5 Budget Alternatives For Premium Travel Destinations

There is a lot of good stuff to be said about travel. You get to see the world, get to experience new things, meet new people and broaden your horizons. And maybe best of all, if you are like us and working a regular 9 to 5, you get to be away from the constant stress and pressure of your day job.

Yet the unfortunate and somewhat harsh truth is that travel is expensive, which creates an automatic link between how much you earn and how much you get to travel. Of course there are many travel hacks and these can ease the burden a bit, but no one is going to hand you a budget trip to the Maldives... but not to worry, Travelindicator is in our opinion the most useful tool out there right now to find budget alternatives to luxury travel destinations.

Premium travel destinations and their budget alternatives

So that all sounds great, but how do we do that in practice? Not too difficult. Let's say you were to head over to our price rankings of travel destinations and have a look at some of the more expensive ones for each continent. Depending on when you head over to that page and take a look yourself you are going to find different names there, but at the moment we for instance see that Zürich in Switzerland and Yokohama in Japan are pricing themselves out of the market.

So what's next? Well, we head over to the pages of both of those cities and scroll down the page to head to locations similar to Zurich and similar to Yokohama. This gives you an overview of the 25 places most similar to each city according to the Travelindicator.com algorithm. But more interesting perhaps is that under each suggested similar destination, you see an icon. Depending on whether it shows a plus or a minus, that tells you whether at the moment a certain place is cheaper or more expensive.

Note that alternatively, you could zoom in on places nearby a certain destination (for instance here for the Maldives) and you could filter away destinations much further from it. This then gives you a view of destinations close by that may be cheaper or more expensive - here too we show you the icon.

The destinations

Zürich

Zurich

Look. We really do love ourselves some Zurich. Pretty neighbourhoods, historical sites, mountains in the background. But we also know this place is painfully expensive. Our algorithm suggests as cheaper alternatives places like Gwangju (South Korea)Utrecht (the Netherlands)Lindau (Germany) and Cahors (France). Maybe give those a try? More can be found here.

Maldives

Maldives

Granted, this one may already be trickier as the Maldives are such a fantastically beautiful place. But not to worry as our amazing algo has got you covered. There are Aitutaki (Cook Islands)Koh Lipe (Thailand)Moorea (French Polynesia) and Rawa Island. Find a few more suggestions in our list here.

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba, there are worse places in the world. But there are certainly a lot better places for your wallet! Check out the similar destinations to Aruba for yourself, but may we just go ahead and suggest the likes of Formentera (Spain)Kos (Greece)Antigua and probably most relevant of all: St. Maarten? The latter currently goes for about 15% cheaper than its Dutch brother island.

Antigua

Antigua

Our article on this island is titled "Nothing but the beach" which is pretty telling, really. But let's not fool ourselves, it is also a sh*t expensive (apologies) place to travel to! But funnily enough, lots of places have beaches, and a lot of them apparently cheaper than Antigua. You must check those similar yet cheaper destinations for yourself, but may we suggest Carriacou (Grenada)Koh Tao (Thailand)Okinawa (Japan) or Zakynthos (Greece)?

Kyoto

Kyoto 

OK, so realistically Kyoto is pretty cool and unbeatable. Temples, shrines, tea houses, parks, it is all in all a pretty fantastic place and probably our favorite city to be in in Japan. But a popular place is never a cheap place. That's why we are going to suggest you a bunch of similar and often cheaper places. First of all there is the equally stunning Nara (Japan) which goes at a 20% discount. Elsewhere in the region there are Ubud (Indonesia) which can be expensive but on average should be about 70% cheaper. The same goes for Chiang Mai (Thailand) and to throw you a bit of a curve ball our algorithm suggests heading over to Europe instead and checking out the lovely Guimaraes (Portugal)

New Feature - Destination Price Rankings

Hi all,

Just checking in to let you know that we have added a small new feature to the site that we thought might be of use to some of you: price rankings for all destinations per continent. This feature allows you to quickly get a rough idea of a visit to which locations comes at a premium, and which are relatively cheaper than others to visit.

Of course there were ways to get this information out of Travel Indicator before we added this functionality, but we still thought it would be handy to have an overview - that is live updated on daily basis - in one place.

We are not done with adding new features yet. What about the ability to check out a travel destination and get suggestions for similar destinations (nearby) that are cheaper? We are working on that. Till later!

Improvements To Estimated Flight And Total Cost

Hi all, we were aware of the fact that until now the estimated cost of flight prices was not all that accurate. It is and remains an estimate, so some deviation from actual prices is to be expected, after all the pricing models of carriers are intransparant and it is hard to predict whether a budget airline will fly on a certain route. Just to name some issues.

Having said that, we do want the figures we show to be useful. If for instance we quote an expected ticket price of $500 and it ends up being $550, we would be content with that. What matters is that it wasn't $800, if you get our point. Fortunately we get plenty of data in that allows us to make a better estimate of these prices. We have run a regression analysis on these and added our findings into the website. When comparing it with actual quotes of airlines and the estimate of Rome2rio we have come nearer to what it should be.

Note that this does not just affect the ticket prices (which are now quoted at the bottom of each search result), it also affects the budget categories (such as this one) where we actually combine the live calculated average hotel prices of locations with an estimated return fare, giving you a complete picture of how much a weekend stay in that place would cost you right now.

Trip Duration And City-to-city Travel Cost

Two new features and better presentation of some existing ones have been added to Travelindicator.

