8 Places to Get Cheap RV Rentals Near You

Renting a recreational vehicle, or RV, is a great way to hit the open road. But you don’t need to buy one outright in order to get a taste of Americana. There are plenty of RVs available for rent, some for as low as $1 a day.

Prices vary depending on when you rent, the size of the vehicle you choose, and the RV rental provider you go with. If you’re not in a major metropolitan area, your choices will be more limited. But if you live near a big city, you’ll have lots of options.

Traditional Fleet Rentals

There’s an entire industry of stores that specialize in RV rentals. While many of them are local, there are also a few big chains that stand out.

Before you decide on a provider, it helps to understand RV types. Class A RVs are the biggest motorhomes. They’re the ones built for full-time living on the road, and they look similar to a huge bus. The downside is that they only get eight to 10 mpg.

Class C motorhomes are more popular for camping. They look more like a moving van or truck, with a bunk above the cab. They get about 18 to 25 mpg — significantly better than the Class A RVs.

Fifth-wheel RVs are trailers hitched to a pickup truck bed. They have more space than a Class C RV but, like a Class A, only get about eight to 10 mpg. They’re also harder to drive than a Class C. You tow them behind a truck, so they can swing around on the road.

Here are nine places you can go to get a cheap RV rental near you.

1. Cruise America

Cruise America is the largest RV rental company in the U.S. It owns its entire fleet of 4,500 vehicles, and rents out RVs all across the U.S. and Canada. Its fleet vehicles range from truck campers all the way up to large RVs.

We compared pricing across all of the RV rental companies, using a 7-day round-trip rental for the smallest Class C available on February 1, 2018, going from Los Angeles to San Francisco (not including any optional add-ons, but including fees, taxes, and required insurance).

Cruise America’s all-in rate: $1,237 for the week. That includes an estimated 700 miles of driving at a 35¢ per mile charge.

2. El Monte RV

El Monte RV is the second largest nationwide RV rental company. It’s got the largest selection of slide-out vehicles. A slide-out is a compartment that, like the name says, slides out once you’re parked for extra space. They’re a luxury that can really make the difference between living in comfort and getting by in a cramped space.

El Monte’s rental locations are mostly franchised, so most likely you’ll be working with a local owner-operator. Collectively, the company has 28% of the RV rental market.

El Monte’s all-in rate for our hypothetical trip: $1,705. That includes a prepaid mileage charge at 29 cents a mile for 700 miles.

3. Road Bear

Road Bear’s focus is on Class C RVs, with one Class A model available for rent. The company has eight locations in the U.S., but also rents RVs in New Zealand and Australia.

Road Bear’s all-in rate for our hypothetical trip: $1,040. That includes 1,000 prepaid miles at a cost of 42¢ a mile.

Peer-to-Peer

Renting directly from other RV owners presents a great opportunity to find an RV that better fits your need, at a location that’s more convenient to you. There are a number of peer-to-peer (P2P) RV rental companies disrupting a rental industry that hasn’t changed much for decades.

4. Outdoorsy

Leading the way in this area is Outdoorsy. The company features almost every available recreational vehicle on the road, including large SUVs.

Using the Outdoorsy website, you can search for people nearby with available RVs to rent. Each listing features a detailed description of the vehicle’s condition, amenities, features and more. You can view photos and find out how many people the vehicle sleeps.

The price is clearly listed, along with Outdoorsy’s protection benefits. For renters, these include a $1 million liability policy (valid in the U.S. and Canada) and 24/7 customer service.

For an additional fee, renters can also buy roadside assistance coverage, trip insurance, comprehensive and collision insurance, and RV rental damage coverage. The latter could be a lifesaver, as it covers accident damage to the interior while the vehicle is parked. It’s something that Outdoorsy strongly recommends if you are transporting children or pets in the RV.

To make the rental process seamless, you can also tack on extras to your rental. These include amenities such as bedding, chairs, tables and even a bicycle. More importantly, you can also have the owner fill the fresh water tank before your trip or dump your waste tank after the trip for an additional fee.

One thing to keep in mind is that Outdoorsy runs a DMV records check prior to renting, to make sure you have a clean driving record.

On our hypothetical trip, a late model Winnebago Navion Class C RV cost $258 a night, 100 driving miles a day included, with no generator fee.

This peer-supplied all-in price: $2,243. That includes taxes, service fee and cleaning fee.

5. RVshare

RVshare is a similar platform to Outdoorsy. The main distinction is its differing insurance coverage levels.

Using our hypothetical trip, a 2015 Winnebago Trend cost $1,400 for the week, with 200 driving miles a day and four hours of generator time.

This peer-supplied all-in price: $1,609. That includes taxes, fees and required insurance.

While the price of our P2P rentals were higher than other options on this list, if you live in a market not served by other companies, this could still be a good option.

6. Locally Owned RV Stores

Additionally, there are locally owned and operated RV rental stores. You can find them through a simple Google search.

These independent RV stores set their own rates, own and operate their own fleet, and are a part of your local community. They are sometimes part of an RV sales dealership as well.

Either way, these local shops have the power to set their own promotions and cater to the needs of the local rental community. They can also be a great source of information for those who are new to renting an RV.

7. Jucy

Jucy RV Rentals offers a different twist on traditional RVs. Evoking the days of the old Volkswagen Eurovan, these “mini RVs” are actually minivans with small pop tops.

The modified Dodge Caravans sleep four and seat five. Two people sleep inside the van, while two other people can sleep in the “penthouse.” Basically, it’s a tent that you hand crank to open from a roof box mounted on top of the minivan.

Inside the minivan is a table and fold flat seats. In the back, the rear hatch opens up to reveal a kitchen setup with sink, portable stove, and a small fridge. There is even a manually operated sink faucet built in.

Jucy minivans rent for about a quarter of the cost of an RV, but you’re giving up a lot of space (and a bathroom).

For our hypothetical trip, we went with the larger model with the small pop top. Since we would be booking for seven nights, each night comes with 100 miles of free driving, so no additional miles were needed.

Jucy’s all-in price: $292.60.

8. Third-Party Booking Sites

There are also third-party reservation sites where you can book RVs owned by other companies. Some are affiliated with existing RV rental companies, others are independent. A few names include Apollo, Motorhome Republic, Motorhome Bookers and Expedition Motor Homes.

Whether you go with a national chain or a local rental shop, most of these booking sites offer one-way, round-trip or off-season discounts. All you have to do is go to their websites or just ask.

9. Relocation Deals

The best deal on cheap RV rentals are courtesy of relocation specials. Much like rental car agencies, RV rental companies need to have the right vehicles in the right place at the right time. Matching supply to demand is a herculean task for any rental vehicle company with locations and vehicles spread across North America.

Normally, re-positioning vehicles requires employees to drive the vehicles. Or, the rental companies can pay transportation truckers to load the campers onto their carriers. It’s a high cost way of moving vehicles. So, rental companies have one other trick up their sleeves: employing you to do the job for them.

If you happen to be going to the right place at the right time, you may strike gold with one of these relocation deals. We’ve seen prices as low as $1 a day. With discounts like that, RV rental companies are practically paying you to do their jobs.

The rental companies will advertise re-positioning deals on their websites, usually within a few weeks of needing the vehicles delivered. One rental company, Road Bear, even advertises deals as far as six to nine months out.

