling and scuba diving are nothing to sneeze at either. And not only are there some dirt-cheap hotels here, but you can save hundreds on airfare alone.

st lucia

Where to stay: blu St. Lucia; $105 a night

Live large, island-style, in this pretty little boutique hotel. After your free breakfast, pamper yourself with a massage and facial before hitting the outdoor pool or grabbing dinner at one of two onsite restaurants. And you can walk to Reduit Beach, theBaywalk Shopping Mall and Splash Island Water Park. 


Is French wine country calling you? Okanagan Valley, BC is your answer

Want to know where you can get a taste of Burgundy’s rolling vineyards, outdoor activities and awesome small-town feel? Look no further than British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. This lush region offers up terraced hills, pretty lakes and, or course, miles of wineries and vineyards. And the hoards of fruit orchards give thisbeautiful valley an extra European kick, whether you’re staying in Kelowna or the surrounding countryside.


Where to stay: E’Laysa Guesthouse and Vineyard Retreat; $149 a night

Every detail of this gorgeous, intimate hotel screams wine country. When you’re not lounging in one of six sophisticated rooms or noshing on free breakfast, head out to the terrace to enjoy the view of La Frenz Estate Winery. You can alsocatch some great views of the lake that leads up to Kelowna.

Bora Bora

Dreaming of Bora Bora? Re: Palawan and Malaysia

This one’s a bit of a twofer—yes, Bora Bora is an excruciatingly beautiful destination all on its own, but it wouldn’t be quite as spectacular without its iconic overwater bungalows, right? So we’re comparing destinations and bungalows for the purpose of this entry, and we’ve got two—yes, two—cheaper options for this one.

Bora Bora requires no introduction, but Palawan, Philippines probably does. Often touted as the most beautiful island in the world, its plush hills, spotless beaches and so-clear-you-can-see-the-bottom water absolutely rival those of Bora Bora. Malaysia’s Sungai Pelek is not quite as idyllic—it’s a pretty high bar to hit, after all—and yet the hotel (and the price) make it totally worth it. More on that below.


Where to stay: Apulit Island Resort; $460 a night

If you’re thinking this is quite the splurge, you’re right. But compared to the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, which averages at $1500 a night, it’s really a steal. And considering the air-conditioned bungalows, private beach, full-service spa, private balconies, beach bar and that view, $460 a night almost starts to feel worth it.


Where to stay for even less: Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort; $115 a night

But don’t worry, savvy shoppers, we’ve got something much, much cheaper for you. Ringing in at a whopping $115 a night, you get a stunning overwater ‘bungalow’ with some luxe features at Malaysia’s Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort—as well as access to six restaurants, a spa, yoga, windsurfing, an infinity pool and a beach.

Keep in mind that with just under 400 rooms, this resort is prettymassive. So if something slower and smaller is more your pace, check out Belize’s oh-so-tropical Thatch Caye (starting at $250 a month.)

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Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Cheap Tips, Family, Hawaii, International, Romance & honeymoon, Seasonal, Tips & advice, Uncategorized

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A year ago I moved from Ohio to Florida, a grueling 15 hour drive I luckily only had to make once. Since then, I’ve probably spent at least one weekend a month visiting my parents at home or friends out of state,  enough to know what my favorite thing on the menu is at all the terminal restaurants and where all the good outlets are at Tampa International.  In the last year I’ve learned is that traveling isn’t always fun, but I’ll never take it for granted.


1. Flying is freedom – When I graduated from college I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone and I’d only visited once, but I always knew home was only a flight away. Knowing that made the move a little less scary, and being able to visit friends and explore the cool cities where they live is so much fun. Flying is both the freedom to go home and anywhere else.

2. Flying is basically time travel – Have you ever been on one of those flights that leaves in one time zone and then, like magic, lands at almost the exact same time in another time zone. The feeling of getting of a plane and having not lost any time is the air is amazing. There is just something about it that makes you feel like you’ve beaten the system.

3. It makes the world smaller –  50 years ago if you wanted to talk to a friend who lived out of town, you wrote them a letter and put it in the mail because long distance phone calls were expensive and visiting was practically out of the question. Since then, the world has shrunk with access to air travel that would have been totally out of the questions for our parents and grandparents. Flying just isn’t the major event it used to be, it’s part of the normal human experience, and that is incredible.

4. Deals deals deals – Every time I check my email I have a notification about a fare sale. Nothing beats a deal, and when it comes to booking flights, I try to save as much as I can where I can. Flying is expensive, but off-peak deals and flash sales make it easier to find something in my price range and maybe goon a trip I otherwise wouldn’t have. Try the Flights under $200 section on (Click the link and scroll down.)

5. You can make new friends – Talking to people seated next to you on the plane is not for everyone, it’s not even always for me. But occasionally you meet someone who lives in your area or is visiting the same place you are and, BAM, you already have something in common. With flying you get to meet people that otherwise you never would have, and even if that person is only someone you vent with about a flight delay or chit chat about travel plans, there is something to be said about being exposed to different people.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Family, Flights, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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1. Combine multiple modes of transportation.
If time permits, try flying into smaller cities or smaller airports and then taking a bus from there to your final destination. Chances are, the total cost will be less than a direct flight into your destination, especially if it’s a popular city and during high tourist season. Not to mention, you might discover a beautiful hidden village or city on the way there!

