Affordable Europe: Go east!

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Despite all the bad news about the economy and the future of air travel, a trip to Europe is still possible with some creative planning. That's the theme of Clayton M. McCleskey's article in the Dallas Morning News (and of our own ongoing Affordable Europe series).

Among McCleskey's tips: Think east to cities like Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, and Zagreb. Eastern Europe remains a good deal for those with greenbacks. He also recommends strategic ATM usage, picnicking whenever possible to cut down on food costs, and considering a cruise as part of your trip.

The Times of London also has some advice on choosing cheaper destinations. For instance, instead of heading to overrun Tuscany, explore Umbria's medieval hill towns: "It’s Italy—it’s contractually obliged to be gorgeous. It’s just not called Tuscany, so they’re not allowed to rip you off and herd you about like sheep." Although the advice is targeted to Brits, much of it also applies to hopeful American travelers.

If you prefer a trip that doesn't involve a long flight and passport hassles, be sure to check out this Practical Traveler column from the New York Times on bargains close to home and MarketWatch's tips on getting a good travel deal in the Americas. The best advice here, I think, is to be flexible, looking first at fares and then thinking about which of those places you might like to visit.

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