You also need to take into consideration other restrictions. Typically, given the immediate need for these rentals to be at the destination, you are only given a certain number of days to make the trip. Then there’s often a limit on the number of extra days you can add onto your rental. You’ll need to weigh whether these restrictions are worth the discount.

Of course, the daily rate is just for the RV rental itself. Other fees usually still apply. These include charges for preparation, mileage and liability insurance. In addition, rental companies will try to sell you extras like convenience kits, which include items such as bed linens and cookware. And don’t forget you’ll be responsible for fuel and campsite fees.

Most importantly, most RV rental companies charge an hourly generator fee of about $3.50 an hour. Count on using it for a few hours a day if you’re not at a campsite with an electrical hookup.

When you power up the generator on the RV, there is a meter that keeps track of the time it is on. You will be charged per hour for the use of the generator, unless otherwise specified, or unless you purchased an unlimited use package.

One relocation website to check out, in addition to the RV rental companies, is imoova.

Summary

The bottom line is that there are many places where you can get a cheap RV rental. But the better question to ask is what kind of road trip are you are looking for?

Can you compromise on space for a cheaper rental vehicle? Would you be willing to adjust your itinerary to take advantage of a relocation deal?

The best thing to do is to determine your needs first, then seek out deals that make financial sense for the type of experience you desire.

Have you had a good experience renting a cheap RV? Tell us about it on on social media!

10 Ways to Score a Cheap Flight

Trying to score a cheap flight can be a maddening. Airline pricing seems like a black box of mysteries impossible to solve. When is the best time to book your ticket? When is the best time to fly?

As an avid airline industry follower and a consumer advocate for over a decade, I’ve got some tried-and-true strategies that I have used to score cheap flights. Some are easy to implement, others may take some extra work. But by working smarter, you can land a cheap flight.

1. Pick the Cheapest Dates

Up until the early ‘90s, scoring the cheapest tickets always involved planning a Saturday night stayover. That’s because airlines would charge higher fares for business travelers.

They tend to fly during the week, but be home on the weekend. Leisure travelers typically stay away for a full weekend, and airlines would try to lure them with cheaper flights.

Nowadays, airlines price their tickets dynamically. In other words, they can very closely track supply and demand, changing pricing in a split-second based on what’s going on. Did your favorite sports team make it into the Super Bowl, for example? Before you can even turn off the TV, airfares to get to the big game have already increased.

So how do you get around this dynamic pricing? Look for days that have lower travel demand. Typically, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays are the cheapest days to fly. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sundays are often priced higher. The price follows demand. You can test out this theory by choosing a “7 day” or flexible date view in the price search engine.

Time of the day matters, too. Often, if you’re willing to take a red eye, or the first or last flight of the day, you can get a better price.

2. Sign up for Email Newsletters and Sale Alerts

There are three types of email communications to be aware of when it comes to cheap airfare: notifications from airlines, from low-fare information aggregators, and from online travel agents. You should be on the mailing lists for all three.

The first place to find a cheap flight is in an airline’s email newsletter or sales alerts.  By keeping an eye on your inbox, you’ll be among the first to learn about planned sales, straight from the source. Examples include Alaska Airlines’ Black Friday sale and Delta’s seasonal, route-specific deals, which come in the off-season.

But there’s a way to find out about sales even earlier than in airline notifications. Airlines load sale fares into their reservation system hours before their email marketing team can send out email notifications. The time gap means those who have access to or who are savvy enough to notice fare drops in airline reservation systems can often have the upper hand.

There are many airfare information aggregators out there who do this searching for you. Two of the most popular are Scott’s Cheap Flights and The Flight Deal. So, it makes sense to sign up for their free newsletters.

Finally, online travel agents (like Expedia and Orbitz, also known as OTAs) also send out emails about deals. If you prefer to buy your airfare, hotel and car together, these OTAs can provide discounts on your overall travel package. OTAs include promotional discount codes within many of their promotional emails..

If you really want to make the most of these notifications, you can analyze them to create a price trend in Excel or on paper. The work can be cumbersome, but understanding the cyclical nature of airfare pricing on a destination you want to go to can help you buy tickets at the lowest price.

Either way, this is the simplest step you can take to find cheap airfares. Just sign up and let the deals roll into your inbox.

3. Listen to the Experts

There are tons of consumer and travel experts who spend their days keeping track of travel deals. Some of them you see on TV all the time. Others write columns in newspapers or are avid travel bloggers.

Whether you’re looking for  cheap airfare, hotels or rental cars, these advocates are on the ball when it comes to tracking deals. Even better, airlines may tip them off to sales in advance.

You can find these experts in the newspaper, on their blogs or on social media. Follow a few to start. Then keep track of their accuracy and coverage areas before settling on your favorite expert (or two).

4. Automate Price Monitoring

Instead of checking the airlines’ websites to see if prices drop, many travel search engines offer price monitoring.

One of the most well known in this category is Google Flights. Google Flights is a great tool that allows you to search through most of the available seats on the market. In addition, you can use it to track pricing.

Within every search result is a set of tools that you can use to judge whether the price is reasonable. You can look at different dates, a price graph, or even neighboring airports to judge price competitiveness.

Even better, you can immediately toggle a switch to ask the tool to monitor the same trip for a lower price. Google will continually look for price drops, plot the change on a graph, and send you emails to let you know about the price changes.

Another great tool to use is Kayak’s “Our Advice” box. When you search for a flight on Kayak, Kayak provides an immediate recommendation on the results page saying whether you should buy the ticket right now or wait for the price to drop, based on Kayak’s analysis of historical pricing.

You can also track price changes and receive emails alerts from Kayak, just as you can in Google Flights.

If you’re more app oriented, there are a number of travel booking apps that will help you accomplish the same thing. Consider Hopper, Skyscanner and Hipmunk.

5. Consider Nearby Airports

If you’re lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area with two or three airports close together, you can take advantage of neighboring airports.

For example, in New York City, you can fly in and out of JFK, LaGuardia or Newark Liberty. In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can pick from airports in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. These are just a couple of examples.

Driving a few miles out of your way could score you a significantly cheaper ticket.

6. Peruse the Forums

Online travel forums such as FlyerTalk are where avid travelers hang out. As such, they’re a great place to find advice on cheap airfares — in particular, mistake fares and deep discount fares.

Here’s what you need to know about mistake fares: An airline’s revenue management team sets fares and loads them into the reservation system. Since this is sometimes a manual process, mistakes can easily be made.

Imagine what a deal you would snag if an airline employee forgets to type a zero and puts in a fare of $100 instead of $1,000. Travel forums are full of price hounds that keep up on this information

You’re probably thinking that mistake fares are too good to be true. Yes, they can be. There are recent examples of airlines cancelling mistake fare tickets and issuing refunds. If that’s the case, you’re out of luck.

A better type of fare to stumble into is a deep discount fare during the off-season. You might think these sorts of fares would be to tropical destinations during monsoon season, blistering cold cities in the dead of winter, and other undesirable destinations.

In fact, many of these deep discount fares occur right at the beginning or end of the busy season. When airlines are striving to keep seats filled, they may run a sale to bridge the busy and shoulder seasons. Forum members are often the first to spot these fares.

7. Buy at the Right Time in Advance

One of the most definitive studies on when to book is an airfare study from Cheapoair.com.

It found that your best time to book a plane ticket could range from 47 to 90 days from departure, depending on the season when you’re flying and your destination. Cheapoair conducts this study annually, so check it every once in a while to get the latest information.

