The Contrarian Travelers Guide

The Contrarian Travelers GuideA new book by travel writer Tim Leffel has just been published. Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less explores the philosophy of budget travel without providing specific guidebook-style listings. The whole purpose of Leffel's book is to help you avoid the herd mentality instilled by consumer publications like Conde Nast and the Sunday travel supplements.

Leffel draws on one of his other books, The World's Cheapest Destinations, for guidance on chosing the right destination. Instead of expensive Chile, Leffel recommends Argentina. Instead of France and England, pick Romania and Hungary. Instead of Singapore or Japan, go to Thailand or Indonesia. This also applies within individual countries: If you avoid the hot spots featured on television and in glossy print, you'll save a bundle while seeing a more representative slice of local life.

Chapters in The Contrarian Traveler's Guide deal with the advantages of different seasons, understanding the way flights are priced, ways to get the best deal on lodging and meals, how to avoid being ripped off for ground transportation, and the pitfalls of vacation shopping.

The book is definitely worth getting if you feel you've been paying too much to travel. It will be of less interest to veteran travelers who've already have learned most of Leffel's lessons the hard way. The biggest drawback I found with The Contrarian Traveler's Guide is the lack of a subject index. I'd have liked to have found Leffel's take on using ATMs or his advice on getting visas for weird and wonderful countries without having to thumb through the entire book. However, The Contrarian Traveler's Guide is the type of book that holds your attention from cover to cover.

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