April 16th, 2011

Vacation Trends That Help You Save

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If you’re thinking about traveling this summer, you should also plan out ways to save money while you travel.

Instead of racking up expensive hotel bills, why not choose a more affordable alternative?

Here some of our favorite suggestions for travel stays on the cheap.


Calling itself a “community marketplace for unique spaces,”Airbnb is a network of individuals with space to spare and people who are looking for places to stay. When you’re planning a trip, go to Airbnb and search for your travel destination to find a space available for your travel dates. You can stay in places ranging from this cabin-like art studio in San Diego for $55 per night, this homey, spare bedroom near Charleston, South Carolina, for $50 per night, or this small room in New York City for just $40 per night.

If you have some space to spare and want to make some extra dough, you can also list your space on Airbnb. You’ll be the one confirming the reservations at your space, so you can choose who you want to host.. Just remember that once you confirm to host a traveler, you should honor that commitment.

Airbnb is headquartered in San Francisco and has host spaces in over 8,000 cities in over 160 countries. For more information on how Airbnb works for both travelers and hosts, check out the website.


For a free—but potentially risky—option, choose CouchSurfing. With the mission to, “Create inspiring experiences,” CouchSurfing is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping people explore the world and make meaningful connections to the people they meet. And it’s free to CouchSurf.

It works like this: Create a profile on the website. As you’re planning your trip, start “CouchSearching,” or browsing through profiles of members with couches, and then making a “CouchRequest.” Once your request is accepted, you set up a meeting time with your host, and get traveling! As a host, you also make a profile to list your couch, spare bedroom, or even a hammock.

While CouchSurfing can be great for adventure’s sake, it’s also less reliable than sites like Airbnb because it doesn’t have a strict agreement process between hosts and surfers. Because it’s free to CouchSurf, couch owners are technically able to cancel on surfers and leave them without a place to stay. For that reason, CouchSurfing recommends that surfers take enough money along to cover the cost of a hostel, just in case.

The CouchSurfing network lists over 1 million available couches and has about 2.5 million members in 245 countries and territories. And even though it may be considered a risky way to travel, 99% of all member feedback on the website has been positive.

Lost Campers USA

If you aren’t comfortable staying with a stranger or just like the idea of mobile camping, check out Lost Campers USA campervan rentals based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s similar to renting an RV for a summer road trip, but with Lost Campers, you can rent a minivan that’s been outfitted with a full-size bed, a portable outdoor kitchen, and cooking kit. You’ll be able to camp out in a van that doesn’t take up as much room or require as much upkeep as an RV.

True, you’ll be a little squeezed for space in a Lost Camper campervan and there’s no bathroom. But with prices right around the same per-day cost as a car rental, you’ll save a bundle by not paying hotel costs. Just remember that you will still be paying for gas and possibly campsite rentals.

Tip: And if you want to go international, Escape provides campervan rentals in Australia and New Zealand.

Go camping!

One of the best ways to save money on a vacation is to “rough it” in the great outdoors. You don’t even need to have your own equipment because most outdoor sporting goods stores, such as REI and Eastern Mountain Sports allow you to rent tents, sleeping bags, outdoor cooking equipment, and more.

To find a campsite, check out Recreation.gov or Go Camping America to find campsites and to schedule camping sessions.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, consider using one of these alternative travel experiences. You might just end up having the time of your life while saving some cash.

Where are you traveling this year?

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. I have been using Credit Karma to track my credit scores for a couple of years now. Up until a few months ago, it all seemed to make sense. But lately I have lost all confidence in the service due to wild and unexplained swings in my credit score, both up and down. Today was a perfect example. I logged in and saw that there has been one change in my credit report since my last login: my “average age of open credit lines is up 1 year.” This is said to have a “medium”, positive impact on my credit score. Great! So what the the impact in numbers, on my score? Vantage: no change. Transrisk: DOWN 6 points! Epic fail.

    Karma User at 5:43 am on April 18, 2011
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    bethy at 8:58 am on April 19, 2011

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