8. Use Frequent Flyer Miles

Miles and points abound. You’ll need to sign up for airline frequent flyer programs (for free), but you can also earn miles through hotel loyalty programs and through credit cards.

Credit card sign-up bonuses alone can net you tens of thousands of miles. But be sure to only charge what you can pay off immediately. Travel credit cards have higher-than-average interest rates, so if you run a balance on a regular basis you can easily pay more than the points bonuses are worth.

9. Skimp On Expectations and Fly a Budget Airline

If you’re going on a short jaunt or don’t need to pack much for your trip, a budget airline may be your best bet. In the U.S., Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant are known as Ultra Low Cost Carriers, or ULCC’s. Their no-frills model helps you get where you’re going for cheap on a bare bones flight.

Many of these flights go to smaller, lower demand airports or have very thin frequencies, meaning your choice of flights (and options if you miss your flight) are limited.

And beware that everything you might expect to get for free on a regular airline comes with a fee on a ULCC. That includes not only checked baggage, but also carry-on luggage, seat assignments and even a boarding pass print-out. Add too many for-fee services and you’ll erase any price savings you’ve gotten by flying a ULCC.

But, if you can keep the add-ons to a minimum and keep your expectations in check, flying a ULCC could be a big money saver.

10. Use the Best Flight Search Engines

You would think that every search engine would fight to display the lowest price. But that’s not the case. Each OTA and search engine has a different commission and fee structure. In some cases, they pass some of their costs along to you, but in others they don’t.

The search engine with the best airfare for a particular flight will be your airline’s website. It shows the best available pricing data.

But if you’re looking for the best overall data (i.e. price and schedules across all available airlines), you’ll want to look at aggregate flight search engines. These are sites like Kayak and Skyscanner. They take all available pricing and scheduling data and show you what’s available in the entire marketplace.

However, there are some countries, routes, and airlines around the world that do things differently. For example, in Asia, many folks still rely on Travel Agents (TAs). Airlines give TAs more sales incentives, such as exclusive fares and kickbacks, to push tickets. But that is a pretty rare exception.

If you’re planning an international trip, do some research to see what the preferred method of booking airline tickets is in that country.

One Myth About Finding Cheap Flights: Incognito Browser Mode

One of the most shared tips about finding cheap airfares is to use your browser’s incognito mode to search for airfare. That opens a private window where the airline can’t access your cookies to see what you searched for previously. The myth holds that if the airlines know you’ve been checking on prices for a particular flight, they’ll know you’re more interested and will therefore raise prices for you.

This is absolutely baloney. There has been no definitive data to prove that airlines are using your airfare search data to jack up your airfares.

What’s more likely is that while you’re futzing around with incognito mode, someone else has bought a cheap ticket for the same flight or one that involves a connection using your flight. So, delaying your purchase could actually cost you more.

The bottom line is, there are many ways to successfully score a cheap airline ticket. But beware of bad advice along the way.

Have you scored a great airfare deal using one of these tips?

Tally Review: Pay Off Debt Faster

If you have multiple credit cards and a mountain of debt to deal with, trying to sort through the mess can be a real nightmare. Just keeping track of due dates, minimum payment amounts and interest rates is hard enough.

And, assuming you’ve got enough money to pay more than the minimum payments, you need to prioritize which cards to throw extra money at first.

Tally is a new service that promises to untangle the mess. It’s a debt consolidation app that lets you apply for a line of credit and access a couple of tools intended to help you pay off your credit card debt faster.

Let’s take a closer look.

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Summary

Tally is a debt consolidation app that lets you apply for a line of credit and tools intended to help you pay off your credit card debt faster.

How it Works

Once you download the Tally app, you input all of your credit card information. You’ll then be guided through an application for the Tally line of credit. If you’re approved for a lower interest rate than your cards currently carry, Tally will then use that line of credit to pay down your credit card balances. You’ll also get access to the two tools: the Automated Debt Manager and the Credit Card Manager.

The line of credit is how Tally makes its money.  The interest you pay for the line of credit covers the cost of the service and it’s offerings.

Automated Debt Manager

The Automated Debt Manager is a digital assistant that takes into account your credit card balances and your spending data. It gives you a single recommendation on how much to pay toward all of your credit cards each month to be debt free in approximately two years, although the time frame is adjustable by you (more on this in a bit).

Factored into that recommendation is how much you’ve been spending on your cards that month. Often, people paying off debt are told to stop using their credit cards. If you can do that, fantastic. But Tally doesn’t assume that you will cut up your cards, reasoning that it’s often not realistic.

Another feature of the Automated Debt Manager is that you can accelerate your progress toward your debt payoff goal at any time by changing your time horizon with a slider. In other words, if you’ve got a month when you’re flush with cash, you can pay more toward the balance. The more you pay, the faster your debt is paid off.

You can also see how much faster you’ll get to your goal by paying, say, an extra $50 every month. The tool is intended to keep you engaged with your goal and motivated to put everything you can toward it.

Credit Card Manager

The second service is the Credit Card Manager. This service helps to automate your monthly bill pay process. Using the recommendation from the Automated Debt Manager, Tally will allocate payments to your credit cards accordingly. Then it will make the portioned payments to your credit card companies on your behalf.

That means you only have to make one payment each month — to Tally — rather than having to keep up with multiple credit card due dates and payments. It’s simpler.

In fact, we recommend it. Tally offers “Late Payment Protection,” in which the company will refund any payments received late by the creditor if you allow Tally to pay it on your behalf.

Keep in mind though, that this part of the Credit Card Manager service is optional. If you prefer to make bill payments yourself, you can choose to use “You Pay” instead, which allows you to make the bill payments on your own. Late Payment Protection does not apply in this case.

A word about how Tally allocates your payments. You may have heard of two popular strategies for paying down multiple debts. With the debt snowball method, you pay off the smallest balances first so you get some quick wins that help motivate you.

With the debt avalanche method, you pay off the card with the highest interest rate first, then the next highest, and so on. You also still pay toward the other card balances the whole time, but only the minimum payments.

Tally’s debt payoff strategy uses the debt avalanche method. Over time, it will save you more money on interest payments than the debt snowball method will.

Tally Line of Credit

The Tally Line of Credit is the heart of Tally. A line of credit is different from a personal loan.

With a personal loan, you’re given a precise amount of money, a predetermined interest rate, and a repayment schedule over a set amount of time. Once the funds are given to you, your repayment schedule starts.

A “revolving” line of credit is a bit different. You have a set amount of money you can pull from at all times, called your line of credit. You can use $1 or $1,000, so long as you’re under the credit limit given to you. You can then spend it, pay it back, and spend it again, which is what makes the line of credit “revolving.”

In the case of Tally, you can’t directly spend that line of credit. Instead, Tally uses it to pay off your credit card bills.

Tally says that as long as you have a FICO score of at least 660, it can offer you a line of credit at between 7.9% and 19.9%. That can be a lower interest rate than what many popular credit cards offer to their most qualified customers today.

Your usage of the line of credit will ebb and flow as the algorithm calculates how much or how little to pay on each card and which ones to move to the line of credit. It also takes into consideration any promotional interest rates you have.

In some cases, Tally cannot offer a lower interest rate on their line of credit than what you have on your credit cards. In that case, you can’t use the service.

