I mention frequently that my husband and I enjoy traveling. I’d say that on an average year we normally take one big trip and 2-3 long weekend trips each year. While we try to hit the road fairly frequently, one thing you should know about us is that we are super cheap travelers! We do not take extravagant vacations and we generally like to spend as little money as possible on necessities like lodging and transportation.
I’m really proud of our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. We will be there for about 10 days and our total cost for plane travel, hotels, and about 50% of our meals is less than $900 (that’s actually much higher than it could have been but we are staying at a luxury hotel — El Silencio Lodge & Spa — for three nights). Today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite websites that I always turn to whenever I’m looking for cheap travel deals.
Whether you’re about to plan a weekend getaway, summer vacation, or honeymoon, I recommend checking out these sites to help you cut down on your travel-related expenditures.
Cheap Travel: 5 Money-Saving Websites
Whenever we are traveling to Europe, Venere.com is my #1 destination for budget hotels. The reason I love this site so much is because they often feature many smaller hotels that you won’t find on the larger websites and the prices are usually phenomenal! A couple of years ago we stayed at a tiny hotel in Bologna, Italy for $30 per night thanks to a special I found on Venere.
While I love the prices on Venere, what I really love about this site is that many of the hotels do not require a deposit when you book. If you’re anything like me, you may book one hotel then keep looking and find another that you like more a week later. Since you don’t pay a deposit with Venere it is quick and easy to cancel one reservation and book another. Just make sure to read the fine print. Some hotels will charge your card 30 days before you arrive, while others will wait until you arrive.
I had never used Airbnb before my recent trip to Nashville, but this site is definitely earned a place on this cheap travel list. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, people can list their extra rooms, apartments, or houses on the Airbnb website and rent them out to people traveling to the area. The prices are generally quite a bit lower than what you might expect to pay for a hotel room, and you’ll stay in a more “homey” location.
I was trying to keep things as cheap as possible when we booked our Nashville trip, but the prices at hotels in Nashville were pretty high. The cheapest hotel rooms I could find were about $200 per night, which is way more than I wanted to spend. I turned to Airbnb and found a truly lovely pool house on the outskirts of the city that the owners were renting out for $80 per night. It was a no-brainer. We had a lovely stay and were far more comfortable than if we had stayed in a much smaller hotel room.
Airbnb is pretty popular all over the world, so you could use this site to book your lodging pretty much anywhere!
Groupon is another site that I recently discovered has great travel deals. I don’t know why I had never thought to look there, but when I was booking lodging for our Costa Rica trip I randomly checked out the site and found a deal I couldn’t pass up. Thanks to Groupon we will be staying at a four star resort in Dominical in an upgraded room for a total of $178 for three nights, which breaks down to just about $60 per day and we will get free breakfast and a $50 dining credit.
The travel deals on Groupon are a little hit or miss in that the locations are literally all over the world and you have to hope they’ll be offering a deal where you’re heading, but if you do find a deal it can save you big bucks! Just be sure to read the fine print, as travel purchases must be canceled within 7 days UNLESS the place you want to stay doesn’t have lodging available on your specific dates.
One of the only real budget travel websites I ever use to book travel is Cheapoair.com. Typically my husband and I fly American Airlines, but it’s not uncommon for their prices to be higher than what I’m looking to pay. On those occasions, I turn to Cheapoair.com and they almost always have lower priced flights available.
- CheapoAir.com almost always has a promo code available that will save you $15 on your flight price. It’s rare for airlines to offer promo codes at all, and every little bit helps!
- They piece meal flights together to fill remaining seats for the airlines. For instance, I’m flying to Florida next week and a flight on American would have cost me $500+. I turned to CheapOAir and am now flying US Airways down there and American on the way home and my flight came out to $320 (after the $15 discount). By the way, while hotels won’t let you earn points when you book from discount sites, you CAN still earn airline miles when you book with a discount site like this!
5. Regular Hotel Websites
I kind of feel like I’m cheating here because this isn’t an actual website, but I generally don’t use budget websites to book my travel and a large part of the reason is because I can almost always get better deals when I book through the hotel directly.
For instance, my husband and I decided that we’d have a “staycation” for his birthday and stay in a hotel downtown for a night. I’m pretty loyal to Marriott, so I kept checking the Marriott website for a good deal, and found it during the Oscars! For whatever reason on that one night only, all of the Marriott hotels in Chicago suddenly came up very cheap in the searches I was doing. Very cheap as in 50% lower than their usual rates! I was able to book one of the newest Marriott hotels in downtown Chicago for just $125 on a Saturday night, which is an absolutely crazy price! Right now Hilton has a “Stop Clicking Around” promotion for Hilton Hhonors Members where they are guaranteeing the lowest price (by 3-10%) and offering free internet on all stays booked through their website. It often pays to be a member hotels’ loyalty program as they reserve the best deals for reward members!
Do Tell: What cheap travel websites do you use when booking trips?
For more travel fun, check out The Perfect Carry-On Suitcase, 5 Bags to Help You Pack More Efficiently, How to Pack for a Week in a Carry-On Suitcase, and How to Pack a Carry-On Bag for a Long Plane Trip.