5 Websites That Make Your Vacations Cheaper


Ryan Ong



On my last vacation, I almost got myself a $1,200-a-night suite. I pulled out my MoneySmart name card, explained that I was a world famous blogger, and that I expected a fair discount (of around $1,200 a night). I was able to lock myself in the room for 15 minutes before I was upgraded. To high security in the local jail, that is. After that experience, I figured it’s best to turn to more, um, specialized websites for my vacation discounts:


1. The Luxe Nomad

The Luxe Nomad has listings for hotels in South East Asia. Bali, Laos, Malaysia, all the places with nice beaches and too many Australians. And while hotel listings are nothing new, the Luxe Nomad has money saving flash sales.

During a flash sale, listed hotels cut their prices by as much as 40%. So a $1006-a-night room might become a more affordable $610 a night. These aren’t like the budget hotels I’m always forced into either (i.e. not so much hotel rooms as potential sets for a Psycho remake). Some of The Luxe Nomad’s listings, such as the Cape Sienna and Sukothai, are luxury names.


Big rocks on the water
Pictured: The only cheaper rooms you’ll find in Thailand. Nice though, huh?


The site also lists upcoming flash sales, in addition to what’s there.  I don’t know how far ahead these go, but it looks to be around two weeks. If you’re not the sort to over-plan vacations, that short period isn’t a big deal.

Just follow the sales, and see where they take you (Spoiler: Smashed on a bar floor and wondering who took your wallet. But it was awesome fun).


2. Kayak

As you can tell from the name, Kayak is all about airline tickets. See the connection? Planes? Little boats powered by oars and grunts? Yeah, neither do I.


We were inspired by the average budget airline. As in this kayak could get there faster.


Anyway, Kayak is a functional as it is unglamorous. The site aggregates flight information from other sites, like Travelocity and CheapOair; then it lumps the results on one page. That does for plane tickets what MoneySmart does for home loans. To use it, just head over there and enter your flight details: Where you’re going, when you’re going, what class (I’m told mine is “none whatsoever”), and you’re set.

Kayak also recently added car rentals and hotels. If you’ve tested Kayak for these purposes, do comment and let us know how it went. For more in-depth updates on air travel, follow us on Facebook; we’ll look at the issue in a future article.


3. Airbnb

What is it with travel sites and bizzarely irrelevant names? Oh wait, airbnb stands for Air Bed and Breakfast. Which considering it’s a vacation rental site, still falls under 50% on Ryan’s “Scale of Making Sense”.


Dinner table suspended off the ground by a crane
The first Air Bed and Breakfast had uncomfortable beds, and tended to block pigeon migration.


I’ve mentioned in another article why vacation rentals have been all the rage these past years. If you’re adventurous, on a tight budget, and are handy with an axe should you end up trapped in a psycho’s log cabin, go rental!

Just enter where you want to go at the title screen (let’s try Iraq, that’s pretty popular). And look, there a listing for where you can rent there. If you skip the more exotic options (you can hire castles on this site), you can usually find a guest house or apartment cheaper than a hotel.

In my experience (grand total of twice), a vacation rental room cost about $80 per night, which beats most hotel rates.


4. Your Various Coupon Services


Eye inspection
I see fine, but could you add a touch of myopia? There’s a Groupon voucher for contact lenses today.


I’m talking about services like Groupon. And if you haven’t heard of Groupon before, do show me the secret portal to your secluded other dimension. But just in case:

Groupon gives you discounts on a daily basis. These are sort of “flash discounts”, which are valid for that day only. The service is free. What a lot of people forget to do is to set the relevant city. So if you’re going to Montreal, for example, you want to unsubscribe, then re-subscribe with Montreal as the city.

Yeah it’s a bit awkward, but it’s not like you’re losing anything. Anyway, coupon services usually ensure that there’s at least one dining offer going on; that might save you some money on meals. Especially if you’re gone for a couple of weeks on end.


5. DirectAsia Travel Insurance


Tons of luggage reaching the ceiling
“Why no sir, there aren’t any bags missing from the check-out.”


DirectAsia is actually an insurance company. By staying online, they reduce the cost of their premiums.

DiretAsia’s travel insurance has some interesting alternatives:

  • An annual plan for frequent travellers; so you don’t have to buy each time
  • Play with the coverage to only get the protection you need (e.g. remove coverage for personal belongings, if you just have one backpack of junk)
  • Get special rates if you insure a group or family

You can get coverage in a matter of minutes. So even if you’re leaving this weekend, just take about 5 – 10 minutes to look at their quotes.

Image Credits:, Jason Cartwright, natalielucier, Annie Mole, roger momaertsrobefs

What are your favourite sites for budget travel? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.