After what seemed like the longest winter ever, the thought of summer vacation is enough to make you want to do a hallelujah dance. But if you have more ideas for places to go than big bucks to get there, relax. Savvy shoppers can find specials and deals to make that dream vacay real, this summer and beyond.
Let your fingers do the walking
Don’t even think about booking anything until you have worn out your computer searching online. There are a gazillion sites that can help dramatically cut your travel expenses. To get started, check out Hotels.com, priceline.com, Airbnb.com, Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, AllTheRooms.com, Groupon.com, Hopper.com, Expedia.com, BnBfinder.com, trivago.com, Travelocity.com and Hotwire.com.
Think home away from home
Who says you have to stay in a hotel? There’s plenty to be said for renting a home. Not only can it be less than a hotel, it’s more private, and you can cook some of the time, cutting costs. Check out VacationHomeRentals.com, which has more than 100,000 properties and a lastminute-deals section. You can find rentals for $170 a night in Barbados, $115 a night in Jamaica and $94 a night in St. Martin. There’s also HomeAway.com, with over 1 million properties, and Vacayhero.com is another option.
Hostels aren’t only for college kids backpacking through Europe. In fact, the trend is that many hostels are getting more chic but still cheap. Search sites like hostelsclub.com and hostelsworld.com, and you’ll be surprised what you find, much for $40 to $60 or so a night. If you’re really down for something different, go glamping. On glampinghub.com, you’ll find unique accommodations—barns, eco-pods, caves, cabins and cabooses in the U.S. and around the world. Take, for example, a barn surrounded by beach and mountains for $60 a night in Spain or a stone cottage in Tuscany for $60. A rustic railroad caboose in California’s Sonoma wine country is $99 a night.
Connect with Mother Nature. You can stay on a working farm or ranch that brings you close to the land. There are 1,000 working farms, ranches and vineyards in America that open their doors to travelers for a night, a weekend or week. Prices range from $25 to $350 a night. Get information from the U.S. Farm Stay Association, www.farmstayus.com.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is home to posadas, historic buildings reconstructed and restored into unique hotels. Da’House Hotel is a hotel-art gallery that offers the chance to immerse yourself in Puerto Rican art and music. Rates start at around $80 to $100 a night.
Get exotic. In Cambodia and Vietnam, rooms can be had for $15 to $30 a night, local dishes $1 to $2, beer for 50 cents. In Malaysia, you can eat lunch for 75 cents and find a three-star hotel with breakfast for $17. Eat at the hawker stalls and get a full meal for less than $3 with a beer.
Hit the road
It’s not all about flying. With gas prices still cheap, it’s prime time to hit cruise control in your car. Or leave the driving to someone else. Explore options on Amtrak, Greyhound or tour buses for deals.
Words: Sheryl Nance-Nash
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