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Looking for travel deals? This year, you’re in luck.

To say that I love Italy is a bit of an understatement, and I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate that I get to write about Italy as much as I do for work. But people who know my Italy writing are sometimes surprised to hear that I write about other things for work, too. No, really, it’s true! And since it’s all travel-related, it’s all still incredibly fun to research, talk about, and write. In fact, sometimes the non-Italy stuff is the most exciting to write about.

A perfect example of a great non-Italy subject that I’ve been writing about quite a bit lately is how cheap travel is these days. The economic news is, for the most part, pretty dreary – but after the initial shock wore off people started trying to (a) figure out how to cope with the reality of a new economic situation, and (b) look for any possible bright side. For travelers who can take advantage of it, there’s a huge bright side to the economic downturn – that nearly every element of travel is cheaper right now than it’s been in years.

To start with, let’s look at airfare. It’s almost always going to be the biggest chunk of your travel budget, so it makes sense to start there when you’re planning a trip. International tickets in particular are going to cost you a pretty penny, but this year the cost of an airline ticket to just about anywhere is a fraction of what it was last year. During the low season in Europe this past winter, a time when we expect prices to drop anyway, prices were even lower than we’ve gotten used to. And the prices on airfare to Europe this summer are low enough that they look like off-season fares in some cases. Even long-time travel industry professionals are gushing over the low fares.

(As an interesting side-note, one of the byproducts of the economic downturn is that many people who weren’t planning on doing any long-term travel have decided to take off and see the world. Maybe they lost a job, maybe they just got tired of watching their 401(k) balance dwindle and thought they’d play the avoidance game until the whole thing blows over – whatever the reason, the number of people hunting for an around the world plane ticket is up this year. And the good news? Round-the-world airfare is down this year, too.)

After airfare, the next big piece of your travel budget is accommodation. I can say from personal experience in Italy over the past month that the prices on hotel rooms are markedly lower than they were last year. I stayed in the old center of Naples last week and paid €30 per night for a room normally listed at €50 per night. What’s interesting about accommodation prices, at least where I’ve looked lately, is that hostel prices don’t seem to be coming down as quickly as hotel prices – but hostels are definitely more booked than usual. Everyone’s becoming a budget traveler, it seems! But with hotel prices in many destinations so soft, it’s likely you can treat yourself to one star-level above what you’d normally choose without spending more than you’d normally spend.

Beyond those two big expenditures, the things you’ll spend money on when you travel will largely depend on where you’re going. You may be paying the entry fee at museums and art galleries, booking guided hiking tours, buying tickets to shows, or just renting some space on a private beach somewhere. Many of the prices on local sights aren’t going to be as flexible with the seasons or the economy as things like airfare and accommodation, but there are still ways to make sure you’re getting the most for your money no matter where you go. And some of the best resources for finding budget travel tips, if I do say so myself, are found underneath the BootsnAll umbrella.

If you’re going to Italy, I would (of course) recommend the Italy travel guide I’ve been working on for more than two years now. But there are equally passionate writers covering other locations around the planet. Headed for Amsterdam? The Amsterdam travel guide that Roger writers is not only full of great information about the city’s main sights, it’s also a treasure-trove of tips for cheapskate travelers to Amsterdam. Julie has France covered, and her affection for the country is clear. Looking for a destination that’s popular year-round in the U.S. – and notorious as a place where you can actually get something for nothing? Our Las Vegas travel guide can help steer you to the best deals in Sin City.

We’ve got a great network of writers covering some of the world’s most popular destinations on our WhyGo sites and we’ve got travel information on just about every place on the planet through the BootsnAll site. What’s more, the BootsnAll Community is ready and waiting and willing to help if you’ve got a question we haven’t already answered. And if you’re just looking for travel bargains, be sure you’ve got our Cheap Travel Scout site bookmarked and you check it often.

The news may not be rosy when it comes to the economy these days, but if we focus on the travel perks associated with it and ride it out together, we’ll get through it. Are you with me?