My Experience Using Tally

Getting signed up for Tally takes a bit of a leap of faith. Especially for those who are familiar with financial lending products.

The interface is slick, but almost too slick. You’re walked through some introduction screens about the app, then prompted to enter your credit card information. Although you can supposedly bypass typing in that information by scanning your credit cards, the feature never worked. I had to enter my card info manually.

I was then asked to hand over my online banking login credentials. Thankfully, Tally uses a third-party financial systems integration platform called “Plaid.” The service is a go-between, shuttling data from your bank account to Tally without ever handing Tally your login credentials.

Tally then tries to connect to all your accounts. Unfortunately, a few of the account connections failed, despite my having entered valid login credentials. Luckily, you can skip any that fail and add those cards later on.

Next, Tally tries to qualify you for their line of credit. This is where I ended up getting stuck because the instructions didn’t spell out that they would only be doing a “soft pull” on my credit, rather than a “hard pull.”

Hard pulls are something to be aware of when you’re trying to guard your credit. Whenever you apply for new credit (e.g., a credit card or auto loan), the lender will request a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. That’s called a hard pull, and too many of them can lower your credit score.

Fortunately, Tally uses a “soft pull.” A soft pull occurs when a company asks for information about your credit, but it isn’t a part of a new credit application. Because of that, it doesn’t affect your credit score.

However, Tally doesn’t tell you that they’re going to do a soft pull until after you’ve entered all of your credit card info, banking account credentials, birthday, and phone number. I had to stop midway because I thought Tally was going to do a hard pull, which I definitely didn’t want.

I took a leap of faith and continued through the process until I finally reached an explainer page saying that they would only be conducting a soft pull. Tally could do a better job conveying this information earlier in the process.

After a few seconds of consideration, I was told that Tally could not save me money. There were no further details, but I’m assuming that the interest rate I qualified for on their line of credit was higher than my credit  card interest rates.

Without the line of credit, there is no Tally product at this point that you can use. Tally says it is working on allowing users to access the Automated Debt Manager and Credit Card Manager without the line of credit, but it couldn’t say when.

Bottom Line

While I never got a chance to try out the Automated Debt Manager or Credit Card Manager features, I was able to take a glimpse into Tally’s business model and onboarding process.

The value proposition that Tally offers is very intriguing. And for those who qualify for a Tally line of credit, there’s no reason to doubt that you could save interest costs by better managing your credit card debt through strategic payments and balance shifting.

Too bad I couldn’t take advantage of it, personally speaking.

Have you had experience with credit card debt consolidation? Tell us about it on our social media channels!

17 Best Vacation Rental Sites

Accommodations are often the most expensive part of a vacation budget. One way to cut that bill is to stay in a vacation rental rather than a hotel. Vacation rentals are houses, apartments, or rooms in homes that you can rent by the night, or sometimes even weeks or months at a time. Some resorts also list accommodations on vacation rental sites.

Vacation rentals have grown in popularity not only because they’re often cheaper, but because they offer a different experience. Many people find that staying in someone’s home provides a peek into the local culture they couldn’t get at a hotel.

Airbnb is the most well-known vacation rental website. But there are others, too, many of them owned by Expedia and TripAdvisor. Here’s what you need to know to ditch the traditional hotel and instead try a more home-like vacation.

Top Vacation Rental Sites

Once you have the basics of a vacation rental sorted out, it’s important to pick a platform that makes sense for you. Every vacation rental platform is different and caters to a specific crowd. Using the right site or platform can yield some amazing finds.

Here’s our list of the 17 top vacation rental sites.

1. Booking.com

Priceline’s entry into the vacation home rental market comes in the form of Booking.com Apartments and Booking.com Vacation Rentals. Booking.com may not be the first site that comes to mind when you think of vacation rentals, but it now features 5 million homes and apartment listings (i.e timeshare, service apartments, etc). That makes it the largest platform for vacation rental listings.

You can find listings at either of the specialty URLs above, or simply go to Booking.com and filter for apartments or vacation rentals.

2. Airbnb

The Airbnb name has become nearly synonymous with vacation rentals. The site lists apartments, homes, condos, rooms for rent, you name it! It even lets you book activities and experiences.

The company has a critical mass of both renters and listers. It has 4 million listings worldwide in 191 countries. And, it boasts 33.9 million active users.

3. Expedia and its Family of Sites

The competitor to TripAdvisor is Expedia and its family of vacation rental companies. These include Homeaway, VRBO, Homelidays, and VacationRentals.com. In total, this portfolio of sites holds over 1 million property listings in 190 countries. You can access these properties through the Expedia Vacation Rentals site. But let’s also take a closer look at the sites it owns:

4. Homeaway

HomeAway has more than 2 million unique places to stay. It started in 2006 as a general home vacation marketplace. After years of growth, the company was eventually purchased by Expedia in 2015. Today, the vacation rental juggernaut is one of the top competitors in the vacation rental marketplace.

5. VRBO

The acronym stands for Vacation Rental By Owner and it’s a powerful name in the vacation rental industry. VRBO has more than 2 million listings, focusing on entire homes and apartments. The site has been around for ages, having been founded in 1996.

6. Homelidays

The French side of vacation rental homes, Homelidays specializes in rentals across Europe. The site boasts over 95,000 rental listings around the world.

7. Stayz

Stayz is the Australian arm of HomeAway. It says it has over 40,000 holiday rentals in 2,000 unique Australian locations.

8. Bookabach

Bookabach is the New Zealand arm of HomeAway. It lists 11,500 holiday rentals in over 1,000 unique New Zealand locations.

9. TopRural

TopRural is the Spanish portal of HomeAway. Boasting almost 10,000 vacation rental listings, the site focuses on rural rentals in Spain.

10. TripAdvisor and Its Family of Sites

While many users may be familiar with TripAdvisor for its hotel and attraction reviews, not many know of its entire family of websites. Many of them are vacation rental sites, including FlipKey, HolidayLettings and HouseTrip.

Collectively, TripAdvisor Rentals includes 830,000 properties in 190 countries and averages 390 million unique monthly visitors, according to the website. You could access the main TripAdvisor rental website, but let’s take a deeper dive into its specialty sites.

11. FlipKey

FlipKey has 300,000 properties around the world, but some are only bookable directly with the owner offline. The site gets 19 million visitors per month.

12. HolidayLettings

Focused on UK and European rentals, HolidayLettings boasts 600,000 privately owned cottages, villas and apartments in 150+ countries worldwide.

13. HouseTrip

Similar to Holiday Lettings, HouseTrip features 130,000 active European vacation home listings. Today, the site’s language indicates a focus on European rentals, but you can access the entire database of TripAdvisor properties here.

14. Couchsurfing

Moving outside the realms of Expedia and TripAdvisor, Couchsurfing provides a twist on vacation rental sites in that the situations listed are free! The site connects travelers with hosts who have a free couch to let others crash on. Sometimes you even get your own room. Many fans of Couchsurfing like the idea that they get to build relationships with locals and see how they live.

You’ll have to pay a $60 lifetime verification fee to join the platform. But the site has over 15 million users and 400,000 active hosts, so you’re sure to find somewhere you want to stay, as long as you don’t mind sharing your space.

15. Home Exchange

Home Exchange is a platform that allows you to exchange your home for someone else’s in another part of the country or the world. Rather than paying to stay in these homes, you do a straight-up home swap. Home Exchange lists more than 65,000 rentals in 150 countries.

