Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Low-Cost Travel

It's no secret that the costs of travel can vary from person-to-person, based on your individual tastes and preferences. Some of the factors that can influence the price of your trip include:
  • The time of year that you visit. Expect to pay top dollar for flights and accommodations during holidays and high tourist seasons since everyone else wants to visit too! Off-seasons can be a great bargain, but be aware that some local business may close up shop when the tourists are gone. Our favorite time to travel is the shoulder season, which offers a good compromise between affordability and availability.
  • How long you stay. You may be able to negotiate a better deal on accommodations if you stay longer.
  • Where you sleep. Do you prefer to stay in a hotel or a hostel? Campground or apartment? Generally speaking, the more space, privacy, and comforts you require, the more you'll pay for your accommodations.
  • What you eat. Restaurants aren't the only dining option. You can eat more affordably by buying groceries and preparing your own meals. Don't discount the local street food, either!
  • What you like to do for fun & entertainment. Do you like to visit museums? Attend sporting events? Go shopping? Picnic in the park? There are entertainment options available for every budget.
Knowing your travel style can help you identify the best resources for planning your trip. For example, the Let's Go series, which is written by Harvard college students, is geared towards younger travelers on a shoestring budget. In contrast, Frommers caters to a higher-end crowd by offering in-depth guides on the most popular destinations. Want to learn more? Rick Steves has got it covered. See his handy comparison of the major guidebooks here.

Do you have a favorite guidebook series? We'd love to hear your recommendations.