While pay between nurses differs greatly across the country, the one thing that doesn’t differ is the need for nurses to take time off work to decompress and destress. And what better way to do that than by taking a vacation? Uniquely enough, in the nursing profession, you can take eight days off of work without taking any PTO! How awesome is that? And while that isn’t what this post is about, that is just to point out that there is no excuse not to travel as a nurse. Instead, the point of this post is to share incredible countries around the world that are affordable no matter if you’re a nurse working in California and bringing in the big bucks, or a nurse working in the Midwest and making a little bit less.
Don’t have any PTO and you’re interested in an “8 Day Vacay”? Check out these posts! Or read 10 Countries Every Nurse Should Visit (Even if You Don’t Have PTO)
10 Affordable Countries Every Nurse Should Visit
I’ve personally visited all of these countries and have found them all shockingly affordable. I’m also here to show you that travel does not have to be expensive, but instead it can be a fun and stress-free experience by choosing countries where your dollar will go far. So without further ado, here are 10 countries you must add to your bucket list before you retire!
The Czech Republic, or what is now known as Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Czechia is bordered by Germany and Poland to the north and Austria and Slovakia to the south. The country is visited by over 20 million tourists each year, mainly flocking to the capital, Prague. Czech Republic runs on the Czech koruna (CZK) and at the time of writing, 1 CZK = 0.046 USD.
Aside from being surprisingly affordable, the Czech Republic is a beautiful and fascinating country. The country is well known for its extravagant Christmas celebrations especially in Prague where the old town is transformed into a winter wonderland. Aside from Prague, I urge you to get out and see the other charming villages in Czechia, especially Český Krumlov and Brno.
Read more about the Czech Republic:
Like the Czech Republic, Hungary is also a landlocked country in Central Europe. In a clockwise direction, it’s bordered by Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. The capital city is Budapest and is visited by 30 million tourists each year. Hungary runs on the Hungarian forint (HUF) and at the time of writing 1 HUF = 0.0033 USD.
The reason you should visit Hungary is specifically for experiencing Budapest. Spanning the Danube River, Budapest is an incredible city with a fascinating history, interesting architecture every way you turn, and tons of affordable activities to do. You could spend days in Budapest and not even scratch the surface.
Read more about Budapest:
Located in Northern Europe, Latvia forms what is known as the “Balkan States” along with Estonia and Lithuania. It’s bordered by the Baltic Sea, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania and has seen an exponential rise in tourists each year. Latvia operates on the Euro and although the Euro is stronger than the dollar, the country is relatively cheap and your dollar will stretch far.
The capital of Latvia is Riga, but don’t get stuck spending all of your time in the capital. There are tons of beautiful parks and towns beyond Riga that are just waiting to be discovered. Spend time outdoors at Ķemeri National Park. And make it a priority to spend a night in Kuldīga which is oftentimes referred to as “Venice of the North”. If you have ample time I recommend renting a car and visiting all of the Balkan States which would make for an affordable road trip!
OH and for the love of everything… please make it a priority to check out a traditional Latvian sauna when you visit.
Read more about Latvia (and the Balkan States):
There are so many fun and exciting places to visit in Mexico and depending on where you go, you can have an entirely different experience. Sunbathe and party in Cabo, experience the culture and food in Mexico City, or drink authentic tequila in the birthplace of tequila – Jalisco. There are endless affordable things to do in Mexico (as long as you stay out of Tulum), and with it being so close to the US it’s an easy destination to travel to if you want to have some fun in the sun.
Mexico runs on the Mexican peso (M.X.P) and at the time of writing 1 M.X.P. = 0.048 USD.
Ahh, Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is a country that you’ve probably only heard negative things about on the news. While tensions have been volatile in the country because of the coup, once things settle down I highly urge you to add this country to your “before I retire” bucket list. Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by Bangladesh, China, Laos, Thailand, the Andaman Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. It operates on the Myanmar kyat (MMK) and 1 MMK = 0.00071 USD.
You could spend months in Myanmar, not only because you could afford it, but because it’s a huge country with so much to see. There’s so much culture with towering pagodas, ancient relics, and historic stupas. The country has the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist monuments in the world. The people are kind and helpful and while the country is off the beaten path as far as countries in Southeast Asia go, I still urge you to take a chance and go beyond your comfort zone. In 2019 the entire country only saw 4 million tourists, so I would still consider it a destination that doesn’t garner a lot of attention.