To join the site, you will have to pay $150 a year, though.

16. Wimdu

Founded in Berlin, Germany, Wimdu is a global vacation rental platform with 350,000 property listings in 150 countries. Think of it as the European version of Airbnb. You get worldwide listings from a European rental broker.

17. Innclusive

Innclusive aims to eliminate bias that can keep some visitors from being approved by other vacation home sites. The founder says he created the site after he was discriminated against as an Airbnb renter because he was black. He devised policies for Innclusive that discourage discrimination.

For instance, hosts can only see the photo and name of the renter after the booking is confirmed. And 99.9% of the properties are booked instantly, meaning the host is not allowed to approve the visitor other than on the basis of the property’s availability.

Not much is known about the size of its listings database.

Vacation Rental Basics

There are two types of vacation rentals on the market. You can rent a whole home or rent a room in someone’s home.

If you’re renting a home outright, you’re getting a unique experience. Whether it’s with a group of friends or a large family, you can have the space to get everyone under one roof. These homes could be condos, cottages, apartments, or single family houses.

If you choose to rent a room inside someone’s home, you’ll typically be staying with a host. The benefit of that is you can get great insights, suggestions, and travel advice on how to visit like a local. Of course, expertise varies. But more often than not, you’re getting a jump start on understanding the local culture from a live-in host.

Understanding the difference between these two options will help you to figure out what type of vacation rental will suit you best.

Tips on finding the best vacation rentals

How do you go about finding the best vacation rental for your needs? We’ve got some expert tips to keep your vacation on track.

1. Nail down what kind of accommodation and amenities you want

It’s easy to focus too much on the location and not enough on the rental itself. Forgetting about the accommodation details leaves way too much to chance.

How many bedrooms does the rental have? How many bathrooms? Is there a communal space? What about other amenities, like a hot tub? If you’re cooking, is there a stove, oven and cookware?

Some amenities like a large living room may be found more commonly in a single family house. But if you don’t need them, an apartment or a condo could be a better fit.

Have a big family? Make sure everyone wants to stay in one house. If not, consider reserving a couple of rentals near each other and shuttling folks between the two. Or, if you’re at a resort, ask about adjoining rooms.

Visiting an extremely hot or cold area? Make sure there’s an air conditioner or heater that’s sufficient for your needs. You’d be surprised what some properties don’t include.

2. Gut Check

With millions of vacation rental listings worldwide, there are bound to be some fakes out there. While spotting a scam is getting more difficult, there are some red flags.

Does the host want to conduct rental business outside of the rental platform? Is the landlord asking for an unusual payment method? Does something seem “off” about the rental?

Trust your gut. At the very least, consider doing a tour of the property via Google Maps Street View.

Check out the reviews — the more reviews a rental location has, the better. Make sure the rental platform has a guarantee to help you out in case of a fraudulent listing.

3. Where is Management?

If you’re renting a vacation home for a trip away, the last thing you want to hassle with is a broken air conditioner or a stuck door.

It’s important to find out what your options are and who to contact if you have problems. Some properties are professionally managed. Others are meticulously cared for by their owners. Both situations have their pros and cons.

Does the management company have a 24/7 emergency hotline? Is the individual homeowner easy to reach?

If you’re at a resort type location, is there a front desk? Does that agent have the authority to make decisions to help correct a problem?

Also, make sure the rental representative is reachable the way you want to reach them. If you want to reach them by text but they only communicate by email, that will be another hassle you won’t want to deal with on vacation.

4. Is the Rental Legal or Allowed?

In some circumstances, the vacation rental you’re eyeing may not be above-board. For example, many homeowners’ associations or city ordinances these days prohibit short-term rentals.

It’s easy enough to check city ordinances online, but harder to get to the truth about HOA rules. Are you going to call the homeowners’ association before renting? How would you even know if the property were part of an HOA?

In this regard, you’re taking a chance on vacation home rentals. One line of defense is to stick to well-known rental sites, but that’s not always a guarantee.

And even if renting a vacation home is legal in that particular community, there may be extreme restrictions in place. Just look at the big stink happening in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Vacation home renters there can be fined $1,000 for parking too many vehicles in and around the property. Or they can be fined for using the home’s hot tub at the wrong time of the day.

Many owners think they won’t get caught for listing an illegal rental. And renters are none the wiser. But the reality is that once the owners are caught, so are the renters. And you don’t want to be the one holding the bag.

Bottom line, renter beware.

5. Review the Contract

Review, review, review. The rental contract tells you everything you need to know about the property. And it covers your obligations and the obligations of the landlord. Read it backwards and forwards so you are fully aware of what you’re getting into.

Pay special attention to the check-in and check-out process. Determine who is responsible for the cleaning, wear and tear, and other unforeseen damages.

Ensure that you understand what is off limits to you, what you’re responsible for doing (like taking out the trash), and other rules of the rental.

The last thing you want to deal with is a “gotcha” on vacation.

6. Have a Backup Plan

The most important part of renting a vacation rental is to have a backup. Imagine if one of the items above happened to you and your vacation home became uninhabitable. On vacation, you don’t want to be sitting on the curb scrambling for a last-minute hotel room.

Have a Plan B and a Plan C ready to go.

Find out what sorts of guarantees and assistance the rental platform will give you in the event of an issue. Separately, see where the closest hotel is to your rental property.

There are horror stories circulating about bed bugs, broken plumbing, and unsafe accommodations. Make sure you have an immediate out by having a backup plan at the ready.

Summary

Whether it’s a house, condo, apartment, or cottage, renting a vacation home can lead to a once in a lifetime experience. Not only are you staying in a unique setting, the location could lend itself to more impactful cultural experiences than you would have staying in a regular hotel.

Just remember to follow the steps above to protect yourself from unscrupulous landlords and take the time to research the best places to find a vacation rental.

Have you had a great experience with a vacation rental home?  Or a really bad one?  Tell us about it on our social media accounts.

23 Best Jobs for People Who Love to Travel

For many, the thirst to be a wanderlust is real. Whether it’s traveling to a sunny Caribbean beach, touring historic towns in Europe, or hop scotching across America, many people would rather be “there” than home.

For these rabid travelers, there’s good news! You can work and travel at the same time. There are many jobs that let you work while traveling, travel while working, or work away from the office while traveling for leisure.

Here’s our picks of the 23 best jobs for people that love to travel.

1. Airline Pilot

People choose to become airline pilots for many reasons. Some love flying, others want to visit different locales every day.

Scheduled commercial and cargo airline pilots can be sent anywhere in the world. Depending on the pilot scheduling system, their schedule bring them home at the end of the day or put them in a two day layover elsewhere.

At some airlines, pilots can bid for their favorite schedules based on seniority. At other airlines, it’s randomly assigned. Either way, not knowing where you’ll be that day or later that month is quite exhilarating.

For charter airline pilots, the assignment can be even more exotic. Charter pilots never have the same flying schedule. A customer may require a flight to Asia, then another customer may require the same plane to fly a European route.

Salary for airline pilots can vary wildly. But the average salary for airline pilots is $113,709, according to Glassdoor.

If you’re looking for a way to check out cities around the world while working, being an airline pilot is the best way to do it. Just keep in mind that years of training to become a pilot stands between you and the left seat in the cockpit.

2. Flight Attendant

Much like airline pilots, flight attendants enjoy the same sort of globetrotting lifestyle as their colleagues in the cockpit.

