1/24/09

Travel Tips In Troubled Times

We're now in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere but it looks like only migratory birds have actually made it south. More Americans are doing stay-cation, a way to cut on the cost of daily living and live life more pragmatically. Even Wall Street workers are less worried about travel than they are about job security.
As the US economy continues to sneeze and the rest of the world gets the cold, travel in many ways has been affected. It's not a question if one takes the plane, boat or bus or stays in a hotel, hostel or a guest house. It's if travel is still affordable. With most of the world's economy already affected, it costs more to stay away from home these days. Even that miserable sandwich in an airplane is getting expensive.

But is there still a way for affordable travel these days?

Holly Morris, one of my favorite peripatetic writers and a Globetrekker TV host, believes so. In the February 2009 issue of the National Geographic Adventure, Holly writes in response to a reader's query that "one must get creative, back to basics, and if possible, off the grid".

Does that mean we all have to go to the boondocks? Not necessarily. I always start by planning an off-season trip to a certain destination. If I'm planning an international trip right now, I'd be scouring first for deals to Asia or Europe from the airports closest to me, using Kayak.com and Sidestep.com. I compare prices and then check the airline's website. Another way is to get e-mail alerts from airlines by subscribing to their sites which gives one a heads-up on very good deals. One site that's also very helpful in my search for cheaper airfares is Farecast.com - it tells me whether to buy now or wait based on its predictions of airfares between certain cities.

For accommodations, I trust Hostelworld.com and Hotelclub.net to find me reasonably-priced foreign digs. If I find my destination involves more nerve-wracking logistics beyond airfares and accommodations, I look for adventure outfitters as they offer a wide variety of trips with small groups, a tour leader and no extra charges for single travelers. I've joined GAP Adventures and Intrepid Travel in some of my unforgettable jaunts. What's more, their last-minute specials offer discounts up to 25%.

To maximize savings once I'm in a foreign city, I try using public transport right from the airport to wherever I want to go - the locals use them so it's a great introduction to a public utility. I grab city maps or even download one from the Internet and study them even before my arrival to familiarize myself. Tourist brochures in hostels and hotels are often jammed with discounts and freebies. When I want to eat, I look to where most locals go - and I don't mean McDonalds - as it's one of the best ways to dig into foreign culture.

These for me are most of what makes a trip not just affordable but truly memorable.

5 comments:

  1. hi den,
    i need your advice , i am planning to go to paris with my girls where should we stay? what is the best landmark or museums we need to put on the top of our list?
    i admire your travel accomplishments. thanks-wennie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your marvelous advice..

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  3. It is a very nice post and good Travel Tips. I am really thank for sharing your thoughts. Thanks

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