Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guest Post: Cheap Traveling with Laura Beck

The Topic: Tight-Budget Traveling

The Dish: Today's special guest post is brought to you by everyone's favorite—and VN columnist—Laura Beck. To be honest, I go to her with the majority of life's tough questions, including where in San Francisco to get the best deals. She mysteriously knows all (which explains her gig as VN's prized advice-giver in "Ask Laura"), and is ready to share a bit of her travel savvy with you.

I’ve made it a habit of living beyond my means for as long as anyone can remember. My mom says I came out of the womb waving a platinum Am-Ex, and I haven’t looked back since (because ew, gross!). However, having chosen a career in non-profits that doesn’t exactly leave me living la vida Scrooge McDuck, I’ve had to curb my spendy ways. It sucks. The only place where I refuse to compromise is traveling for vegan food. If I can’t have road trips to Portland or weekends in New York City, I’ll seriously go Firestarter on everyone’s asses. I’ve found the best way to eat tons of food in exotic (to me) locales is travel on the hella cheap. The more you save on travel and accommodations, the more you can spend on Seitan Chimichurri at Candle 79, you feel me!?

Here are some ideas in list form because I am very helpful.

  1. Sign up for TravelZoo’s weekly Top 20. You’ll get a weekly email with all the steal and deals for getting pretty much anywhere in the world. I’ve seen $600 Round Trip flights from SF to Tokyo and $100 4-star hotel rooms in Chicago on this thing. Seriously, the deals are ridiculous.
  2. Kayak is a search engine that scours hundreds of travel sites at once. No more going to Orbitz and then Priceline and then Expedia, ad infinitum. Kayak takes care of them all in one click of the button. I love technology.
  3. A great site that’s specifically for plane flights is AirfareWatchdog. It keeps you up-to-date on the lowest cost flights everywhere. Bonus: sign up for the newsletter, which gives you the latest info on cheapy flights leaving from your closest airport. Right now there’s a round trip flight from Portland to Maui for about $300. Let’s go!
  4. The freaking coolest thing on the planet right now is Airbnb, an online marketplace allowing private residents to rent their homes (or lofts! Or apartments!). So cool. You can find deals that are way cheaper than most hotels and you’re staying in someone’s adorable home. To lessen the sketch factor, people can leave reviews of their stays. That way, you won’t be tricked into a staying in a shit box with the Manson family! You can search by price, space, and location to find your perfect home away from home. Looking for a loft in LA? Or a bungalow in Oahu? Airbnb will make it happen! Hotels are so 2009.
  5. To go super cheap on accommodations, there’s always couch surfing! CouchSurfing is a pretty rad service that hooks you up with folks in other cities who are willing to let you crash on their couch (or floor, extra bed, etc.) for free. You can also pay it forward by offering up your couch too. The best part is, you can search by specifics, so you can even find fellow vegans to stay with! It’s even been known to breed love—the couple behind Cinnaholic met through CouchSurfing! True story.

The Final Word: Now, go forward and conquer the vast world out there, fellow vegans! Spread your message on compassion throughout the world (or just eat all the delicious vegan food! Whatever, I’m not judging you!). Just don’t forget to bring me back some vegan doughnuts from Ronald’s in Las Vegas (eclairs, preferably).


  1. BREAKING UPDATE: I have one cheapy travel tip just for today! It's a 24 hour Virgin America sale via Twitter!

    Check it out: http://www.virginamerica.com/social-media/twitter.php?cid=EM_elevate3154

  2. Thanks for the tips! I CouchSurfed in Europe last summer, and plan on doing it again when I return in September. I didn't have a bad experience! Now, I'm an advocate. :-)

  3. I love Airfare watchdog and have recently added www.couchsurfing.org to my favorites! Veganworldtrekker.com is another great source for international vegan food. Check out etsy for vintage vegan (pleather/vinyl) suitcases too - you pic of them is AWESOME! Love you blog !!!!! Oh and I get the eclairs at Ronald's once a month!

  4. Another alternative for short term home rentals is Local Bigwig. There are many great homes in great neighborhoods. Check it out: