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How to Become a Frugal Traveler

Options for Low-cost Travel Destinations

Frugal travel is a relative term: A ski vacation in Switzerland is probably going to cost more than tramping through Bolivia, for example. So, before your trip, research your destination and post on forums to get specific advice on how much you can expect to spend in a certain destination before you book the trip.

One money-saving strategy involves finding a less-expensive alternative to a quintessential travel destination. Many vacation destinations offer special packages or deals in the off-season or shoulder seasons. Try booking a ski trip as the temperatures start to warm, or take a Caribbean vacation during the hurricane-stricken autumn.

Regions recovering from political strife, natural disasters and economic turmoil can also be sites for cheap travel. Kugel suggests considering areas whose notorious reputations are outdated. Colombia, for example, is decades removed from its epidemic of drug violence, and there are still regions of Mexico far removed from the drug violence of the northern border. (Safety is more important than keeping a fat wallet, of course, so don't travel alone in high-risk areas.)

For perennial low-cost travel destinations, look to Central America, Southeast Asia and India. And while exchange rate isn't everything, traveling in countries with a local currency stronger than the dollar is almost certainly going to be more expensive. But beyond the core expenses of transportation, lodging and food, nearly every expense is discretionary. "There's at least two days of free stuff to do in every city in the world," Kugel says. Ask about discounts wherever you go. But unless you're traveling on a shoestring for its own sake, make sure to budget for the activities you truly want to experience. "If you love theater and you go to New York City, you should go to a Broadway show," Kugel says.

Click ahead to find out which mode of travel is the cheapest way to reach your destination.