Travel on a Budget
Take a vacation without spending a fortune with these helpful resources and insider tips.
If Multiple Hotel Rooms Are Draining Your Wallet...
1. Rent a house or a condo. For families or groups, renting can be a lot cheaper than paying for the same number of beds in a hotel. A recent search
in San Francisco, for example, turned up several two-bedroom apartments (that sleep at least four) for around $250 a night;
most hotels were between $150 and $250 a night for a single room. Renting is a particularly good option in smaller destinations
where hotels are scarce, or in major cities where hotels are ultra-expensive. Visit homeaway.com, resortquest.com, and interhomeusa.com for listings in the United States and abroad.
Before renting, always request to speak directly with the property owner and ask specific questions. ("What exactly does ‘beach access’ mean?") If you’re renting in Europe and willing to pay 20 to 30 percent more, try using a villa company, like LaCURE Villas (lacurevillas.com) or Villas of Distinction (villasofdistinction.com). They will have inspected each listed home and can even act as a concierge recommending specific properties and planning activities.
2. Opt for a small hotel. "Americans focus way too much on chain hotels that cater to business travelers and corporate budgets," says Tim Leffel, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune (Travelers’ Tales, $13, amazon.com). In contrast, smaller, independent hotels―common in Europe and Latin America―are cheaper and often contain apartment-style suites with compact kitchens and living rooms.
3. Swap houses. If you live in a popular location and you’re willing to let a stranger sleep in your bed, join a home-exchange site. For an annual fee of about $100, you can list your home and gain access to a database of other members’ homes worldwide to arrange a swap. Check out homeexchange.com and homelink.org. Always talk extensively with your swapper and, if possible, ask for references. It’s also a good idea to invest in a safe and check your home insurance to see how guests are covered.