'Have (less) money, will travel'

March 25, 2009 5:29:57 AM PDT
Thinking about taking a vacation but worried about the expenses? Real Simple has all the tips you need to travel without spending a fortune.

Although the cost of flying can be very expensive, there are ways to reach your destination without breaking the bank.

Check fares regularly on sites like Farecompare.com or Travelocity.com because airlines are finally cutting their prices. Some of these sites will even alert you via email if a selected fair has changed. If you are travelling internationally, explore non-US airlines, like Aer Lingus or Easy Jet.

You should also consider taking a road trip, since gas prices have finally gone down.

Dodge the costs of multiple hotel rooms if you are travelling with your family.

Renting a house or condo can be a lot cheaper than paying for the same number of beds in a hotel.

Visit sites like HomeAway.com, ResortQuest.com, and Interhomeusa.com for listings in the US and abroad.

Just remember to speak directly with the property owner and ask specific questions, like "What exactly does 'beach access' mean?" and "Is construction going on nearby?"

You can also opt for a smaller hotel. Just visit the official tourism website of your destination, then look for reviews on sites like Tripadvisor.com

If you can only travel at peak-times, remember that you don't always have to pay peak-prices?

Choose a bargain destination, like Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Hungary.

Also check foreign exchange rates - countries with faltering currencies are a steal at any time of the year.

Pick an off-season location.

During the summer, Mexico or the Caribbean are pleasant, and will be less crowded.

Research "secondary" destinations.

Opt for towns that are on the outskirts of major cities or resorts.

For example, Sayulita Mexico is a secondary destination to Puerto Vallarta.

To avoid over-spending during the trip, plan a budget or consider a fixed-cost vacation.

Before leaving, look up the cost of museums, public transportation and food.

All-inclusive packages offer great deals by lumping meals and activities into the final cost.

Resort packages, group tours and cruises are great options.

You can find great deals on sites like Beaches.com, Travelocity.com, Intrepidtravel.com, and CruiseDeals.com.