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Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 | 12 comments

Should you cross out expensive places from your travel list?


When I returned from Brazil earlier this year, I wrote a post about how expensive I found Rio de Janeiro (for some reason this is one of my most popular posts).  Even though I recognize I was a bit shocked by the prices, I still urged readers to visit Brazil. Why? Because I loved everything I saw. Because I had a great experience. Because I felt great joy.  Because this country is unique in its own particular way.  (Side note: I believe every country has something to offer).

The article provided some tips on how to save money on a visit to Rio de Janeiro because, according to me, “The cost of living of a particular country should not kill your dream of visiting”. Turns out one of the commenters didn’t agree with my statement because “There are plenty of places to visit with the option of not getting stunned at every corner by the prices”.

See, I understand the money issue.  We are all looking for bargains.  There are many websites dedicated to budget travel.  It is like saving money is the name of the game.  I like to save money too.  I try to visit destinations where my dollar stretches like a rubber band.

However, I don’t want the “expensive factor” determining what places I should visit or not.

Here are some of the reasons why I don’t feel like crossing out expensive places from my travel list (or bucket list or must see places list).

There are a lot of interesting but expensive cities out there

This year, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Moscow and Tokyo are considered among the 10 most expensive cities in the world.  To this list we can add cities such as New York, San Francisco, Sydney and most of Europe capitals.  So, are you telling me that in an eternal search for cheap places I will never be able to set foot in one of these cities?  Forget about ascents to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walks along the Golden Gate Bridge and rides in the Shinkansen. Excuse me but this is ridiculous.

I am not willing to sacrifice the uniqueness and vibe of some of the world’s top metropolises just because they come with a high price tag.  As a traveler, I aim to expand my view of the world by experiencing different places and cultures.  I want to have a wide view of the world not a narrow one.  Excluding the expensive continents does not get me closer to my goal.

Me in front of the Eifel Tower


Sometimes I will travel like a princess sometimes like a pauper

In my travels thru Central America and South East Asia, I have been able to live the high life.  Big lunches and dinners.  Massages every day.  Tons of adventure activities.  On the contrary my travels to places such as Brazil and Europe have been quite different.  I watched my spending, found ways to save on food and engaged in local activities.

Years of travel have taught me that in some places I will have high purchasing power.  In others, well, I will even loose part of my own currency.  Will I prefer one place over another based solely on that reason?  The answer is no.  I have learned how to absorb the soul of a place without buying and/or spending. There are tons of ways to have a fabulous time in certain places. And yes, this includes free or low cost ways.  Get away from the mentality that dictates how a good stack of dollars is equivalent to good times.

My sister and I with the London Eye in the background


There is a multitude of options and possibilities

I believe this is the key in here.  I know the places I want to visit. I also know it is relatively easy to visit the least expensive places.  However, I am always alert on the possibilities that open up to visit expensive locations.  I redeemed my frequent flyer miles to go to Brazil.  I went to Europe paying student prices.  I have already heard rumors that Japan will be giving free tickets to Tokyo next year (I am more than ready to act).  You have to keep your eyes open for these opportunities.  There are certain places that used to be expensive and are great bargains (relatively speaking) today (Iceland, Athens).  If you really want to go somewhere, the opportunity will come up at some moment.

Besides, we are living in an era where the Internet has helped travelers to shrink travel costs.  There is Couchsurfing, WWoofing, House Exchanges, House Sitting and Apartment Rentals.  There are websites featuring economical hostels offering free breakfast and Wi-Fi.  I can go and on about ways some people, in this precise moment, are using to make their travel dreams true.  I feel so good every time I read about a blogger or friend who has managed to live in London, Rome or Paris for a reasonable amount of money.  It just gives me more force to continue dreaming about those places I want to visit.


These are some of the reasons why I refuse to divide the world between cheap and expensive.  I am aware that there are some places I cannot visit now.  Nevertheless, I have hope in the opportunities the future holds for me.  Plus, I have confidence in my planning and saving abilities.  A little of creative thinking can go a long way.

At the end, you decide where you want to go.  You know your budget and what places appeal to you.  But tell me, do you have dreams or concrete plans of visiting those expensive cities? Why?

Would love to read your comments below!!!!


    • Debbie,
      I really want to visit Europe and like you said, the prices are quite high. I am trying to get creative on ways to save. Not sure if I will be able to make it next year but I will be on the look for opportunities.
      Ruth recently posted..Brazil’s Dusty Azure: Day 2 (Scene 2)My Profile

  1. Great timing on this, as I just wrote about how I lived in Buenos Aires on my pretty small travel budget. Although BA is the most expensive city I have been to in Latin America, it is my favorite. That is the perfect reason to not cross a place off the list because it’s expensive.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..How I Lived in Buenos Aires for $1000 a MonthMy Profile

    • That is a good way to think. Like I said, sometimes we will be able to spend more and sometimes there is no other choice but to mind what we spend.
      Ruth recently posted..Brazil’s Dusty Azure: Day 2 (Scene 2)My Profile

  2. Great post — as much as I love saving money, there’s just some places in this world I don’t want to miss, no matter how much I have to pay! And, I’ve been surprised actually … I tend to think that lesser developed countries will be cheaper, but I often end up paying more to visit there than I do anywhere in Europe or North America! It’s good not to rule a place out just because you think it’ll be too expensive.

  3. I have a backpackers hostel /guesthouse in Johannesburg, South Africa, with very reasonable rates, and offer cleanliness, comfort and security, and include a continental breakfast.

    I find that many guests have budgeted to the last cent, and become miserable, because they do not have money for extras. They would like to tour Johannesburg and Soweto, catch a taxi, go out for dinner, drinks etc.

    These prices are also very reasonable, – South Africa, like any other country, will incur extra expenses, and rather delay your trip, and save extra, to enjoy your holiday.

    Most people want to make an extra buck, and, are often, not open to negotiating. Those are their prices and they are sticking to them.

    So, visit us, but remember, the extra costs, which you may incur.


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