A Budget Case-study: One week in Bali for $300
Bali is as amazing as you might expect: Clear, warm water, good food, world class surfing and snorkeling.
A lot of people looking for tropical holiday coming from North America end up going to Hawaii or the Caribbean--certainly not bad options. One thing Bali has over Hawaii is that it's quite cheap to live once you're there.
I lived very comfortably on $45/day.
If you eat in non-touristy restaurants you could do it for even less. The local food is very, very cheap and super tasty; only $2-3 for a big plate. If you eat in the tourist places you'll spend a bit more, around $10/meal.
During Christmas a friend and I split a new little guest house on Lembongan Island for $12.50 each per night, which included a simple breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee. The hotel also had a small swimming pool and an outdoor dining area. Our room sported an outdoor shower, balcony, and a thatched roof complete with geckos.
It was nice and comfortable, but not exactly like staying at the Hyatt. Still for a budget traveler like me, it felt quite luxurious and the price was right. It was also a one minute walk to the beach. On an island. In Bali.
We also rented mopeds for about $7/day, gas included. (Highly recommend this)
So totalling everything up:
Food: $15 (free breakfast, $4 lunch, $11 dinner)
Pina colada: $4
Total $ 42
$42 * 7 days = $294
A full week in paradise, all in, for around $300! Try doing that in Hawaii.
Admittedly, it is a long way to go, at least coming from North America. But with some basic travel hacking, you can indeed get yourself a free ticket with a little bit of effort. And with that you’d be talking a week of sitting on the beach for, say $400 grand total, including some extra cash for a few taxis and incidentals.
That makes for a pretty darn enjoyable--and affordable--week in paradise.