• Staying there: Try bidding, or look for deals on flash sites like groupon.com/getaways and jetsetter.com. But more often than not, I opt for vacation rentals at sites like airbnb.com, vrbo.com, homeaway.com and flipkey.com.
• Eating and drinking there: If you rented a place with a kitchen, use it! Have breakfast at “home” and pack lunches for the day.
• Seeing the sights, getting around: Do online searches for terms like “free music in Memphis” or “cheap things to do in Sydney.” Check local websites such as myfreeconcert.com, ilovefreeconcerts.com (in New York City) and sf.funcheap.com (San Francisco).
• Budget pick for 2013-14: Bolivia. South America’s best-value option offers public transport as cheap as anywhere on the continent, filling street food and good-buy-for-the-money excursions.
Travel Channel experts: Jodi Bettencourt, vice president of digital editorial, and Anthony Melchiorri, host, “Hotel Impossible.”
• Getting there: Be flexible. You can often save money simply by moving your departure or arrival dates by a day or two. Use aggregator booking sites like kayak.com or hipmunk.com that can do the date and fare comparisons for you. (Bettencourt)
• Staying there: Franchised hotels have begun offering a “lowest rate guarantee,” meaning that they “promise” that the rate on their website is equal to or lower than rates on the discount sites. If you book directly with the hotel, you are also more likely to have perks included (like breakfast and upgrades). (Melchiorri)
• Eating and drinking there: Seek out the popular, most recommended place for one meal — you know, the one “must visit.” Then, for your next meal, find the mom-and-pop local eatery. These establishments often have survived the onslaught of competition because of loyal patrons and good local fare. (Melchiorri)
• Seeing the sights, getting around: Walk. I’ve found some of the best tourist attractions, gift shops, shopping and dining by walking and stumbling across something that had little to no parking or would have been missed had I driven. (Melchiorri)
• Budget pick for 2013-14: Nicaragua is perfect for adventure seekers and nature lovers. (Bettencourt)