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Cheap Vacation Ideas

You don't need a lot of money to get out of town for a few days. Here are some ideas that are less likely to kill your budget.

All-Included Cruises
A cruise might sound expensive, but once you consider that all meals are included, it starts to look much cheaper. As long as you watch out for the extras (alcohol, for example, often comes at a steep price), you could find yourself with a great deal. We easily found singles' cruises as low as $87 per night, which blows away the $235 average cost per day of the typical vacation.

Cities Close to Home
If you live in New York, a weeklong trip to Rome will cost you at least $1600. However, take a comparable trip to Philadelphia instead and it will only cost $750. Find a city or town within driving distance and you can save a lot. Less exotic? Sure, but go with the right attitude and you can have just as much fun. It's much better than no vacation at all.

Going Off-Season
You can get a room in the Miami Beach Ritz-Carlton for almost $400 less per night in June than in February. The weather isn't as optimal, but for the most part you can see the same sights and do the same things. If you want to get closer to the peak experience, try visiting during the "shoulder" season closer to the most desirable periods.

Compare camping on the beach in San Diego for $45 per night to staying in a two-star hotel far from most major attractions for $70. Roughing it can sometimes be more appealing than a funky-smelling room with a moldy shower, and sleeping under the stars makes for better memories. Even if you're not a gung-ho camper, remember that what you do matters more than where you sleep.

Plan a roadtrip carefully and, despite high gas prices, you'll get more for your money than you would if you flew to a large city. Roadtrips allow you to explore places that are more unusual and out-of-the way (and also cheaper). For those weary of the airlines, the flexibility and relative comfort of a road trip can be a welcome change.

House or Apartment Swapping
The hotel is often the most expensive part of a vacation, especially if you're staying for more than a weekend. Save money by exchanging your New York or San Francisco two-bedroom for a seaview apartment in Palma de Mallorca, or your home in Denver for a hiking trip in Arizona. As a bonus, you get a closer look at how the locals live.

Going Last Minute
You can find half-price airfare by booking at the last minute. You do have to be willing to leave with only a few days notice and you'll only be able to choose from a few destinations, but such trips can be a steal for someone with a spontaneous spirit. You can save on hotels using this method, too.

Elsewhere on the Web
Tim Leffel's Cheapest Destinations
Roadside America: Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions


The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
Study Abroad, Travel & Vacation in College
European Vacation Rentals


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