Backpacking on the Cheap

From the Grand Canyon to Hawaii, it's never been cheaper to hit that trail you've been lusting over

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Always wanted to make that trip to the azure Havasu Falls, winding coastal trails of Hawaii, or a life list national park, but just haven’t gotten around to it? There’s no time like the present, my friend. Thanks to the downward spiral of the economy, tour companies and airlines are cutting their prices or giving away trips for free.

Hankering for an all-inclusive, guided trip to the Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls? You can hike through the towering canyons and eat prepared meals by the impossibly blue water for cheap or even free. Tour companies like Hydros Adventures are offering deals like $100 off their three and four day packages and also have drawings where you get the entire trip for absolutely nada. The neighboring Havasupai tribe has scared some visitors in the past (read a BACKPACKER feature on a past tragedy here) but with a guide and proper precautions, there shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

If you’ve spent time drooling over our featured hikes in Hawaii—grab a napkin to check out Kauai’s Na Pali Coast via the Kalalau Trail—now’s the perfect time to give them some serious thought. Thanks to a decrease in tourism from countries like Japan, Hawaii is offering big deals to lure more travelers to their epic beaches and volcano jaunts. Check out cheap airfare sites like where flights that went for over $600 last year have dropped to about $400. And make sure to bring your camera—prices are bound to go back up and you may never be able to justify making the trip again.

Traveling is great, but the ultimate penny-counters can still find amazing vacations in their own backyard. Visits to National Parks are always cheap and no matter where you live, there’s bound to be one close by. Check out our Parkfinder site to explore some backcountry near you.

Explore, frugal traveler. The world awaits your trekking poles.

—Morgan Keys

Image credit: Gonzo fan2007 (via Flickr)

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