Best Travel Sites For Cheap Vacation Deals

by Millie Kay G. on 2009-07-0624

It’s time for a vacation! Here’s a solid list of travel resources for anyone who’s preparing for a trip.

Since I have some vacation time coming up, it seems like a good idea to see what resources are out there for cheap travel.  From flights and hotels to car trips and attractions the whole family can share, there’s bound to be something for every budget traveler. These days, it may actually be an opportune time to travel — I’ve noticed smaller crowds at entertainment venues, what with the recession causing such anemic turnouts. So how about we take a tour of the travel sites that are aching for your business?

Travelocity GnomeImage by Room Candy

Best Travel Sites for Cheap Vacation Deals

Priceline. One of the bigger, more recognizable travel sites out there is Priceline, well known for their Name Your Price feature. You can snare a good vacation deal through bidding, if you’re willing to make tradeoffs on certain aspects of your trip. Check our review of Name Your Price to find out exactly how it works and what kind of parameters you’ll need to work with to receive the best prices.

Expedia. Here’s another top site when it comes to offering travel deals. If you need ideas on where to go, you can browse through Expedia’s Travel Deals.  Here, you’ll find bargains on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages, and even last-minute deals.  Their coverage is comprehensive — their site covers practically any location in the world.

 To save even more and enjoy a wider selection, you might prefer to book early for popular destinations like the Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida, and Mexico.

Travelocity. Another contender in the travel world is Travelocity, which you’ll probably be pretty familiar with thanks to its mascot, the travel gnome (I know them for being such an integrated sponsor of one of my favorite reality shows, The Amazing Race). You can book almost anything through this site, including airfare, cars, cruises, hotels, vacation packages and so on; they give you a lot of flexibility to perform your searches. Travelocity functions a lot like its major competitor, Expedia, and does a good job with providing you a lot of extra resources to help you develop your itinerary.

Hotwire is another source for discounts on airfare, hotel rooms, and other travel choices. Its Trip Watcher has the same objectives as Priceline’s Name That Price feature — it can help you snag the best deals if you can be flexible with your travel dates, destinations, and the airports you’d use if you’re planning to fly.

So how do these travel sites work? Many have similar features and functionality, although their presentation may be different. Log on to one of these sites and enter your departing and arriving cities and dates of travel. Up pops a variety of airlines, with different times of travel, and the lowest prices listed first. Just scroll down until you see a price you can afford, with the corresponding time of day you want to fly and the number of flight connections. Next step is to choose your return flight. Then, click and buy!

Budget Travel Guides

Budget Travel has a lot of resources for those of us who are looking to spend less.  The Trip Ideas section covers areas of interest such as adventures, road trips, long weekends, wine trips, and more.  The How-to Handbook discusses strategies and secrets for airfares, cruises, car rentals, and dining.

 You can stop by the Real Deals section for discounted airfares, hotels, and tours throughout the U.S. and international destinations.

Let’s Go offers travel guides for a variety of destinations such as the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia.  Written by students, these resources can guide you to great experiences without the luxury prices.  Also of interest are the stories written by various editors based around the world, so you can get an insider’s perspective of your destination of choice. 

Road Trips!

One way to save on travel is to plan a road trip.  If you’re a member of AAA, you can access maps and travel directions, take advantage of travel deals, and find assistance if you happen to need emergency road service. 

 Now to find cheaper gas during your road trip, don’t forget to visit or! 

Campgrounds & National Parks

National Parks. 
For many, cheap travel means camping.  KOA can help you find locations for tent or RV camping. 

Also, the National Park Service has a Find a Park locator.  Clicking on a park location will give you information on fees and reservations, tour fees, and the interagency pass program, in case you want to visit other national parks.

Camping Equipment. For equipment, you can browse through the offerings at Dick’s Sporting Goods or try your luck at eBay or Craigslist.  Buying discounted tents, cooking gear, and other items throughout the year will make upcoming trips become less of a one-time expense too!  And why not tap anyone in your local network of campers with equipment you can borrow? If you’ve got other families and friends you can share equipment with (along with its cost), why not?

Local Attractions for Less

A state or city’s travel or visitors’ bureau can be a guide to local deals.  For example, a state’s tourism site can contain information for seasonal activities, in addition to city and regional adventures.  And here’s something I do — when I stay at hotels, I check the lobby for coupons, brochures and the local paper for events like plays, concerts and restaurant reviews.

 I also like the idea of becoming a member of a museum, zoo, or other attraction in my hometown, because then I can ask about reciprocal membership or discounted admission to attractions in other cities.  For example, if you’re a member of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, the 2009 Reciprocal Zoo list shows that you can enjoy free or discounted admission to various zoos across the country.  Plus you can also get a discount at some zoo gift shops!

So how are you planning your vacation? As for me, all I have to do is figure out where I’m going next…

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Lovingood July 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Great article. A couple of more resources are and .

Also it is a good idea to check the airline site directly. Sometimes they have better deals than can be found on the consolidator websites.

For anyone that wants more information about where they are going, this site covers a whole list of social travel sites and other resources (not mine but a great list).

Keep up the great posts.

