Tim Leffel's cheapest destinations blog (www.cheapestdestinationsblog.com) is a good source for ideas on places to visit without spending a fortune. His recent posts include information on Chetzalan, Mexico, a colonial town in the state of Puebla which he touts as a good backpacker place without the backpackers (yet.)
The marks of a town favoured by backpackers include budget lodging, cheap street food, cheap booze or drugs, walkability, and interesting nearby excursions. Some of the current favourites include Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, Eger, Hungary and Antigua, Guatemala. Previous picks have included Prague, Czech Republic; Ubud, Bali; Chiang Mai, Thailand and Istanbul, Turkey.
With big cities around the world becoming more crowded, noisy and expensive, you can get a lot more for the money by spending most of your time in smaller places. I would not recommend avoiding bit cities entirely, since they are generally where you find the best cultural attractions. But it is a good idea to combine a few days in a city with a longer period in a smaller town with a slower pace.
Another post discusses the cost of living in Argentina (generally low) for those who might be interested in relocating there, and Leffel interviews several Americans who have moved there. However, the most interesting post for me was one about sources of travel information, and how it pays to check several sources. I was surprised to learn that Smarter Travel (www.smartertravel.com,) Cruise Critic (www.cruisecritic.com,) and Airfrae Watchdog (www.airfarewatchdog.com) are all owned by Trip Addvisor (www.tripadvisor.com.) So sites that seem to be independent may not actually be owned by much larger sites or corporations. Trip Advisor is a corporation listed on stock exchanges.
He also notes that publications such as Travel and Lesiure, owned by American Express, seldom or never run negative articles, and contain little information on money saving travel. Similarly, bloggers who cover many destinations quickly are usually writing about sponsored trips, so caveat emptor.
Leffel's blog contains, in addition to a lot of information, many interesting photos from his travels.