Most commercial flight attendants follow three types of scheduling systems:

  • Based on seniority (Preferential Bid System)
  • Bid on an already strung together group of shifts (line bidding)
  • Random assignment without choice

Flight attendants could end up on multi-day itineraries with one or two-day layovers in exotic destinations. Or they could be set up with an out-and-back schedule that has them back in their own bed at the end of the day.

A layover means an opportunity to check out an exotic locale while the airline pays for your hotel. Although, you’ll have to work the flights to and from.

Both flight attendants and pilots are entitled to flight benefits. They can fly anywhere they want during their off-time, as long as there’s a seat available.

Flight attendants also enjoy a relatively high salary. According to Salary.com, the median annual flight attendant salary is $73,507, as of July 31, 2018.

Just remember that becoming a flight attendant is a selective process. For example, of the 150,000 people that applied to be a flight attendant at Delta Airlines in 2016, only 1% were actually selected to go on. That’s a worse acceptance rate than the Harvard class of 2021, according to Business Insider.

To get started as flight attendant, be sure to check an airline’s website for open recruiting season.

3. Travel Nurse

A subset of the nursing industry you may not be familiar with are traveling nurses. These nurses work on temporary contracts to ease nursing shortages and stick around for a few weeks or a few months at each hospital.

Staffing or travel agencies may offer housing or travel reimbursements. But the big allure is that traveling nurses get to pick where they go next and it may be a spontaneous decision.

Currently, 31 states participate in a Nurse Licensure Compact. The NLC allows nurses who reside in a participating state to be able to practice as a nurse in another participating state. This makes being a traveling nurse within these states much easier, as a nurses’ license is much more portable.

Travel nurses make $78,120 a year on average, according to Glassdoor.com. Quite a handsome salary for being able to work and travel at the same time.

To become a travel nurse, you should look for placement/employment agencies. These agencies may offer benefits to travel nurses that you would expect with full-time permanent nurses, such as 401(k) and health benefits.

4. Management Consultant

Friends and family members who work for companies like McKinsey & Company and Accenture, they are likely consultants. While their expertise may differ, they’re likely working for a client in a distant town to solve a business problem.

A common schedule among consultants is a Sunday evening or Monday morning departure to the Client’s city. They’ll spend the next few days and nights there and then fly home on a Thursday evening.

They’ll continue doing this for as long as the client needs them. When the contract is concluded, they’ll spend time in the office until dispatched to another client’s project.

Due to the extensive flying involved in many projects, many consultants earn elite status in airline and hotel programs. That means when it comes time to travel for vacation, they enjoy the perks of their work.

However, the downside is the extensive travel to a destination that’s not of your own choosing. But you want to be on the go and have a knack for solving business problems, becoming a consultant may be a dream job.

The average pay for management consultants is about $75,000, according to Glassdoor. But large annual bonuses are typical in this industry.

To become a consultant, many of these consulting firms look to hire candidates straight out of a university program.  Or, candidates are coming into the industry with extensive, senior level industry experience. Check out these consulting firm’s career websites for more information on how to get started.

5. Tour Guide/Tour Leader

If you’re knowledgeable about culture, history, architecture, or landmarks, you may do well as a Tour Guide or, more specifically, Tour Leader. As a tour leader, you can lead sightseeing tours of countries, cities, cultural treasures, and more.

“There are jobs touring the general sights of countries, sailing the Nile in a dhow, guiding safaris, mountain biking, doing European cultural tours, riding horses, carrying out conservation work, driving overland trucks, walking and leading family trips,” says Wanderlust.

They also cite that while some leaders only work during peak season, many do it as a full time job.

“You will learn a lot about yourself and develop your interpersonal and leadership skills in ordinary and extraordinary situations,” says Nick Nikolsky, a full-time tour leader, told Wanderlust.

Of course, there is naturally a downside to this. You’re following a fixed itinerary set forth by the tour company, although this could change from tour to tour. You’re also living out of a backpack, which could be a pro or a con, depending on your disposition.

In addition, the average pay for tour leaders is $12.16 an hour, according to payscales.com. So relying on tips is a must in this occupation.

If you have leadership and interpersonal skills, this may be the job for you. Check out the websites for independent travel tour companies to see if they have openings available.

6. Civil Servant

Working for the government may not seem like a well-traveled job, but it can be. You could be stationed elsewhere domestically or internationally.

The most common civil service jobs that involves travel is working within the U.S. State Department. Specifically as a career diplomat or embassy staff . You’ll be relocated into embassies that have a need for your skill. And you may be reassigned to remote locations.

But there are other jobs in all levels of government that require travel. Like an Economic Development Director for a city, public relations for a federal agency, and even law enforcement jobs (like with the IRS or FBI).

Just remember that you will likely need to take a competency-based exam, like a civil service exam, in order to be considered. In particular, with the federal government, the pay is known up front, and your potential for advancement and future raises is well documented in publicized pay scales/pay grade.

A civil service job is a career path that is well documented, transparent, and laid out up front. If you like the reassurance of that and you have the experience to qualify, a civil service job may be right for you. Check out usajobs.gov for more information.

7. International Aid Worker/NGO

Working as an international aid worker or for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) can be very fulfilling. If you have a sense of purpose, social justice, and compassion, it can be a very satisfying job.

You may imagine International Aid Workers feeding the poor, counseling refugees, and providing medical care. But working in the field is so much more than that.

NGO‘s can be found everywhere, even in industrialized countries. They all have various roles in improving the lives of the communities they serve. Including providing microfinancing or teaching children.

In other words, being an international aid worker doesn’t mean you have to be off-the-grid in the middle of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To get started working as an International Aid Worker or for an NGO, check out organizations that do work in your area of interest. Then inquire about careers and jobs with them.

Pay can range wildly. Humanitarian aid program directors can stand to make at least $52,000 to start, says internationalrelationsedu.org.

If you’re not sold on being an Aid Worker as a permanent job, many NGO’s offer temporary or contract positions. Or you could also volunteer as a service project.

8. Peace Corps

If want to serve communities in a structured environment, working in the Peace Corps might be a good fit.

Run by the U.S. Government, this volunteer organization has over 7,000 volunteers currently in the program. They’re responsible for partnering “…with communities abroad to develop sustainable solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges by sharing America’s most precious resource—its people,” says the Peace Corps.

They do this by carrying out “…people-to-people public service and citizen diplomacy at the grassroots level.”

In the Peace Corp, you’ll train for three months and then serve two years in the country of assignment. The most common placement for volunteers is in Africa, with 46% of volunteer force located there in 2017. You’ll receive a living allowance, along with medical and dental care.

The most common job for volunteers involves education and in health.

To find out if being a volunteer in the Peace Corps is right for you, visit peacecorps.gov. Just remember that you need to be a U.S. Citizen over the age of 18 to apply.

9. English Teacher

A popular job for those in their 20’s is to become an English Teacher in a foreign country. The most notable need for these teachers is in countries where both the written alphabet and spoken words are not rooted in Germanic language, such as South Korean, Japan, China, and other Asian countries.

For English as a Second Language (ESL) students, they strive to learn English to advance their career, broaden their horizons, and possibly travel or work internationally. As an English Teacher, you’re providing their communication lifeline and the opportunity for upward mobility through language education.

English teachers abroad often work through placement agencies, who provide salary and sometimes housing and other assistance.

