36 Sites to Use for an Affordable Vacation

by David Sung

The air is hotter, the nights longer, kids are out of school and everyone is trying to getaway – otherwise known as vacation. Big travel companies have promoted the idea of vacation very well, so much so that people save their sick days just to make sure they have enough vacation time.

So what is a vacation? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as a “period of time that a person spends away from home, school or business usually in order to relax or travel.” It’s also a given amount of time away from work that an employer agrees to pay an employee. However, both of those definitions fail to mention that taking a vacation involves a lot of work!

Can you remember the last time you had a vacation that was completely stress free? Even honeymoons involve some work to plan, schedule and enjoy. We’ve compiled a list of 40 different sites with the savvy traveler in mind, to make taking a vacation or staycation a breeze.

Travel Discount Sites

Groupon and Living Social are great for goods and services but did you also know they offer discounted travel packages? These sites can be credited for opening up new ways for people to explore their travel options.

Travel deals change frequently and expire within any number of hours or days. Some packages on Groupon will even include transportation, flights and car rentals, which can be a huge barrier especially for international trips.

Travel Tip: Check the fine print on travel packages. Some offers specify travel dates or arrangements for at least two people.

Travelzoo is another site you can add to your list of must-use-sites. It is very similar to Groupon and LivingSocial but its primary focus is delivering experiences on a local, national and international level. The team at Travelzoo handpicks destinations and will inform you about flash fare sales for a specific travel period. Other notable sites include Jetsetter and Vacationist.

Additional sites like Airfare Watchdog, SeatGuru by Tripadvisor and FareCompare make it their mission to stalk airlines for even the slightest change in fares, allowing you can set up alerts to be notified when something changes. Are you a Bing or Google user? What you may not know about either platform is that they have their own travel search functions too! Google Flights and Bing Travel have simple and easy-to-use interfaces that pull results from various sites. No more multiple screens to look at, and you can select a number of stops, airlines, and the duration of your trip. You can use either version to find hotels as well.

Booking Sites

Now, there is no shortage of travel booking sites. If you already know where you want to go and you just need help filling in the “how” and “when,” – booking sites are a great resource. The most popular are:
  • Kayak.com
  • Hotwire.com
  • Booking.com
  • Travelocity.com
  • Expedia.com
  • Priceline.com
  • Orbitz.com
Less known but worth checking out:

One of the perks of using a booking site is the majority of them will pull listings from other booking sites in addition to what is advertised on major hotel, airline and car rental sites. However, navigating a booking site might prove to be daunting as they produce multiple windows with multiple – if not duplicate – results. Travel Tip: Taking a vacation doesn’t mean going far. Some of the best ways to relax and enjoy an affordable summer vacation are right in your city!


Getting to and from your vacation is just as important as where you’re going. Even if you’re taking a road trip, getting around is something you’ll have to figure out before you hit the road. Ask yourself these questions:
  • If you’re staying at a hotel, how much is it to keep the car in the parking garage?
  • If you’re staying at a resort but want to leave to explore other areas of the city, how much is a taxi or bus?
  • Is street parking available? And if so, how much is it?
  • If you’re staying at a state park, is there a parking fee?
  • How much should I budget for parking fees and meters?
  • Does the hotel or resort offer a valet transportation service?
  • What other transportation services are available to help you get around?
To help you answer the last question, check out ridesharing services like Lyft or UberX. Ridesharing is basically a taxi service with a personality and lower fares. Both companies are app-based services and come with their fair share of amenities, so make sure that you do your own comparison and choose one that works for you.


For travelers who don’t have a relative or a friend to stay within their destination city and aren’t renting an RV – finding a place to stay is the second priority. Some packages may include accommodations or recommendations for where you should stay.

Hotels.com specializes in, you guessed it, hotels. So, if you just want to focus on accommodations, it’s an easy choice, however, it isn’t the only option you have to finding a great place to stay.

AirBnB has championed the idea of the hotel alternative and for travelers who want to enhance their experience with more elements of “home,” it’s perfect. The platform works like this: Everyday people rent out their homes at more affordable rates than a typical stay at a hotel. Residences include houses, apartments, condos, flats, villas and even your own private island!

AirBnB isn’t the only company offering this service, actually there are quite a few:

If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can try couchsurfing.org. The concept is simple: people offer their couch to travelers around the world – for free. Now, free is a flexible term because you might want to purchase a gift or give the hosts money for food etc.  Some hosts may be able to provide a bed or an entire room but you shouldn’t expect it. We don’t recommend this service for families and the community has very serious couchsurfing guidelines.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you book an accommodation:

  • Location (including distance from airport and attractions)
  • Amenities
  • Price
  • Family friendly
  • Pet policies
  • Room capacity limitations
  • Room location (some places will allow you to pick your room)
Is there anything we might have missed? If so, leave us a comment with a site that’s helped you take a dream vacation on a budget.

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