Travel is one of my favorite luxuries. There are so many astounding places in the world, and yet the vast majority of us spend our time within our homes and workplaces. Even those of us who travel for work, often are only visiting conference rooms and generic hotel rooms. Travel is a great alternative to consumption of goods. The opportunity to visit a new location, take in the history, culture, and cuisine of a location, and add an experience to your life is worth more than purchasing another new sweater or jacket! Cuisine to me is one of the most important aspects of my life. I love eating! I love trying new and tasty foods. Local specialties are my favorite. Whenever you travel, avoid the big chains and try something new!
One of my favorite frugal travel tips is Airbnb. For those of you who aren't familiar, Airbnb is a hotel alternative. Individuals who have extra space, post it online for travelers to utilize when they come to visit. The spaces vary from an extra bedroom within someones home for very little money, to a studio apartment/guest house, all the way up to an entire house. The prices vary accordingly. This is such a fundamentally amazing idea, as it allows people to monetize their personal real estate, and gives travelers an option other than staying at a boring corporate hotel. Many hosts will offer tips on the locales they know best which can be invaluable.
There are many ways to find the specialties that are only available at the place you are traveling. First of all, word of mouth is extremely powerful, so I always tap my network for suggestions when I travel. Second, we are living in the days of the internet, information has never been easier to acquire. I tend to utilize websites like Yelp which offer reviews, which I of course take with a grain of salt. Also, once you are in the neighborhood and find a coffee shop or boutique you like, it helps to ask the owner what restaurants/foods they like. The shrimp po boy above is a perfect example from New Orleans. You will often get a great answer that you might not find elsewhere! Personally, I always like to try local beers when I travel, and with the proliferation of the craft beer movement throughout the USA, there has never been a better time. If you are ever planning to come to Western Massachusetts, these are the beer stops I recommend. Worcester's Armsby Abbey is pictured below.
Here are some Airbnb highlights (including a castle!)