The average pay for English teachers abroad vary wildly. In Japan, the pay is about $1,700 to $5,000 a month, according to gooverseas.com. One teacher even documented her journey to making $100,000 a year teaching overseas.

One thing to note, English teachers in foreign countries are foreign workers and subject to visa restrictions set forth by those countries. There have been reports of placement agencies and schools taking advantage of English teachers who are unfamiliar with local laws and customs.

Be sure to conduct comprehensive research before accepting a contract to work as an English teacher abroad. Once you conduct due diligence, you may find that being an English teacher to non-English speaking students to be one of the most rewarding experiences in your lifetime.

10. Field Service Technician

If you’re a tradesman, being a field service technician may be a good career move if you want to travel for work. Ever industry relies on machines and components to function properly in order for workers to do their job. Think about generators for electrical utilities, cell phone towers for cellular service providers, and others.

All of these jobs require service technicians to go into the field to work on these machines. We’re not talking about fixing refrigerators in your own town. But rather, machines that are installed hundreds of miles from the nearest town.

When those machines go down, Field Service Technicians go to work. On their own or as a team, they drive to wherever they’re needed.

They setup their own work site, figure out how to fix the problem, and then report back to the home office. They may stay on the road for days or weeks at a time, visiting distant client offices or rural equipment installations.

These technicians never know where they’ll be, but they know they’ll be touring around their assigned territory to ensure that their company’s machines are always working.

The average pay for field service technicians is $47,000, according to Glassdoor. To get started, check out companies that make equipment for the industry you’re interested in. Then investigate how those machines are serviced.

11. Professional Yacht Crew

From Captain to Deckhand, Engineer to anything else in between, professional yacht crew members have a mission.  They must ensure a yacht is always functional, ready, and mechanically sound on a moment’s notice.

Their clients, the yacht owner, is most likely very discerning. Whether for work or play, the owner want the very best crew for their big investment.

Professional yacht crew live on the yacht itself. Each member of the crew has an essential function, but they must work together to keep the yacht in tip-top shape.  A Chief Stewart is in charge of guest care and staff, a Captain is responsible for steering the yacht, and an Engineer is responsible for all on-board systems.

Some people may think of working on a yacht as an extended vacation. It is, most definitely, not. However, most all of your living expenses are taken care of while working on a yacht. You are provided housing, a uniform, and anything you could need by the owner. Your salary goes straight into your bank account.

According to crewfinder.com, assistant engineers can make $42,000-$72,000 a year, a chef can make $36,000-$55,000 a year, while a Captain can make a whopping $65,000-$200,000 a year!

If you’d like to be considered for a job on a yacht crew, be sure to check out various yacht crew employment agency websites for more information.

12. Cruise Ship Staff

If being on a small yacht isn’t your thing, but you want to be on a boat, working on a cruise ship may be a more interesting job for you. There are hundreds of positions to fill on a cruise ship. The more obvious ones include captain, engineer, social director, and chef. But there’s hundreds more that many don’t think of.

Modern cruise ships are basically floating cities. Every function you can imagine in a city is contained on a boat. But every job is oriented to making a customer’s vacation pleasant and enjoyable.

Some of the most interesting jobs include expedition leader, medical staff, and entertainer. The latter often being featured on documentaries about cruise ships, as these entertainers must be at the top of their performance game while also putting on a show while a ship is rocking back and forth.

Cruise ship staff members typically sign contracts to work on a ship for a set duration of time. You’ll be provided housing, food, health care, and a salary.

If you’re interested in working on a cruise ship, be sure to check out the cruise line websites for career prospects.

13. Au Pairs

Being an Au Pair is a job of trust. Families are relying on you to help raise their children.  You’ll run errands involving the children (i.e. picking up kids from school) and attend to the child’s need.

One night, you may be tasked with helping the child with their homework. On another night, you may spend hours playing with the children. No two days are the same, as the position is multifaceted.

But being an Au Pair is different from being a Nanny in one very fundamental way. Au Pairs are often from another country.

Au Pairs live with the host family, learning about their culture and language. In exchange for the lodging, food, and the experience, the Au Pair provides childcare and associated services.

Au Pair’s stipends typically average just under $200 a week, or $800 a month, according to Glassdoor.

It’s often a leap of faith to become an Au Pair, as you’re also putting your trust in the host family. Many Au Pairs use a placement agency, which requires interviews, references, and screening.

Au Pairs must also obtain a visa or satisfy any other entry requirements to be in that country, which is normally disclosed by the placement agency.

If you’re interested in becoming an Au Pair, visit any one of the numerous recruiting agency websites.

14. Teacher (of any kind)

If you have a knack for teaching others a skill, you may be able to be a teacher and travel at the same time. Teachers are always in demand. You can be a yoga teacher, a computer programming teacher, a ski instructor or anything in between.

Your skills are in demand somewhere in the world and oftentimes schools have term-limited contracts to fill. Either during peak seasons or as an ongoing need throughout the year. You can hop around to different schools in different locations teaching what you love.

And if you can’t find a school that offers a position in a field you are an expert in, you could set up your own class. As an entrepreneur, you could rent out a yoga studio to teach your own yoga classes, for example. Or you could teach the teacher, providing training services to those who teach other students.

At the most basic, you could also be a substitute teacher for a K-12 school. The assignments change daily, and you’re often paid a substantial daily rate, sometimes $100 a day or more.

Salaries can vary wildly as a traveling teacher and the subject field you’re in. The best thing to do is to first identify a need in your field and then go from there. Some teach jobs require certification, so be sure to see if you need to pursue additional certificates before being a traveling teacher.

15. Bartending

Wherever you go in the world, there’s a neighborhood bar to keep the locals happy. Every one of those bars requires a skilled bartender to recommend drinks, serve customers, and build a robust beer, wine, and cocktails list.

But being a service industry job, bartending jobs are often high turnover jobs. Chances are, if you’re skilled at bartending, you’ll be able to snag a job anywhere you go.

Furthermore, elite bartenders (mixologists) often compete in cocktail making competitions, making them very desirable in major metropolitan cities. These mixologists can command a salary premium working behind the bar. But they can also make great money consulting for bars as well.

According to jobshadow.com, a mixologist can make $200-$400 a shift. As a consultant, they could earn $100-$500 a recipe.

Either way, bartenders rely on tips to keep their occupation sustainable. Tips in the hundreds of dollars are not unheard of during every shift.

To become a bartender, you’ll need to study up on drinks. You may be able to get a foot in the door by becoming a barback first. As with any job, you’ll need to work your way up and demonstrate to the bar owner that you have the chops to interact with his or her customers.

16. Busking/Street Performer

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who make a living busking around the world. Whether they’re performing a musical instrument or putting on another type of performance for the crowd, busking can be lucrative for those who can put on a unique show or demonstrate unsurpassed talent.

For performers, busking also gives them a chance to either break into the industry or try out new projects. And It also allows them to hone their craft and build a following.

According to Mentalfloss, many celebrities first got their start busking. Including, Rod Stewart, Tracy Chapman, Robbin Williams, and B.B. King.

While salaries vary wildly for buskers, Time magazine interviewed one successful busker who made $21.22 an hour.

This occupation isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, dedication, and time dedicated to honing your craft. But if you build a following and catch a good opportunity, the upside potential is very high.

