You Deserve a Vacation
How does four nights with monkeys and macaws at the most remote ecolodge in South America sound? Dreamy, right? How about an oceanfront resort in Antigua? Not too shabby, either. What if you could get the trips for a quarter — even a tenth — of their price?
Travel is just another industry being revolutionized online. Standard booking websites are being upended by unusual outlets offering one-of-a-kind deals. Not only can you find off-the-beaten experiences, but you can save a ton of money, too.
Tumble down the rabbit hole with us. You deserve it.
My hands-down favorite travel site is Charitybuzz, where you can bid on amazing experiences while your dollars go to a worthy cause. Take a minute to peruse the travel category; at publication time I found four nights of monkeys and macaws at the most remote ecolodge in South America for $500 (estimated value $1,944) supporting the Center for Responsible Travel and two nights at New York City’s hip NoMad Hotel with two tickets to Carnegie Hall for $510 (estimated value $1,500) supporting MS Hope for a Cure. Bonus: As with all nonprofit auctions, if the trip of your dreams goes over the estimated retail price, you can usually write off the difference.
Bidding For Good
Bidding for Good operates along the same lines as CharityBuzz, but focuses more on domestic travel that supports smaller nonprofits and schools. You can search by travel type (cruises, spa packages, outdoor adventures, etc.) as well as location and price. At publication time, I found seven nights at an oceanfront condo in South Carolina for $400 (estimated retail price $1,200) supporting the New Jersey Animal Welfare Association and a week for four guests at an all-inclusive resort in Antigua for $300 (estimated retail price $3,000) supporting the Arizona Association for the Gifted and Talented.
My favorite feature of Luxury Link is the weekly Mystery Auction, where bidding for a top-notch vacation starts at only one dollar. Hints are given in online forums and emails, and if you win, you’ll be the only one to find out your destination. At the time of writing, a package of five nights in the Caribbean for two was going for just $481. If you can be flexible with your dates, this is a fun and affordable way to spin the Travel Wheel of Fortune.
SkyAuction is another auction site that covers everything from airfare to cruises and more, with a great global reach. You can search by type of travel (from simple round trips to elaborate packages) and destination. At the time of writing, luxury hotel rooms in Shanghai were starting at $69 per night and a week at a coastal resort in Massachusetts began at a mere $259. Happy trails!