Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh, the places you'll go

This is part one of a series of articles about free or cheap travel. I'll try to complete this in the next couple of days, so keep coming back for more!

The time has come upon us. Summer time that is. The time for scantily clad babes in bikinis (or less) sitting on the beaches of Bimini or the backpacking trip across Europe or the All-American cross country road trip. These have become a rite of passage of sorts for students of our generation - at least those of us willing to sacrifice an opportunity to make money in order to take advantage of the long summers only students get to enjoy.

Despite the fact that you're probably going to have to spend money (unless you luck out and manage to find a job where you go), there are many ways in which this can be accomplished in the stingy student manner.

But before we get started, first thing is first. Where are you going to go? There are many good resources, but my favorite guidebook is the Lonely Planet series. They have a free online forum called the Thorn Tree where travelers can post updates on certain locations, discuss topics, and even plan to meet up with fellow travelers. I wouldn't recommend buying a book until you decide where to go. Just go to your friendly neighborhood bookstore and peruse the pages for free! Another good resource that a well-traveled friend of mine recommends is BootnAll. It's kind of your one-stop shop - you can book plane tickets, tours, hostels, and there's a wealth of other information.

So, now you've decided. Or perhaps you can't decide. Contrary to popular belief, the earth does not end at the edge of some infinite abyss, but you can go around the whole thing. In fact, a friend of mine is doing just that - the round the world trip. A number of companies offer the round the world ticket, and if you google it, you get a number of results.

While the ticket price overall is a good deal, for someone as cheap as myself, I find the cost to be prohibitively expensive (over $2000). If you're interested, however, Wikitravel and Bootsnall may be good places to start.

If, on the other hand, you just wish they all could be California girls, then perhaps a cross country road trip is right down your alley. Hop in a van with a few friends who you probably won't hate by the end of the trip, pack up some tents, coolers, and non-perishable food items and head whichever direction the roads may take you.

My personal favorite, kind of a compromise between the two is Central or South America. You can sleep, travel, and eat at a fraction of the cost it would require to travel in Europe and even the US. There are many good deals on airfare going to these countries. And you can even increase your employment prospects once you leave school by learning Spanish while you are there!

Up next: airfare and traveling



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