I like to travel, but with the cost of gas hitting nearly $4 a gallon taking that summer vacation could get awfully expensive. However, if you're willing to travel on short notice and give up a few creature comforts, there are ways of traveling dirt cheap...even free!
Share the Ride - Think of this as "extreme carpooling". There are web sites, such as eRideShare.com, where you can find someone with a vehicle who is traveling from your city to another city to which you are traveling. The site specifies origin, destination and travel dates, and also includes terms like splitting the cost of gas and other expenses. Sometimes, you can event find a ride for free!
Pros: Cheaper than driving yourself, could save you a lot of money
Cons: You don't know the person you are traveling with, the trip could be one-way
Become a Courier - If you have a sense of adventure and can travel on extremely short notice, and don't mind running an errand along the way, you could sign up to become a courier. You can sign up at one of many web sites, including Courier.org, and find yourself traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore or London for drastically reduced or even free airfare. You simply grab a flight on short notice, agree to give up part of your baggage allowance, and carry and deliver a package at the travel destination. Once recent courier flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong was only $250 for airfare.
Pros: dirt cheap airfare
Cons: must fly on short notice, you might only be allowed one piece of luggage, may not get dates you want to travel, some courier services require a membership and there are scam sites on the Internet. Buyer beware!
Crash at Somebody Else's Pad - I don't mean stopping by unannounced at your third cousin's house while you're on a road trip. You can find a free place to stay while you are visiting a destination by agreeing to house sit. Some services even facilitate a house exchange, in which you stay at someone else's house, say...in Japan, and they agree to stay at your place in Cleveland. With the cost of hotel rooms increasing all the time, it's a free option.
Pros: Avoid the nightly hotel rates, more amenities than a Motel 6, stay at a private residence
Cons: You really don't know the people staying in your house if you're doing a swap, but then again you're in their place, too.
RV for Free - How would you like to drive your RV to a national park, park for free and get free electric and water hookups, as well as use of the park? You can, if you are a workamper. The catch? You have to work off your room and board by doing an assortment of jobs for the park while you are staying there. Aside from the perks like free parking (which aren't available at all workamper jobs) you also get paid an hourly wage.
Pros: see the sights, sometimes includes free use of amenities, free parking, etc.
Cons: You've got to work during your vacation