If you’re considering traveling, and planning your own trip is about saving money, getting off the tourist trail makes it even easier to travel cheap. Soon, I will post further in detail about how to find the best prices no matter where you travel, but keep in mind that you can take care of most of your major planning online ahead of time - with resources like Kayak.com, Hostelworld.com, Couchsurfing.com, Hospitalityclub.org and Vayama.com.
A few suggestions on where to start:
-Start first with a map, (Google maps works just fine) then pinpoint where all you want to go and decide on the best routing for your trip - but try to leave yourself enough room for possible change.
-Stay in hostels, not hotels. (they’re safe, ignore whatever idea that idiotic movie has conjured in your brain)
-Better yet, use CouchSurfing and for free accommodation - I’ve used this service many times and it’s fantastic. (often your host will become your own personal tour guide, as well as your chef)
-Compare prices of transportation, especially if you wish to hop area to area. Research the price differences between buses, trains, airplanes and car rentals.
-Book early, duh!
-Be flexible with your dates - sites like Kayak let you view future rates, up to months in advance even.
-Don’t expect pure luxury - traveling cheap isn’t always easy and it’s definitely not always comfortable, but neither is opening yourself up to change from a whole new world.
-Budget for cheap eating - street food vendors and grocery markets are best. Plus, you have the chance to try a lot of local favorites! (while I was on the little island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, I tried conch - you know the sea shelled creatures)
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help - there are plenty of spectacular resources online, like Lonely Planet, Fodors or Rick Steves. Don’t forget about travel forums, these are great places for personalized help from people who have been through what you’re going through - I would suggest Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum or the destination-based forum groups of CouchSurfing.com. And of course, you can always shoot me an email - I would love to help!
(Photo by Brandon Elijah Scott / Eye & Pen)