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Gotta get away? There’s no better time than now

Whether it’s a trip to the Golden State or the Golden Kingdom, airline prices have been slashed as a result of the current (slumping, to use a euphemistic term) economic situation. Even more than this, many theme parks, hotels and other various travel destinations are now offering deals on admission, stays, meals and just about everything else in an effort to keep tourism afloat in a time when we all have little bucks to buy with.

I can’t think of a single reason not to take advantage, and here’s a little help:

Top budget travel destinations for 2009 (according to Budget Travel):

If you’re really looking to save – and maybe even help stimulate that slumping economy we were just talking about – stick to the U.S. for all your travel desires. Here are those top three spots:

Austin, Texas. This city is chalk full of free and affordable events this year, such as the Austin City Music Festival (Oct. 2-4). Austin is also known for its good weather, pop culture, diversified private and public sectors and art.

Washington D.C. Not even considering the freshly minted visitor sector, or the recently re-opened National Museum of American History, let’s not forget this place also offers free admission to national monuments and the world class museums of the Smithsonian.

Hawaii. Due to a major visitor slump last year, tour operators are now offering aggressively discounted room and car rental packages. We all know the rest of the reasons to visit…volcanoes, black sand beaches, crystal clear water, dolphin adventures, amazing views, constant sunshine and 80-degree weather…it’s Hawaii for God’s sake.

Now for outside the U.S.:

Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. dollar has recently surged here, gaining 30 percent against the declining local currency. Check out the country’s wonderful art noveau architecture, the famous Great Market Hall and miles of caves under the Castle District.

Reykjavik, Iceland. Another country with a collapsing currency will save American tourists 48 percent on virtually everything, not to mention airfares are cheap, cheap, cheap! Party it up at some of the most popular clubs on the planet, look for puffins and visit world-renowned museums and zoos.

Mexico. The exchange rate on the U.S. dollar to the Mexican peso hasn’t been this good in more than a decade, seeing mega price drops in even the most high profile destinations there like Cancun, Mexico City and Oaxaca. Take in the colorful Mexican culture and the world famous beaches.

Vancouver, B.C. U.S. to Canadian exchange rates have finally rebounded to 2005 levels and fares to Vancouver are at all-time lows. Check out some of the “cool” new venues like the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is now topped with a six-acre rooftop garden of 400,000 native plants and wild grasses that are partly irrigated by a sophisticated rainwater collection system.

Berlin. It’s the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throw in some of the best hotel deals on the planet and what else do you need?

Cambodia, AKA The Golden Kingdom. One of the best backpackers’ secrets of the world. Explore the sprawling Angkor complex and its magnificent Hindu and Buddhist temples.