But competition (and technology) has advanced to the point where you now do not have to spend a lot of money to get a reliable remote trigger for your flash. So these days I can recommend a remote for beginners that is both inexpensive and reliable.
That remote is the Phottix Areas.
Hong Kong-based Phottix has risen from a crowded field of China-based companies and has built a great reputation. The Area remotes, at just $55(!!) for the set, give reliable performance, are hot shoe-based (for easy mounting/connections) have eight channels and run on readily available AA batteries. The only caveat is for Sony users, as some of their flashes have oddly proprietary connectors. (Betamax, anyone?) So these remotes won't fit some Sony cameras. (See footnote below.)
I have used Phottix Ares for three years now, teaching beginning lighting courses at Gulf Photo Plus with nary a hiccup.
There are lots more expensive options, with many more bells and whistles. But these are a solid choice to get a foot in the door and get your flashes off of your camera for a bargain price.
NEXT: Light Stands
Relief for Sony users: If you are using a Sony camera and/or flash with their proprietary connector, here is a great tip: Sony sells this adapter to convert the nonstandard flash connector on the camera into a standard hot shoe, and this adapter to convert a nonstandard Sony flash into a standard hot shoe. If you are using a non-Sony flash, you won't need the flash adapter.