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Three Cheap Travel Tips

Cheap travel means you get to go more often, go on longer trips or just save some of your money for other things. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean low-quality travel. If you find a way to get a cheaper plane ticket, for example, you might be flying on the same plane as with the more expensive tickets.

Of course sometimes you can save money by traveling differently, and that’s okay too. Why pay an extra $40 for a hotel if you like the idea of staying in a hostel with visitors from around the world? Why rent a car in countries where good bus and train systems make for cheaper and more interesting trips?

Essentially you can travel cheap in two ways. First, you can find cheaper ways to get the same thing. The other, perhaps more powerful way, is to alter your expectations and plans to create a more interesting trip that is also inexpensive. The tips that follow will help you do both.

1. See if you can book two flights cheaper than one.

My wife and I are thinking about going to Ecuador this year (2007). Checking for our approximate dates, I found that it would cost $950 each round trip from Colorado Springs, or $1,900 total. Then I checked from Colorado Springs to Miami. It would be $215 round trip. From Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador costs $350 round trip. That makes it just $565 to Ecuador, or $1,130 total – a savings of $770.

Of course, if you are going to do this, you have to find flights that have enough time in-between them. You probably won’t get e refund if you miss the second flight because of a delay on the first. In our case, we have friends near Miami, so we’ll just arrange the flights to be a day or two apart, and go visiting. Even after the cost of renting a car for a couple days we’ll still be hundreds of dollars ahead.

2. Live in a new place for a while.

One way to make a vacation less rushed, cheaper, and in many ways more interesting, is to stop going from hotel to hotel. Why not stay in a place, and even rent a condo or apartment? We did this a few years back in Tucson, Arizona. It was nice to escape winter for a couple months, and it was fun to explore and get to know a new city. Often you can save hundreds of dollars this way, versus paying by the night for hotel rooms.

3. Be an opportunistic traveler.

This is the most valuable of these cheap travel tips. There are so many things to do out there and so many places to see, so why get stuck on just the ones you have already thought of? With a little luck, you might find a more interesting place to go for half the price. With little shopping, you might find a bed and breakfast in whatever country you visit, and pay less for a more interesting experience.

First look for all the possible alternatives that are less expensive. This isn’t about doing something you don’t want to do. But among those cheaper choices there might be a perfect trip for you. Why not find out? To start with, do any of your friends live in interesting places? Visiting friends is a great way to save on travel costs and have a load of fun (with the right friends).

Here’s a good example of being an opportunist. We were in the mountain resort town of Banos, Ecuador, and asked about the cost of taxi ride to some waterfall. It was $15. It was apparently a popular attraction with tourists. We kept that in mind as we wandered around. Then we saw a chiva (an open-sided bus with seating on the roof) go by playing music. We asked about that.

The chiva took us on a tour of the city (I rode on the roof), then up into the mountains for a view of the city from above. Then we watched the volcano Tungurahua erupt and spit out a bit of lava. They served us hot rum drinks (included in the price), and there were fire-juggling entertainers. Passengers had to push the chiva to get it started for the trip back to town. The cost of all this? $3 each. Cheap travel does not mean uninteresting travel.

Copyright Steve Gillman. Get the free Travel Secrets Ebook, as well as travel stories and tips, at http://www.everythingabouttravel.com
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