Sunday, March 8, 2009

Travel That's Easy on the Wallet

(photo courtesy World

It's a Sunday night in ATL & we're talking about some of our favorite ways to travel smart on a budget. Thought you'd like to see a few of our tips. The rest will be in our upcoming book! Here we go:

A. Airfare:

* Use & other "fare aggregator" sites to see the best airfares offered by many airlines.

* Monitor the ups & downs of your airfare between your town & your intended destination (fare alerts) at

* Buy international airfares through an experienced travel agent for the best consolidator/wholesale deals in high season; otherwise, consider traveling in low or shoulder season to your destination to save big.

* Be flexible with your travel dates, if possible. Buy your ticket immediately if a good fare pops up. "You snooze; you lose," esp. in the airfare world.

* Go to or for great inter-European, etc. fares to places more "under the North American tourist radar"...i.e. certain eastern parts of Europe, Scandinavia, etc. Then buy airfare from your gateway city to the more affordable European hub & connect on a "puddle jumper" to your destination. (i.e. fly into London Gatwick on Delta/British Airways) & get a separate ticket to Dubrovnik on easyJet, Monarch, etc. Not recommended for packers who take a lot of luggage or travelers extremely particular about roomy seats!

* Use those soon-to-expire frequent flyer points for your complete ticket or to get a partial discount on your fare.

B. Lodging:

* Explore the U.S.A. & Canada! Find the perfect campsite listing in Kampgrounds of America's online camping directory: Or, head to our national parks for affordable lodging near the best of America's natural wonders:

* Consider staying in hostels to save money. From castles to more rustic digs, many of these budget accommodations are no longer only for youth. Good sites to check out:,,, or

* Join homestay programs like Coachsurfers, Servas, Women Welcome Women World Wide (5W), Hospitality Club, etc. Not only will your wallet smile, but you'll meet some fascinating people too.

* Rent an apartment, stay on a farm, & overnight in a convent or monastery. There are some wonderful opportunities out there both in North America & worldwide. For organic farmstays: For apartment rentals:,, Check out our post January 14, 2009 "Sleeping Pretty on a Beer Budget" post for more details.

C. Activities:

* Tourist offices & chambers of commerce are terrific sources of free info.

For a listing of many world tourist offices, go to: Remember to time your museum visit for the day admission is free or greatly reduced. Advance research before your trip can pay off royally!

* Spice up your stay with a neat folk festival, free concert, or other local happening. In addition to the tourist office sites, this one offers a good overview of events:

* Many shops/stores give discount coupon booklets for savings on local attractions. (movies, concerts, skiing, etc.)

D. Eating:

* Eat your main hot meal at lunch time when specials are common.

* Buy supplies at a deli or grocery store & picnic in your room or outside (depending on weather) for suppertime. Carry healthy munchies in your small daypack to stave off hunger during the day. Avoid impulse eating.

* Ask a local (esp. college or university-age student) where he or she most enjoys a good affordable meal. We've discovered many a great restaurant value by following a person-in-the-know to a favorite hole-in-the-wall. Believe it or not, university cafeterias ("Mensas") in Europe are often open to visitors of all ages.

E. Local Transportation:

* Recheck your rental car rate just before you go on vacation. If the price is lower than before, you can score even a better deal.

* Consider rail passes, esp. in the countries "with the more expensive cost of living." Twin passes (for 2 or more travelers joined at the hip for the whole trip) can be a great value. Did you know for example, that the Swiss Rail Pass is valid on lake steamers, on private mountain railways, & for free admission to over 400 museums all over the country?

* Get in shape before you leave. Use local transport, your feet, & bikes for the environment, your wallet, & your waistline. Happy travels!

Ann Lombardi & Wendy Swartzell

The Trip Chicks 404-320-3033

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