Ninety-nine percent of the people who didn’t travel last year most likely fit into one of three categories: those who aren’t into travel, those who cannot travel due to physical problems and those who think they can’t afford it. My guess is that the majority of people fit into the last category.
But, travel can be done on a budget, even a very limited one. And, depending where you go, your daily expenses might be lower than they would be at home (this has happened to me a few times, as I live in an expensive part of the U.S.).
If you think a great vay-cay in 2012 is just a pipe dream, check out the creative ideas below, and reconsider visiting an incredible place new to you this year. Budget travel experts Wes of Johnny Vagabond and Nora Dunn of The Professional Hobo, share their been-there-done-that info.
Use the Web to find independent accommodations: Expedia and Kayak can help you find discount hotel rooms, but to go really cheap, stay with a local, and make at least some of your own food (which will save you even more). I have used AirBnB successfully several times to rent out rooms from local people and Couchsurfing is a service that will help you find free spaces with traveler-friendly locals. Will you get a bellhop to carry your bags and access to room service? No, but you’ll save hundreds, and get to know a local person in the process — which often leads to even more savings, since they can hook you up with deals that even travel guides won’t know about.
Eat like a local: Wes says, “Walk a couple of blocks from the touristy area and check out the restaurants and cafes where the locals eat. The food will be twice as good and half the price. It's also a great way to meet people.” Nora agrees, advising hitting the local market for a fun cultural and money-saving experience, but says you still have to look out for ‘supermarket traps’ in foreign countries.
Adopt a “slow travel” plan: Spending more time in fewer places will make for a more meaningful, less expensive, and less hectic experience. Can you work virtually? Spend a month or two in Guatemala or Costa Rica instead of a crazed five days and you will spend less (perhaps even finding a work exchange for accommodations). Also, you will really get to know the place.
Ask for upgrades: “For financially sustainable travels (with a touch of class) get discounts or freebies ... simply by asking. I traveled around Hawaii for a week in a blue convertible, for the price of a basic compact car — all by asking! I've also gotten first class upgrades and hotel suites this way too,” says Nora.
Nix the fancy travel gear: You don’t need special clothes or new luggage to travel; keep it simple and use what you have (or ask friends or family for things like conversion plugs and money belts, which many people have hanging around, unused). And pack as lightly as you can; you’ll only end up paying luggage surcharges and straining your back.
Trim your itinerary: “I know you want to see it all, but ask yourself this: Do you want to see it or experience it? Make sure that you have plenty of time to explore and enjoy each destination and that you're not spending half of your time in a bus or on a train because you're trying to see too much. You'll have more fun and be more relaxed if you keep the number of destinations lower while saving money on transportation — it's a win-win,” says Wes.