08/01/12 1:00pm

Find your Thelma for the ultimate road trip on Zimride.com

Sponsored By Zimride.

As the largest ridesharing company in America, Zimride makes sharing rides with strangers cool (and safe).

Road trip! Something about cruising down a vast open highway with tunes cranking that just screams “AMERICA!” But every Dean needs a Sal, each Thelma a Louise, riding shotgun to manage the playlist, scavenge the backseat for toll change, and take over navigation when you get sick of listening to the British chick recalculating.

If you have a car and are planning a trip, Zimride can help you find a co-pilot and even make a little traveling cash. Passengers can get a cheaper, friendlier alternative to Chinatown buses. Through Zimride’s Facebook-integrated social network, drivers set a price per seat for a specific date and destination and passengers contact the driver if they are interested. It’s a win-win for eveyone, so enter today for a chance to win a FREE round trip Zimride from NY-DC! (more…)

02/28/11 9:16am

A WWOOFer at work in Costa Rica

It snowed for what seems like eternity, your day job is going nowhere, and you’re so ready to grab a one-way ticket outta here. I’ve been there! I don’t recommend my exact plan (read: don’t quit until Starbucks calls you for an interview; it could be a while), I do suggest WWOOFing as an atypical getaway. Forget hostel fees and the thought of surviving on a pastry and coffee till dinner: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an international network of farmers who host volunteers and share sustainable living tips in return for help with chores. For the price of a plane ticket and some manual labor, you could be herding goats overseas and eating leafy greens until your heart’s content.  Once you’ve settled into your tepee on a farm in the south of Portugal, 20 euros could last for weeks: I mostly spent cash on just beer and ice cream. (more…)

07/21/10 9:23am
Don't scream! Save money on Great Adventure photo by Flickr user jasuellr

Scream over the thrills, not the prices. Photo by Flickr user jasuellr

First thing you need to know about the amusement park in Jackson, NJ: It’s called Great Adventure, not “Six Flags.” This regional permutation of the Six Flags name has always been a fun place to go with your youth group or whatnot, with someone else picking up the tab. But can you, as a broke city kid, satiate your desire for summer thrills and chills of the ultra high-velocity variety that Coney Island just can’t offer? You can, and here’s how: (more…)

09/24/09 12:30pm
Picture 11

The Estancia Vik in San Jose Ignacio, Uruguay.

We’ve never really understood the whole Gilt Groupe membership thing—it’s a designer-discount site where they say you have to be invited to join, but anyone can just sign up here, and then you get emails about crazy sales on R.J. Graziano jewelry, Ernest Sewn jeans, DKNY shoes, Marc by Marc Jacobs menswear and the like. Sales start at noon each day, and as some of our fashiony friends can attest, they can get a little… addictive. Now they’re rolling out a luxury travel-deal site, jetsetter.com, as we discovered via yesterday’s Gilt Groupe email blast. It’s still in “preview” and still wicked expensive, but we wanted you to know because the places they’re discounting are pretty fantabulous: ranches in Montana; estates in Mustique; resorts in José Ignacio, Uruguay; and even the Hotel Rivington ($249 a night instead of the $375 on the web site.) No, it’s not couch surfing, and you won’t find a place for $500 a week here, but if you send the link to a rich relative, maybe you’ll get invited? Sign up here.

08/17/09 7:47am

dsc00762Squirrel is jittery and lean, with a look of confusion on his face. “Do you know the Rainbow Family?” he asks. “I’m part of the tribe. You can call me Squirrel. It’s my Rainbow name.” For a student of couch surfing, Squirrel is an intriguing character study, but the encounter ends as a cautionary tale.

I meet Squirrel during a five-day experiment in couch surfing through Brooklyn, which takes me from a shag rug in Bed-Stuy (not all couch surfing is done on couches) to a plush white sofa with a view of McCarren Park.

The practice of couch surfing—crashing at a stranger’s home for free rather than at a hotel or hostel—is growing among thrifty travelers both here and abroad, many of whom find each other through the five-year-old web site of the CouchSurfing 2.0 Project (CSP). Here some 1.3 million road trippers and prospective hosts (many of them one-time couch-surfers themselves) post detailed profiles listing their occupations, travel experience, personal philosophy and interests, along with action shots from the road.  As on eBay, members review one another, a practice that usually—but not always—encourages good behavior. (more…)

07/21/09 8:14am
Villas near Puerto Vallarta, $266/week and up.

Villas near Puerto Vallarta, $266/week and up.

My challenge was this: to figure out how to get a group of four out of town for a week, with a $500 budget for lodging. It was a tall order, even for this frugal traveler. Most choices at that price were slim, and they tended to look like they were furnished for our budget—several decades ago. But a bit of sleuthing uncovered rustic cabins in magnificent park settings and appealing homes advertised at higher rates but available to the skilled negotiator for less. There wasn’t a Sun Valley chalet or a Bora Bora bungalow in the bunch, but I did find some nice getaways for little more than the cost of a staycation. (more…)

06/19/09 11:34am
The owners of this Scotland house want to do a home swap with someone in NYC—maybe you?

The owners of this Scotland house want to swap it for a place in NYC. How about yours?

Camping out or staying with relatives don’t have to be the only affordable ways to escape the city this summer. If you live in New York, especially in Manhattan or Brooklyn, your own home just might be your ticket out of town, even if it’s a studio apartment.

The idea of home-swapping is simple: You make your home available to other would-be-vacationers around the world. They stay in your place, you stay in theirs, and you save a bundle on the now-eliminated cost of a hotel or B&B. “You get to know a city in a different way,” says Beth Haskel, a Sunset Park resident who has successfully traded homes with families in Copenhagen and Florence through  Home Link International. “You learn to commute like they do,” she adds. (more…)

05/25/09 9:36pm
Photo by Tamar Ashdot-Bari

Photo by Tamar Ashdot-Bari

The other day I scored a $38 round-trip flight to Ft. Lauderdale—the fourth time this year I will be flying to visit my dad there for under $40. One time both my daughter and I flew together for under $70 roundtrip—total. While Spiritair’s $9 Club  consistently has the best deals for those who can act quickly and Kayak.com is still one of the best places to get a baseline read on the fares, there are a host of great new (and newish) web sites geared toward budget travelers. (more…)