By Logan Sachon, Bundle.com
We could all use a vacation, and more than that, we could all use a cheap one. While we can't count on anyone whisking us away to an all-expenses-paid sojourn at an oceanfront island resort (can we?), we can count on a few new sites to deliver surprisingly good deals on vacation lodging, both the alternative (apartment in Rio, anyone?) and the luxe (that oceanfront island resort).
Rent a room in someone's home (or the home itself) on your next vacation and save. That's the premise behind Air BnB, which can find you the perfect short-term rental. For a selection of what's available, browse through Collections, which showcases top properties around the world.
Another source for hotel alternatives, Roomorama connects hosts with extra bedrooms (or pullout couches) with guests needing a place to crash. Would-be guests can also post Shout-outs detailing what they're looking for — a room for a week in NYC — and hosts can respond with tailored offers.
Off & Away
Off & Away offers users a chance to stay in luxury hotels at rock-bottom prices, with a catch: you have to win. Rooms are auctioned off at ridiculously low prices (up to 99 percent off retail). To bid, you buy credits for $1 each. If you win, you've just paid for your room. If you lose, you can use your credits towards booking a standard hotel room at a great rate through the site.
TripAlertz offers cheap travel deals with a fun catch: the more people that sign up for each deal, the lower the price gets! In the end, everyone ends up paying the same low price, so there's major incentive to advertise on your Facebook wall that you just booked a cheap trip — because as more people sign up, it could get even cheaper.
The folks at Gilt Groupe get into the travel game with Jetsetter, a site that offers discounted luxury hotels and vacation packages to members. Sales are quick — 5 to 7 days — so check often so you don't miss the best deals.
Get more about personal finance advice on Bundle.com:
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.