With petrol prices tanking, our beloved burgers forced to lie on beds of cabbage, and interest and council rates heading heavenward despite nationally stagnating wages, it seems Australia is being turned upside-down and all its spare change shaken from its pockets.
While similar tales of price-hike pressure play out globally, it’s nice to know there are still some experiences in the world that seem to be flying under the inflationary radar.
So here are 10 travel experiences that are a steal by Australian standards and represent great value for lettuce.
1. Renting a car in Montenegro
Looking for a spectacular AND dirt cheap road trip? Check out Montenegro! This unassuming Balkan nation offers a scenic network of roads linking mountains to rugged coastline. And with an 80-km per hour speed limit you get ample opportunity to see every crag, peak and pine. A week's car hire here will set you back less than four Australian lettuces.
2. Buying a house in Italy
Just one visit to rural Italy has many travellers swooning and saying, "If only I could buy a house and live here". Well, Italy heard you. A growing number of municipalities are joining a scheme whereby houses largely abandoned by rural to urban drift are offered for sale for one euro in an effort to preserve Italy's rustic beauty and heritage. You too can realise your dream of owning a Tuscan villa for a fraction of a lettuce!
3. Drinking wine in Italy
At about two or three bottles to the lettuce, a decent wine in Italy will outstrip any deal you'll find on a decent drop in an Aussie bottle-o. What better way to celebrate your one-euro villa purchase than with the house-warming to end them all amid endlessly flowing red vino. As a bonus, if you buy in the Abruzzo region, you’ll have easy access to the world's first 24-hour public and FREE wine fountain. For real.
4. Staying five-star in Malaysia
If the thought of roughing it just a little while overseas leaves you in a cold sweat between satin sheets, Malaysia is your place to head in this era of inflation. A five-star hotel room with all the luxuriant amenities you'd expect can be found here for less than 20 lettuces a night.
5. Trekking in Nepal
Assuming you're not wanting to climb Mt Everest (prices start at around $50,000), Nepal is actually one of the cheapest places in the world to go take a hike. Ok, on just three lettuces a day you won't be scaling the world's tallest peaks assisted by Sherpas and oxygen, but you will get superb Himalayan views as you take gentler routes between mountain villages, staying in tea houses and making friends with the world's most welcoming and hardy people along the way.
6. Drinking beer in Vietnam
Everything is so wonderfully priced in Vietnam, and beer is no exception. For a single Australian lettuce you can shout the entire bar (27 patrons) a 333ml can of locally brewed "Bia Hoi" lager. It's the cheapest bevvie in the world. And tasty too.
7. Skiing in Bulgaria
At under three lettuces for a day pass, you can enjoy some of the cheapest skiing and snowboarding in the world at the Vitosha-Sofia ski resort, just 10km from Bulgaria's capital. The resort offers 20km of powdery slopes for all grades of skill and night skiing. But as yet there's no halfpipe or ski-park. That'd only push the price up. No thanks.
8. Dining out in Tunisia
According to the latest economic research, Tunisian restaurants present the best value for eating out with prices averaging 80% less than in Australia. So as not to complicate things by comparing apples and pears when talking about chicken shnitties and Tunisian chakchouka to produce lettuces, let's just say Tunisia has cheap cuisine to die for.
9. Staying in a hostel in Albania
There's nothing like volatile economic times to turn fringe things into mainstream must-dos. Could back-packing become the new black in travel? Sounds like a topic for another blog. Currently the best value back-packing experiences are to be had in Albania. It's fledgling tourism industry makes travelling, eating, drinking and sleeping in this former Eastern block haven of intrigue a truly cost effective back-packing destination. You can easily get by on two lettuces a day, while handing over a third lettuce for a hostel bed.
10. Hiring a jet-ski in Australia
Ok, you got me. Finally, some unbeatable true-blue value. There's no cheaper place in the world to hire a jet ski for a 30-minute solo ride than our very own Gold Coast. It'll set you back around 7 lettuces for a waterborne romp among the mangroves. Water-bogans of the world unite!