In this dark time of economic downturn I keep reading that many folks are not travelling. They are taking “staycations”. This is where they take their vacation leave and just stay home or do day-trips around their region to save money.

If that is your thing, then ok, but really, travel can be done without staying in top of the line places (unless always going first cabin is your thing, and if that is the case, you can just stop reading now).

So many folks say “Flying to Europe is just so expensive!” Well, airfares are up and their amenities are down, I won’t quibble there, but there are ways to minimize costs. If you are going somewhere on the continent, consider finding the cheapest fare to London, pretty easy to do. Check the aggregator sites, and once in London, take the connector bus to Stanstead Airport and fly a cheapo airline like Ryanair to wherever you are going. Book in advance and be prepared to be nickel and dimed (Oh, you want a SEAT…), but it is far, far cheaper.

Do you have to stay in a three star or above hotel? How much time do you really spend in your room? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t fly over there to look at wallpaper or watch TV or eat a $5 bag of nuts out of the minibar. Check Tripadvisor for the most recommended hotels in whatever city you are going to and look for one in a more reasonable price range. They do exist. Even in popular areas.

Think guided tours are too pricey? Get a map of the local bus line. Almost every bus service has a circle route, and those usually pass by all the major tourist sites. Ride it back to where you got on and you have seen the town. Guide books are cheap; you don’t need the latest edition. C’mon, how much have the sites in Rome changed in two years? If you like commentary, search the web for a podcast and bring an MP3 player with you.
Or look for walking tour companies. Check the brochures rack in your hotel. Very cheap, very informative.

There are all sorts of discounts and deals on the Internet. Search a bit. Magazines like Frommer’s Budget Travel are good sources too. Even in these tough times, you can still afford to expand your experiences with travel. And, yeah, I’m the guy who started the TRAVEL group here on Gov Loop. If you want to know more about traveling and chat with other travel-savvy government employees like yourself, drop by.

If you do decide to plan a “staycation,” check out GovLoop’s Per Diem Calculator. It provides a lot of useful information about hotels, restaurants, events, and more in cities throughout the country.

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Craig Kessler

I love traveling and for me being in my first summer in DC and wanting to save some money have been really trying to get to know the area better with simple staycation type trips. I enjoy being active and have been doing some half day hiking trips and have more planned. Staycations can be great if you can plan for it well, and can save a lot of money.


Love travel but staycations are awesome…I prefer something in the middle which is traveling to see friends and stay at their place. save a lot on hotels/foods/etc and can just do low-key stuff.

Barbara Dundas

There are too many people who hit the tourist places in their home town only when they have out of town guests. The advantage of living somewhere is that you can attend the free or half-price admission times and save your money to travel elsewhere for vacations. The tips above are good ones. I’d recommend checking on reciprocal membership opportunities, i.e. you have a membership to your science museum and can visit any other in North America for free, free nights in the city to which you are travelling, and multi-venue passes. And eating food from grocery stores, of course.

Brenadine Humphrey

I’m in Germany right now and can tell you there are easy and cheap ways to travel overseas. You are right the biggest cost is the airfare from the states, but if you can get a deal into any of the major airports – London, Berlin, Brussels (luthansa runs with United Airlines and often has cheap deals) or Paris (Charles deGaul is an awful airport to navigate but kind of cool) then there are tons of small airlines with good deals (besides RyanAir, which I love). If anyone needs any info. feel free to drop me a line. Also, there are great little places out of the major cities that are still cheap and an inexpensive bus ride into town. For example, if you are interested in Prague, then stay in Chesky Krumlov – its about a 6 euro bus ride into Prague for the day but hotels are half the price…great group, looking forward to more travel!