The first new feature is travel cost. We have established a link with Rome2Rio to give you an indicative city-to-city (or practically door to door, if you wish) price next to each location. On the left side you see an example of how this looks for one location (Amsterdam). The left indicator shows the average hotel rate for 2 weeks from now, while the left shows you the return fare to and from your base location (Glasgow, Scotland in this case). Clicking the link gives you a breakdown of the €220 fare, which in this case consists of €14 for trains in Scotland, €200 for a return flight Glasgow-Amsterdam, and €6 for trains in Amsterdam.

Under the return fare indicator we show you some extra info; the fare for a single trip as well a the indicative fare for a return trip and stay of 2 nights based on average hotel rates. Note that flight fare information is not necessarily live but is indicative based on Rome2Rio's algorithms as described here.

In a similar vein, we now show you the duration of travelling from A to B, again calculated by Rome2Rio. The 4.3 hours breaks down to 23 minutes by train in Scotland, 16 minutes in Amsterdam, 1:30 hours by plane and the remainder (roughly 2.5 hours) taken up on both airports.

Pretty useful stuff, we thought. To make the location dashboard complete, we have improved the presentation of whether a location's hotels are currently (i.e. for bookings 2 weeks from now) discounted or at a premium, and what the expected weather (maximum temperature ranges) is like.

Happy indicating!

Weather Forecast, Altitude And % Price Changes

I have been busy in the past weeks - in preparation for taking a while off as I am about to become a father! - and have added 3 new features to Travelindicator that I believe will be very useful to our users going forward. They are: weather forecast, altitude and percentage price changes. Let me explain how they work and what their use is.

Weather forecast - Right from the start we have incorporated historical average temperatures and precipitation for every month of the year and every location. That gives a pretty solid idea of what the weather should be like when booking a long-term holiday, however for the shorter term it does not really suffice. Using data from openweathermap.org we now source expected maximum temperatures for the coming 14 days for every location. We take the lowest and highest (maximum) temperatures in the range and show you that in the results overview. You can also sort any page with results by forecast 14 day temperatures from low to high and vice versa.

Altitude - Not entirely sure how useful this will be, but it completed our static information for each location. In the results overview we now show you the altitude for every location, and needless to say you can filter on altitudes low to high or high to low. Apparently the highest places we currently incorporate are Mont Blanc, La Paz and Uyuni.

% price changes - As you know we source average hotel rates from Expedia on daily basis. As we store these prices, we thought it might be useful to give you an indication of how far above or below average a currently stated rate is. You can see these on the location pages below the nightly hotel rate. This for instance tells us that - as of writing - Madrid is 16% above its historical average rate. Do note that the averages are calculated from the moment we start incorporating them in the database. For most of the locations this will be about half a year to a few months.

New Feature: Total Costs Of A Trip

I will be honest with you. This site is a perfect reflection of my own core interests. The first interest is probably our common denominator: I like to travel (my most recent trip in fact was last weekend, to Phuket in Thailand). The second interest is probably more specific to me: I like to puzzle, analyse data and present it to others in a format that can be of use to them.

Travel Indicator already offered you the ability to filter down on places based on distance, weather and features (mountains, shopping, culture, etcetera). It also allowed you to filter based on the average price of an overnight stay in a city, giving you an indication of how expensive a stay in a certain place would be. Today we have made a start with an additional piece of the puzzle: an estimation of the cost to get there by airplane. Imagine if you would have a database showing you up-to-date costs of flying to and staying in a certain place, and then allowing you to filter down on what those places have to offer travellers. That is what Travel Indicator has already become, and it is easy to see how useful and exciting this will be to many people!

Access the feature by showing some results, then filtering down on Total cost.

Now, hold your enthusiasm for a second. The flying costs are an estimate, and a crude estimate at that. We have looked at historical data for flight tickets, set them off against distance and come up with a simple formula that reflects historical price levels. This is far from an absolute truth, as there will be discounts and upswings and downswings in prices. Yet it should be obvious that generally speaking there is some relation between distance flown and tickets prices. This general relationship is what we are trying to incorporate, and on the whole it is expected to work better on long distances. In due time we will try to link up with a major flight ticket site to give you a real actual reflection of ticket prices. Stay tuned!

P.S. Meanwhile we have also silently added support for some additional currencies: EUR, GBP, AUD and CAD.

(Surprisingly) Cheap And Expensive Destinations

OK, so we know that although we have started giving an indication of the average nightly rate of hotels for every city we cover, that is hardly painting a complete picture of the real cost of travelling there. The obvious missing component is the cost of getting there, and this is something we are at the moment still asking you, the visitor, to fill in for yourselves. Eventually we would like to address this by including the information as well, but for now we'll have to make do like this.

Nevertheless, even being able to compare the price of all the different locations along these dimensions is interesting. Some places are remarkably more expensive than you might initially expect where some are surprising in the opposite sense. Of course it should be noted that these prices do fluctuate quite heavily on a daily basis, but in general the rankings remain fairly stable. Prices below are as of 15 December 2013. and are of course going to fluctuate.

When scouring through the list of locations currently covered, the following 10 are currently the most expensive:


Who would have thought that seeing some wildlife in the Serengeti, or the capitals in the middle of nowhere of Bhutan and Kazakhstan would be so expensive to reach? And what about not-much-to-see-here Riyadh? We find a somewhat less surprising "cheapest" ten places:


So, all in all not too surprising. What is perhaps more so is how many premier southern European destinations find themselves near the bottom in terms of costs. If you are considering a budget trip around some renowned cities in Europe, consider touching down in the following:


Finally, if the north of Europe is more your cup of tea, consider Berlin (USD 115/night) or Riga in Latvia (USD 74/night).