RELATED: Alternate airports: Gateways to cheap summer fares


Photo courtesy of Gloria Atanmo ©

2. Don’t pay for tours.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing tours and companies out there with information you’d only learn by talking to a local or someone who’s lived there all of their life; but unless your Google is down and you can’t find the basic fun facts on your own, skip out on the tours and go get lost in the city and explore it for yourself. Meet a local, grab drinks, ask them what they love about their city, and let them take you on a walk through their favorite district. The average local would be honored to show off their city, and you know that their genuine excitement comes from their pride for their home and not a paycheck at the end of the day.

3. Try Couchsurfing.
Couchsurfing is a network of travelers and hosts who share a passion for travel and want to experience a city in a unique way. Locals open up their homes to travelers and travelers open up their hearts to locals. You share stories, you share drinks, and the good karma multiplies. It’s a free service that pays in good karma, because should a former host choose to visit your city, you’d offer that same hospitality to them that they offered to you. People who travel want to see as much as they can and save as much as possible, so this free network allows travelers and locals toconnect in the purest way possible.

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Photo courtesy of Gloria Atanmo ©

4. Avoid restaurants near tourist attractions or on big streets.
Why is it that a restaurant right next to an historic cathedral can get away with charging 50% more on a standard dish? Easy. When tourists just finish wandering a church for a couple hours, they’re probably starving after, and will walk into the first bar or restaurant they see nearby, out of convenience. These places know that, and purposely hike up their prices. Walk just a couple blocks inward and find hole-in-the-wall eateries for half the price.


Photo courtesy of Gloria Atanmo ©

5. Travel during the middle of the week.
It’s convenient, and therefore common, for people to getaway on weekends, but if you can somehow tweak your work schedule to travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday (the cheapest travel days of the week), do it! Not only will tourist attractions be so much less crowded, but you can enjoy a transportation rate of up to 30% cheaper on most airlines and trains.

6. Search for free attractions on certain days and times.
Most attractions have at least one day of the week where they offer discounted or free entrance to the public. In Barcelona, for instance, the iconic Park Güell is free to the public before 8 a.m. and after 9:30 p.m. Not only is it free, but it’s less crowded and you’re able to capture those perfect selfies that you came there for in the first place.

7. Have a daily budget and stick to it.
It’s easy to accidentally spend a few dollars here and a few dollars there if you’re not keeping track of what’s going out of your wallet. Set a strict daily budget, and jot a quick note in your phone of every time you make a purchase. By the end of the day, you’re able to calculate how well you’ve done,how much you have left, and make a budget-conscious decision on what your nighttime activity will be. There’s nothing scarier than coming back from a vacation and looking at your bank account for the first time since you left. That type of travel is for the rookies (looking at my 2012 study abroad self) and part of smart traveling is maintaining financial responsibility.


Photo courtesy of Gloria Atanmo ©

8. Eat your biggest meal in the afternoon.

I never knew that coffee had the power totransform itself into a meal right in front of my eyes. It’s amazing. That, and the fact that because of time zone changes, I wouldn’t feel my appetite kick in until around the afternoon anyway. So saving my largest meal of the day towards the middle of the day kind of covers 2 meals. It serves as a late breakfast, a lunch, and perhaps a snack before dinner.

9. Pre-game before going to the bars or clubs.
Sorry, Mom. Skip over this one. So it’s obvious that bars and nightclubs cash in big by overcharging their drinks and under-pouring their alcohol. Criminal, I know. If you were ever a college student you probably know how to beat the system by pre-gaming before the bars with a bottle of (insert drink of choice here) and some friends. Show up to the bar with a good little buzz, and buy maybe one drink all night. You still want to look and be social with everyone else, but try and make that drink stretch. Especially if you’ve already reached your premiumbuzz level!

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Photo courtesy of Gloria Atanmo ©

 10. Be flexible!

One thing I try to preach is that traveling is only expensive when it’s as convenient as possible. If you try to squeeze a perfect itinerary down to the very second of how and when you’d like to arrive, then you’re going to pay an extra price. Want a non-stop flight? More expensive. Want an all-inclusive cruise? More expensive. Have a specific time you MUST arrive to your destination on a Friday night or Saturday morning? EXPENSIVE! Being flexible is one of the best qualities you can possess as a traveler or tourist and you’ll come to learn that flexible people also make the best travel companions because they’re easy-going and hardly ever stressed. It’s a vacation for crying out loud! Relax, enjoy yourself, and go with the flow! 😉

Check out more of Gloria Atanmo’s travel tips on her blog: The Blog Abroad

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Tagged: Tips & advice, Uncategorized

Gloria Atanmo
Gloria Atanmo is an adventure-junkie currently on a 2-year jaunt through Europe after booking a one-way ticket. She enjoys discovering the unequivocal education of travel, risks, and hustle. Follow her journey on Instagram (@glographics) or her blog (
Gloria Atanmo

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