I visited Myanmar (solo) in 2019 and had the most incredible time. I visited Mandalay, a big and bustling city filled with history. I then traveled to Bagan where I stood in awe and wonder at stupas and temples that were built in the 11th-century. And finally, Inle Lake where I was able to witness how people live in houses on stilts by being invited in for lunch and observing locals in their home setting.
Read more about Myanmar:
Another country not many people think about visiting but a place that has my heart is North Macedonia. North Macedonia is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania. The country welcomes very few tourists despite it being super cheap and having interesting and historic attractions. North Macedonia operates on the Macedonian denar (DEN) and at the time of writing 1 DEN = 0.019 USD.
If you visit North Macedonia don’t miss Lake Ohrid, the oldest and deepest lake in Europe with over 200 endemic species. Canyon Matka is an outdoor lovers’ haven and home to many monasteries. Plus you can’t miss seeing the capital Skopje and eating the local salad – shopska.
Read more about North Macedonia:
Located in Eastern Europe, Romania is a large country bordered by Ukraine, Moldova, the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. Since 2015, Romania has seen an increase in tourism by 1 million people each year. The capital of the country is Bucharest, however, I highly urge you to explore way beyond that. Romania operates on the Romanian leu (RON) and at the time of writing 1 RON = 0.24 USD.
With Romania being so large there are endless opportunities for exploring. Stick to hiking and outdoor activities, visit the wine region, or see where Dracula came to be in Transylvania. I spent three weeks exploring Transylvania and was hooked the moment I arrived. With the Carpathian Mountains leading me through the region I visited eerie castles, fortresses, fortified churches, and at times felt as though I was the only one in the country. It was an incredible trip, one I hope you take sooner than later.
Read more about Romania:
Slovenia is one of the most underrated countries I’ve ever visited. Not only is it an affordable destination, but it’s a beautiful country without all of the crowds. Slovenia is a small Balkan country bordered by Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy. They get nearly 5 million visitors a year and that number is rapidly increasing. Slovenia operates on the Euro and although at the time of writing the Euro is stronger than the dollar, your money will still go far in this Mediterranean feeling country.
Not only is Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, bursting with charm and character… but a short drive outside the city will bring you to one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been – Lake Bled. Spend at least a couple of days exploring Ljubljana and when you want to escape to a quieter and more laid back atmosphere drive to Bled to spend the day soaking in the sun and walking around the lake.
Read more about Slovenia:
What kind of “affordable countries” list is complete with mentioning Thailand (and Vietnam)? The cost to get to Southeast Asia might be more expensive than jetting off to Europe but trust me when I say, Thailand is an incredibly affordable place. Thailand uses the Thai baht (THB) and at the time of writing 1 THB = 0.033 USD. In Thailand you can find cheap transportation by taking the train, you can find cheap stays by booking hostels, and you can save money eating street food and drinking cheap Thai beer. While going south and visiting the lux Thai islands can be more expensive, there are still ways to spend time in the south of Thailand for cheap.
Thailand is an incredibly diverse country. If you visit Northern Thailand you can expect more of a jungle feel with trees and mountains and elephant sanctuaries. And visiting Southern Thailand you’ll be on white-sand beaches with aqua waters and sunshine. If you have the time, I highly recommend visiting both ends of the country, specifically spending time in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket. These three places will give you a good starting taste of what Thailand is really like and show you the diversity of the country.
Read more about Thailand:
Another popular (and affordable) country to visit in Southeast Asia is Vietnam. Like Thailand, the country is large and has so many unique things to offer. Spend time in the ancient lantern city of Hôi An, drive one of the most scenic roads in the world – the Hai Vân Pass, or spend time along the coast at the beach. Vietnam uses the Vietnamese dong (VND) and at the time of writing 1 VND = 0.000044 USD.
I stayed in Vietnam for three weeks and traveled from the south to the north. My favorite places to visit were Hôi An, Ha Long Bay, and Jurassic Park-Esque Ninh Bình.
Read more about Vietnam:
What other affordable countries am I missing? Let me know in the comments below, and happy travels my fellow nurses!