While I hope that someday, money will be less of a deciding factor in all aspects of my life, "budget-friendly" still tops my list of requirements when searching for a new travel destination. Considering that now's the time to plan trips for the year ahead, I've been heavily consulting Lonely Planet's brand-new list of the most budget-friendly (but totally worthwhile) travel destinations for 2018. Read up on the cities that took the top five spots below:
1. Tallinn, Estonia. The travel authority describes Estonia as being "compact, fashionable, and [of] terrific value." As one of Eastern Europe's "loveliest old towns," it's small enough to explore on foot for free, plus there are plenty of affordable dorms, guesthouses, and private homes." Lonely Planet recommends taking in the expansive views of the Baltic Sea from the roof of the Linnahall or heading to Kalamaja, a "fast-changing neighborhood home to Telliskivi Creative City," it explains. "The food trucks here offer Instagrammable fill-ups that won't tax your wallet."
2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. "Over the past decade, in-the-know independent travelers are increasingly heading to Lanzarote," writes the travel publication. "Awaiting them is a well-developed infrastructure that makes it a doddle to find affordable lodgings, food and car rental." Plus, the island is filled with unique travel experiences, including Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, the beaches of Órzola, and the black-sand wineries of La Geria.
3. Arizona, USA. Believe it or not, Arizona is a top destination for adventurous travelers, and it doesn't break the bank, especially if you aim for "simple roadside motels," and camping and hiking. "Visit Saguaro National Park on a day or overnight trip from Tucson," Lonely Planet suggests. "Over in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, you'll find fewer fellow visitors to compete with for views."
4. La Paz, Bolivia. Lonely Planet regards La Paz as "one of South America's best value places to linger," whether you want to learn Spanish, acclimate yourself to the culture, or just enjoy the colorful street life. "Budget-conscious travelers can get by on less than $30 a day, eating at unforgettable markets and taking hiking and biking trips."
5. Poland. "Poland somehow manages to remain affordable and relatively under-visited," writes Lonely Planet. "Sure, Kraków grabs the crowds, but you can explore here for less than in Prague or Berlin." The travel publication recommends heading North to explore Gdańsk’s rebuilt old town and hitting up Lublin, Toruń, and Tarnów for historical beauty "free from large numbers of visitors."
Head over to Lonely Planet for the full list of best-value destinations for 2018, and share the city topping your list in the comments.