We skipped the expensive gondola rides to explore the side canals and window balconies of Venice on foot, making our way to St. Mark's cathedral via the Rialto Bridge. The bargain paninis (grilled Italian sandwiches) we found were a bonus. Walking tours are a great way to save money on the road.
Fun factor: The City Walks with Kids series by Chronicle Books has child-friendly activity cards with maps for city walking tours around the world, including London, Paris, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Workingtolive.com's Julie Rains is a fan of family hiking. She and her family have enjoyed the Alum Cave and Rainbow Falls trails of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, as well as hiking to the Leconte Lodge, an off-the-grid hotel in Sevierville, Tenn., only reachable by foot or helicopter. Gear: The right gear is critical to a successful walking experience,
particularly when it comes to footwear. Max Levitte of cheapism.com, a value product review site, recommends both the New Balance 760 walking shoe and the Keen Voyageur hiking shoe. The footwear is available in the $80-$100 range. Carry water bottles and small snacks to avoid spending on snacks and beverages. Dress in layers, and carry a backpack to hold accessories for your hike or tour.
Heritage: Whether traipsing around Rome's Piazza Navona, or touring the sponge docks and Greek neighborhood of Tarpon Springs, Fla., street strolling lets you soak up local culture. Walking tours in Ybor City, Tampa's Latin quarter, provide a peek back in time to the city's Cuban cigar trade, and the opportunity to enjoy a Cubano in the city where the sandwich was invented. Spain's Camino De Santiago and the Appalachian Trail in the United States each provide a time-honored long-distance experience allowing for personal reflection.
Low or no-cost tours: Free guided tours are available in Miami and New York City. NYC by Foot (www.nycbyfoot.com) is one of several groups offering free pedestrian tours of New York City. In South Beach, the Miami Design Preservation League, offers self-guided walking tours of the historical Art Deco District, featuring architecture from the 1920s-1940s. The tours can be downloaded onto a portable device and are available in English, French, German and Spanish. Gpsmycity.com offers downloadable iPhone walking tours to cities around the world for less than $5. Options include a Belgian beer tour in Brussels and a sight-seeing walking tour in Berlin.