Donny Gamble July 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I need to take a vacation real soon. I was supposed to take one this summer, but right now my funds are a little tight. Hopefully I can take one when it starts to get cold again.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 6, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Love your list. Thanks for the great find! Anyone with a nice travel tip or story to share, we’d love to hear it. I’m personally not a big traveler but if I do go somewhere, I’d love it to be a big production. These resources should help for that purpose!

Manshu July 7, 2009 at 3:28 am

The Lonely Planet guide (the book, not the website) is a great resource. I haven’t seen many people use it, but I carry it with me whenever and wherever I travel. It’s quite a good resource and seems to have things that are not on the web yet.

Marie July 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I agree with Scott: is a great site. I have also found that has a pretty reliable 7-day “price predictor” (which has, sniff, bested me in the past).

Savings Accounts Girl July 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I actually just got back from Japan a couple of days ago – here is an add on tip (well only if you go to Japan that is) you can buy a JR Rail Pass outside of Japan for very cheap – and use unlimited JR train rides for a certain amount of time. It’s really great for exploring and that’s what I did.

MoneyNing July 8, 2009 at 10:00 am

You forgot to mention my budget travel book as a great resource! 🙂 Apart from that, I vote for Travelzoo as well. They have a weekly newsletter that send out a Top 20 travel deals list which usually consists of some amazing finds.

Max July 10, 2009 at 8:30 pm

For international flights, I’ve found that it’s hard to beat Vayama on either price or search options.

Traveller2010 July 12, 2009 at 3:46 pm

An interesting source is the “Site of Travel Sites” It group by destination or travel topics the best references on the web: Fodord, Frommers etc but also the local newspapers reference.

SavingDiva July 12, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I agree with Scott! Kayak is my favorite discount site. I set my travel dates (and any other requirements) and I get daily e-mails from Kayak. I’ve watched flights fall $250 over night…I just book it as soon as I see it to save close to 50% for my flight home for Christmas!

Camping stuff is something that almost everyone has (even if you don’t), so ask around. You’d be surprised how many of your friends own tents (and don’t use them) and would be happy to loan you a tent for the weekend.

APM July 13, 2009 at 11:40 am

Another great website is – you can search for a specific city, type of product, and then chose your price range (even free!). I like to check my local newspaper websites too, many times the events are free and of course, close by.

RT July 15, 2009 at 11:15 am is also really good, although i think they are called something else now. Either way, it redirects you to their new site. Travelocity always seems to have the best deals but it’s always good to check them all like any good budget traveler would do!

sri July 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I like travelling a lot and many a times I felt how good it will be to have a big list of all the good travel sites and hence I started collecting all the nice travel sites and articles (more than 220 sites) that will be very useful while planning for your trips. You have information about tickets, places, trip advisors, travel reviews, budget travel and many others.

World Cruises October 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I like Kayak as well.

“I have also found that has a pretty reliable 7-day “price predictor” (which has, sniff, bested me in the past).”

Could you explain a bit more about Isn’t it just a search engine? What do you mean by “price predictor”?

Patty November 13, 2009 at 3:48 am

I have used them all. I always compare and go for the one that has the best offer at the time of purchase.

Joe Lapps December 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I was a huge kayak user, but recently switched to Bing because of the price forecaster, as well as the daily email updates on price. However, if I am being honest I feel like most of the major online travel players have basically the same pricing, often only differing in price by a few dollars. I always like to check out some of the smaller players for “hidden” deals, including Trip Advisor and Hotel Tattler. I feel like the major players overlook some the deals that these sites have to offer. I also feel like the reviews, at least in theory, are a little more honest from the smaller sites.

Fair Disclosure: I recently learned that Tripadvisor was bought out by Expedia, but still I still like the check the site for deals.

Tony Kerr July 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

“And why not tap anyone in your local network of campers with equipment you can borrow? If you’ve got other families and friends you can share equipment with (along with its cost), why not? ”

I’ve never thought about this, but it’s a great idea for saving money! Great article!

– Tony

Traveller October 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm rocks anytime of the year…name your price is awesome..they have been around for this long and not one company can replicate them..

Janey February 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for the article! I’m a big time world traveler. 25 years old and just booked my trip to Antarctica for this December, it will be my 7th and final continent! I always use Travelocity for my trips because I can find great ways to help me save money.

Sally February 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

Love the sites that let you compare all of these travel sites at once.

Jay November 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

Another great way to get great travel deals is by booking directly through an airlines, as most offer greater spiffs if the price drops. Groupon Getaways is another great option! I have seen some great vacation packages over there!

– Jay

Hanna November 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Nice list of resources for cheap travel. I would encourage anybody who wants to get cheap vacations to really prepare ahead, to make use of airfare and hotels deals for specific destinations, and to pick up and get activities and restaurant coupons.

Lilly February 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm

My new year’s resolution is to travel more.. Thanks for making it cheaper :D. Nice list.

Gregson Olive February 13, 2012 at 5:45 am

Thanks for the list, I don’t want to be spending so much money on vacation which I may not make back. I enjoy traveling and will check the sites to see which one gives me the best deals.

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