I am a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War and so live on a fixed income of $3,400 a month. I would like to spend my time traveling the world. Is this enough money to travel on? I am by myself and have no need for suites or bells and whistles.
-Richard, Reno, Ohio
A Web site you might want to check out is Airtreks.com, which offers round-the-world (RTW) tickets at reasonable prices. With a round-the-world ticket, travelers can customize their own itineraries to their own needs and wants. They can choose the number of places they want to see and how much they want to spend. This can be much cheaper than purchasing a round-trip or one-way ticket to multiple destinations.
The real challenge is finding cheap places to stay while abroad, especially if traveling for longer periods of time. The obvious choice is a hostel. While hostels once had the reputation of being downtrodden crash pads for backpackers, those that are accredited by Hosteling International (www.hihostels.com) have to meet certain standards. Travelers of all ages are taking advantage of these affordable lodging-places. Also check out hostels.com and hostelworld.com for options around the world, and Eurocheapo.com for decent stays in Europe.
Another option is to look into hotel-loyalty programs. Best Western for example, provides membership programs that allow you to earn points when staying at their properties and reward you with discounts when staying at different locations.
Most countries also have an intermediate step between hostels and hotels; unfortunately, it varies by country. For example, if traveling around the United States, you have the option of staying at a bed and breakfast. In Japan, assuming you're not claustrophobic, you can try an inexpensive capsule hotel, which will offer you a space barely big enough to wriggle into. In Italy, there's the option of staying at a "pensione." If traveling in Asia or Europe, you also may want to check in with a monastery or other religious institution.
Among the cheapest options are ultra-budget methods, such as couch-surfing and home-exchanges, or even spending a night at the airport. Couch-surfing connects travelers with members of local communities, who then offer them free accommodations, perhaps their own couch, and travel advice. With home exchanges, you can do a straight vacation exchange of your home with others around the world. Couchsurfing.com and seniorshomeexchange.com are Web sites that could help you if you are to choose these options.
As a (very) last resort, you always have the option of sleeping at the airport! It may not be comfortable, and it's definitely not ideal, but it is free. Check out Sleepinginairports.net for a list of airports that some say are even be better than local lodging and a list of airports that you might want to spend the least amount of time in, let alone the night.