The ability to travel is such an incredible, mind-expanding experience. Travel awakens both the soul and child inside, reminding us how much there is to see in the world. Often, the cost of travel can seem like an intimidating factor, but travel websites such as Orbitz and Expedia help cut costs dramatically. In addition to these sites, here are a few things you can do in order to guarantee the best bargain for your buck.
--Research ahead of time. Check out Rick Steves' show on PBS or his website for cheap travel tips and also to find out where the locals are hanging. Steves does an incredible job of cutting through the tourist attractions (except for the ones that you can't miss) and planning a voyage that allows travelers to do it like the locals. Go to https://www.ricksteves.com.
--Travel at off-peak times. You can probably go to Brazil in November for one-fourth the price it would cost you to do the same trip over New Year's. That brings us to the next point...
--Buy your plane tickets and accommodations in advance. The travel industry definitely rewards the early planners with reasonable rates. If you're a last-minute kind of gal or guy, be prepared to pay extremely inflated ticket prices -- to deal with sold-out hotels -- and for much more of a hassle than is necessary.
--Be open to doing things differently. Some of the best trips are when you meet new friends along the way and just kind of wing it. Staying in hostels is a great way to connect with travelers (check out Hostelworld.com), and maybe you'll end up as travel companions! If you're a little skeptical about the hostel situation, try out Airbnb. You can stay in people's homes, vacation homes, cabins, lodges, etc.; there's a ranking system, and you can connect with your Facebook friends to see whether they have any recommendations. Airbnb also allows you to view the people renting out a place, to contact them directly and to compare ratings and reviews. You can find entire places to rent out yourself, or you can opt for a room in a place and potentially meet a new friend.
--Facebook! Facebook is such an incredible tool to connect with your friends around the world. Put out a feeler and see whether anyone you know happens to have access to a villa in Italy or a great bungalow in Costa Rica, or maybe someone will even invite you to stay at his grandparents' apartment in Paris. Facebook users also love to help one another out. Go ahead and post about where you want to go, and just wait for the eager comments from friends and family with suggestions and more help than you could ever ask for.
In addition to Orbitz, Expedia and other travel websites, sometimes international places will have entirely different discount sites. You can Google what you're looking for, the more specific the better. For example, if you want to find cheap plane tickets from Budapest to Munich, make sure to mention those details. Ryanair has awesome deals throughout Europe. If you're traveling between cities in the U.S., you'll want to check out megabus.com, where you can find tickets for as low as $2! For real.
Happy travels, and remember that the joy is in the journey -- but having a really cool destination definitely helps, as well!