10 Sites to Help You Plan a Budget-Friendly Vacation
Oh, August. If you’re in my hemisphere, it’s hot-hot-hot—and it feels like vacation time is running out fast. But if you haven’t gotten away, yet, it’s not too late to salvage some summer! Remember Rule 3? If you’ve got the flexibility in your budget, maybe a little getaway is in order?
… and maybe you don’t need as much flexibility as you think. Seize the day! With some virtual price-shopping, creativity, compromise and a pinch of luck (and these ten links I rounded up for you), you could be the envy of your Instagram followers in no time.
If you like to experience new places from a local’s perspective, then AirBnb is an obvious choice. Find a deal in a city far away, or get a change of scenery with minimal travel costs, by staying at a local listing (with a pool!).
And, did you know that AirBnb offers more than just sleeping accommodations? Search “Places” and “Experiences” for a behind-the-scenes view or adventure curated by a local. (If you’re in L.A., the Iconic Movie Locations tour looks fun, or how about learning to podcast in Indiana?) There’s something for every interest and budget.
2. Costco Travel
This one is for members only, but did you realize that Costco can help you score deals on more than just bulk packages of dental floss? Yep, check out their travel site to shop for rental cars, cruises and vacation packages—and, while we don’t suggest you rely on credit, if you’re into gaming the points system (and have the card already!), we hear that Costco’s Citi card offers some choice travel benefits.
3. Google Flights
Yes, it’s true. You can Google anything—including flights. Just enter your dates and click a place (or an interest!) that strikes your fancy. And keep an eye on the “nearby airport” or “different day” options, which could both save you some cash.
Many of us think of Groupon for local deals (I must try ALL of the yoga!) … but what about for vacation planning? If you haven’t already, give their “Getaway” deals a try. They offer “Flash Deals”, or search by interest or destination. And, like with AirBnb, you could keep costs low and try something local. A stay- or day-cation might be just the thing to pep up your next weekend.
Hipmunk is a search site that aggregates travel deals on flights, trains, hotels/AirBnb and package deals. If you get overwhelmed with similar sites, this one might be worth a try—the interface is well-designed and easier to read than most. Hipmunk also has a “Deals” tab so you can quickly see flights from your local airport!
A lot of us are familiar with Kayak’s search functionality, but have you tried their “Explore” tool? It actually says, “See where you can go on your budget.” Enough said, right? Check it out for a literal map of price tags, then customize your search by your preferred dates and even travel time.
7. Living Social
Right now on Living Social, I spy deals on international travel (11 days in London, Paris and Rome? Swoon.) and local excursions (just skim past the laser hair removal listings for gems like butterfly gardens, vacation packages or unlimited trampoline jumping!). Of course, options will vary by location.
8. Lounge Buddy
Lounge Buddy may be the best travel companion I’ve ever heard of and, used strategically, could be great for your budget, too. If you’ve got a long layover and the expense of a hotel doesn’t quite make sense, how about a facility where you can rest, enjoy refreshments and maybe even grab a shower—at the airport!
SkyScanner is a travel search site that promises the best deal on flights, hotels and car rentals. Practically hidden in their footer, underneath “Explore” you can find “Daily Flight Deals”—or click on “Cities” to see options for flights by city or continent. And, if you need some inspiration, SkyScanner’s blog has travel tips, guides and alerts on good deals.
And lastly (alphabetically, speaking), I present TravelZoo. Yes, this is another travel deal search site. I assume it’s a zoo because of the wild (and fun) selection. On their homepage today? Deals for Aruba, Vermont and Japan—oh my! And you can search for vacations, short trips or even just a night out (perfect for any budget!).
Quality Over Quantity
As you scrutinize your budget for travel dollars, remember this: vacations are good for you! Sun. Sleep. Memory-making. All free! (And a great source of Vitamin H … that’s Happiness.) So, even if you can’t go far, or time off is limited, I hope you find a way to escape your usual grind.
If you’re on Instagram, and travelling is one of your budget priorities, we’d love it if you invited us along! Use the hashtag, #YNABvacay, to inspire other budgeters (and so that we can live vicariously through your adventures!). Happy travels.