From the Magazine

4 Ways to Enjoy a Vacation for Less

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Whether you’re planning a last-minute warm weather getaway or looking ahead to the holidays, vacation rental sites like Airbnb let you book lodging in a privately owned place at rates up to 50 percent less than a hotel! To lock in the lowest price, check out our tips below.

Search out big savings.

Found a vacation rental you love? Before you book, Google the property’s address or description. “Many times, rentals are listed on more than one site at different prices, including traditional travel-booking sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor, and you could end up finding it elsewhere for a lower rate,” says Anita Kaltenbaugh, author of Travel Secrets: Insider Guide to Planning, Affording and Taking More Vacations. Pro tip: “Often, you can get the best savings if the owners have their own website that lets you book directly since it means you sidestep rental site fees, saving you on average $10 to $50.”

Bundle your way to 20 percent off.

Love the lower price you get when you bundle a car, flight and hotel on Expedia? “You can also get bundle discounts on Expedia by booking privately owned vacation rentals, saving you about 10 percent to 20 percent,” says Kaltenbaugh. To do: Select the “Bundle and Save” option in the top menu, pick your destination, travel dates and what you’d like to bundle (such as “Flight + Hotel + Car”), then press “Search.” You can then filter the results by selecting “Vacation Rentals” to quickly find the best bundle deal!

Request a “special offer.”

Vacation rentals may have listed rates, yet owners are still willing to lower them for certain reasons, says Kaltenbaugh. “For example, if you’re making last-minute reservations and a property is still vacant a day or two before your trip, many owners would rather give you a deal than let it sit empty and make nothing. Or if you’re planning an extended stay, owners may discount their rate or give you one night free since it means less work for them, such as cleaning.” To see about a discount, Kaltenbaugh advises contacting owners directly and asking if there are any “special offers” for last-minute bookings, extended stays or other reasons.

Consider first-time rentals.

As properties rack up more five-star reviews, they get more popular — and also more expensive. So look for rentals from folks who are just starting out. “They often offer a lower rate to attract vacationers who they’re hoping will love their stay so much that they’ll leave positive reviews,” explains Kaltenbaugh. “My sister started renting out a condo in North Myrtle Beach and needed reviews, which would help her get more business, so she made her rental rate cheaper than everyone else’s and ended up fully booked!”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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