I'd love to plan a budget-friendly international vacation. Which locations are most affordable when flying from LAX? Ideally, destinations that have great hostels in the city center, as well! Thanks. :)
You can never wrong with staying budget-friendly in Asia. I just did Thailand and the most expensive part was the flight. Once I was there everything was SO, SO, SO inexpensive - nice hotels included (PLENTY of great hostel options). Not sure if you're flexible with when you can go, but I see flight deals all the time. You just have to act on them when you see them. I have a friend who just booked a roundtrip ticket to Bangkok for $750. Patience is key :)
But like I said - so inexpensive once you're there. At most, this bowl of noodles could run you $1.50.
I love Central America. Costa Rica I like, but it's gotten pretty western and more expensive the last few years. I actually preferred Nicaragua over Costa Rica. There are some hostels in Granada (Nicaragua), which is beautiful, and convenient to Lake Nicaragua and the surrounding volcanos, like Volcan Mombacho, which you can actually zipline. I also loved Belize. You can stay on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize in the city center. Very walkable and then you could take the water taxis up and down the beach.
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Lots of flights to Asia from there. And there was just a special on QANTAS to Sydney ... $999 from LAX.
Oh, hey! Asiana Airlines has some crazy new specials. $682 to Hong Kong from LAX is the cheapest that I'm seeing. That's roundtrip on a weekday, taxes and fees included.
I guess your question has two parts, which is the cheapest airfare, then what is cheapest place once you get there. Depending on the length of your stay those two factors have different relative weights. The longer you stay in a cheaper destination the less an expensive airfare matters. It's fairly cheap to fly to Mexico, but if you are staying in the major tourist areas you are going to basically be paying US prices, and getting a Disneyfied experience unless you go off the beaten path (most paths are pretty beaten there these days). To search wider afield for the cheapest destination, go to www.skyscanner.com put in your starting city, then click "Everywhere" for destination (to do this put in any first letter in the input field, then scroll to the bottom of the drop down menu to get "Everywhere" choice. I did a search for the first two weeks of April and oddly enough Norway is near the cheapest to get to, but I wouldn't suggest it as a cheap destination as it is very expensive there (also a bit chilly this time of year). Of those in the top 5 cheapest at $589 I would go to Guatamala, very cool country, lots of hostel type infrastructure, low prices, and lots to do. Costa Rica is also in that price range for airefare, but more expensive once on the ground. If you have a bit more to spend on a flight, Vietnam is super cheap once you get there. Tix to Vietnam are about $1000. Also if you want a budget European destination, you can get a round trip to Budapest for $934. I am in Budapest now its awesome. Great food, low prices, amazing architecture and thermal baths...granted its Europe in the winter so don't expect too much sun time.
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Skyscanner is your friend. Just use LAX as your starting route and explore!
I did fly to Bogota, Colombia for $130 before with Spirit Air. Truelly one of the most amazing countries on earth. Dont let the Pablo Escobar stories scare you.