Its no secret that travel is my biggest vice. If there's anything I "waste" money on, its travel. That said, I go to great pains to make my travel affordable, so its far from as extravagant as it probably looks. While there are cheaper ways (my sister is a pro at that and often stays at hostels, which are often much nicer overseas than the typical US hostel,) one thing I find myself doing more often is renting apartments instead of hotel rooms. You can still find amenities like internet, plus you usually get a kitchen, and sometimes even washing machines (a bonus on long and overseas trips - pack less, wash more). You also have more privacy and they're often as nice if not nicer than a hotel. But best of all, you experience neighborhoods more like a local instead of a tourist. This is much more common overseas than in the US, but its gradually catching on here, especially due to sites like airbnb.com. On airbnb, you can rent an entire apartment, a room in someones place, or even just a bed or couch in a shared space, depending on your preference, budget, and level of adventure. Another good site to look for in the US is homeaway.com, however that is generally geared more toward vacation rentals, so places are often bigger and higher priced (plus searching for specific availability is extremely difficult on homeaway.com). Or, dont forget to use Google, especially for overseas travel (or maybe Yahoo, now that Google has become evil.) Since this kind of travel is more common for Europeans, there are lots of sites, often city-specific, that offer listings. The pics above are all places I have stayed for less than I would have paid for a hotel in places from Vancouver to Boston to Paris (sometimes as little as two nights.) I'm in the midst of finalizing this years European adventure, and for the first time it looks like I may be doing the entire thing with no hotels. Stay tuned to see how it goes.
[apologies for blog posts before 1/2009 that are not yet updated to format]