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Resist the temptation to bring too much stuff. You won't need those scuba flippers as much as you think you do. Start by putting everything you're thinking of taking in a pile on the floor. Then halve it. Then halve it again.
If you can get everything down to one bag, that's great (my personal record for living out of one backpack is eight weeks). With airlines nickel and diming people on checked baggage, this will save you money.
Don't be afraid to do laundry while traveling. Also keep in mind what kind of luggage you'll be using. Wheeled suitcases are fine in the airport, but do you really want to be carrying it up and down stairs, or dragging it over cobblestones? I didn't think so.
Remember, if you pack it, you have to carry it around. For additional direction, read Smart Packing for Today's Traveler by Susan Foster.
Other than the plane ticket, where you stay has the potential to eat up your budget faster than anything else. I can't afford to stay in nice hotels for more than a night or two, so instead I stay in hostels (for more information, read The Official International Youth Hostels Guide or visit Hostelling International-USA). They're not just for young people, and the money you save can enable you to travel for much longer than you would be able to otherwise.
Hostels are an excellent option for meeting other travelers, and as most hostels also have full kitchens, you can do your own cooking, which will save you vast amounts of money. Besides, visiting the supermarket is one more way to learn about a foreign country.
If you have a slightly larger budget, leaf through Secret Hotels: Extraordinary Values in the World's Most Stunning Destinations, edited by Erik Torkells and the editors of Budget travel magazine
You don't have to rent a car, and a transit pass is your friend. Obviously, the usefulness of public transportation depends on where you're going. A car is far less necessary in a large city than in a remote rural area where the bus comes through once a day, if that.
And if you plan to rent a car in a country that drives on the left, PAY ATTENTION. Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than a head-on collision.
More tips are coming next month. Stay tuned.
Photo Credit: williamcho
When Erin M.’s not at the library, she’s either traveling (actual or armchair), playing with wool, or keeping an eye on pop culture. With the occasional bit of something completely different.