17. Freelance Graphic/Website Designer

If there’s a most obvious occupation that could be completely location-independent, it’s freelance graphic and website designers.

The work is one part creative and one part analytical. But the only thing you need to get the job done is a laptop, software, and an internet connection. As long as you can market yourself and find new clients, you can complete the work anywhere you want.

Freelance graphic and website designers need to stay abreast of software and design developments in the industry. That means constant re-training and re-familiarization with new software. And being a freelancer, you’re also responsible for health care, taxes, and the like.

On the flip side, you could take your job to a low-cost country, raking in pay at the rate of a higher-wage country. Your clients will never know the difference if you’re at home or on a beach in the Caribbean.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for these kids of freelancers is about $56,000-$60,000 a year.

If you’d like to become a freelance graphic or website designer, it’s useful to have some experience working at an office-based design job or design agency first. Once you’ve got the foundational skills down pat, you’ll need to learn how to strike out on your own and build up clientele.

There are many books and resources available on how to become a freelancer. Many freelancers also write about their experience online through their own personal blog.

18. Truck Driver

Many Americans tend to ignore the logistics of how items get to a store for purchase. It normally involves truck drivers as the essential link between a distribution warehouse and the local store, bringing products to customers in need.

In fact, according to Time magazine, “…80% of U.S. communities depend on truck drivers for the delivery of everyday goods.”

Truck drivers traverse America and sometimes across land borders into Canada and Mexico as well as well. They could be carrying products for sale, chemicals for transport, postal mail, or anything else you could think of.

The arrangement between the truck driver and its employer can vary wildly. Some truck drivers are sub-contracted, meaning they use a company’s truck to deliver the company’s goods. Others are owner-operators, which means they own and operate their own truck, picking up assignments and contracts along the way.

Whatever the arrangement, being a truck driver puts you on the road for hours and days at a time. While you are away from your family, you get to see all of America and maybe more.

The average salary in 2015 for a truck driver that works for a private fleet is $73,000 a year, according to CNN Money.

To become a truck driver, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate licenses to drive a truck. You’ll also need to attend truck driving school. Given the shortage of truck drivers in America, some trucking companies offer guaranteed schedules or high base pay to get you in the door.

If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, be sure to check out job posting for companies that run their own fleet and also trucking businesses for openings.

19. Railroad Worker

While this is a pretty broad label, railroad workers can travel along the tracks to complete their jobs. Some work on the track itself, others work on the trains.

Occupations in the railroad industry include conductors, yardmasters, locomotive engineers, switch operators, and yard engineers. Every one of these jobs is essential to ensure that goods and passengers flow across our vast nationwide network of railroads.

Whatever the job, rail aficionados will be well served to consider a job in the railroad industry. The median pay for railroad workers is $59,780 and there are about 105,500 Americans working in the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To become a railroad worker, you’ll need to have a high school diploma to start. To work on the locomotive, you’ll often start with on-the-job training.

As a yardmaster, there are training programs to attend. Rail yard engineers have a combination of on-the-job training and training programs to attend. And there’s also a certification for engineers from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Jobs can be found by visiting the major railroad company websites.

20. Be a “Rental Foreigner” in China

Renting a foreigner is a phenomenon in China that shows no signs of letting up. Chinese companies often hire White or foreign looking individuals to stand in as a pretend CEO or other important figure to lend credibility.

This could be a mainland Chinese company looking to gain traction on the international stage or a local real estate development looking to woo new buyers into their community.

From an outsider’s perspective, it could be seen as a deceitful occupation. But for Chinese businesses, it’s business as usual. Especially in a country where creating a fantasy world of pomp-and-circumstance is important.

CNN interviewed a few of these actors. One pretended to be an “architect from New York…giv[ing] design plans for a new museum to local officials.”

Another actor “was paid 2,000 yuan (about $300) to fly, along with a couple of Russian models, to a small city in the central province of Henan where he delivered a speech for the grand opening ceremony of a jewelry store there.”

Bottom line, being a foreign actor in China is a good way to make some extra cash while learning all about a new country. If you can put aside your moral scruples, then the work may also prove to be interesting as well.

21. Roadies

Often the invisible hands behind a concert, roadies have the job of working with famous bands to make sure their tours go off without a hitch. As the band visits city after city, roadies are responsible for moving equipment, setting up musical instruments, and anything in between.

Jobs include sound engineering, stage hands, lighting technicians, and more. But more likely than not, you’ll start out your roadie career moving equipment; the bottom of the roadie totem pole.

You’ll need the appropriate skills to work each job as a roadie. Especially when it comes to technical positions like sound engineer.

Pay can vary wildly. According to careersinmusic.com, roadies can expect to be paid $80 to $400 a show. According to a 2015 Wall Street Journal story, roadies average $57,000 a year, with some cases making up to $200,000 a year for larger name celebrities.

If you’d like to be a roadie, be prepared for a long ride. You’ll need to start with smaller, no-name bands and then work your way up by networking. Check out sites like Careers in Music for more information.

22. Travel Videographer/Photographer

Being a traveling creative professional can be lucrative. Especially when that job involves being a videographer or photographer focused on the world of travel. If your job is to document the art of traveling, you must travel to do the work.

A travel videographer or photographer should not be confused with a traveling videographer or traveling photographer. Being able to transport yourself to a shoot is not a unique skillset. However, appropriately capturing the beauty of a locale is a unique skill.

Jobs in this area can vary wildly. You could work for production company that’s responsible for producing a show about traveling. Or you could actually be hired by a tourism agency to be a capture their country in the best light. Or you could take photos and videos while traveling and sell them to various outlets for money.

Whatever the deal is, having a good creative eye is essential in a job like this. You’ll never know where you’ll end up, but you need to make sure you capture that locale in the best light.

Finding a job as at travel videographer or photographer is not for the faint of heart. You may want to build up a portfolio of work to show to potential clients. Or, you may want to work at a travel marketing or tourism agency first to develop contacts in the industry while honing your skills on the side.

23. Athletic Scout

How did the most famous sports players become famous? By having their talent recognized by a scout.

Athletic scouts travel the country year-round to find the newest talent playing in the field or on the court. It takes a keen eye, sharp intuition, and a good understanding of sports and player performance stats to be a good scout.

Of course, all of this traveling means you’ll be watching hundreds of local sports games. Which means a lot of sitting for the traveling and game watching portion of the job. But you’ll be handsomely rewarded for doing so.

The average salary of a professional sports scout is $56,681 a year, according to payscale.com.

To become an athletic scout, it takes one party skill and one-part luck. You’ll need to start with a college degree and have extensive experience playing sports yourself, along with proper certifications.

Then, you’ll need to find a job as a part-time talent scouter. Sometimes, that means working independently or with a team. You’ll cultivate a relationship with the team itself and build trust with them that you can identify good potential talent.

Next, you’ll need to build your contact list as you travel. Coaches want to trust that a scout has a good eye and great reach within a pool of talent.

No matter which of these jobs you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll get to travel as a part of your job.  That means you’ll get to see the country or the world while getting paid.  Some jobs involve much more labor than others, but either way, you won’t be stuck in a dimly lit cubical farm again!

Have you performed one of these jobs before?  Share your experience below in the comments so others can learn more about your cool job!

17 Cheap Places to Travel

These days, it’s hard to ignore all of your friend’s Instagram photos from far-flung destinations. Who wouldn’t want to see the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Buckingham Palace? The problem is, all of these places are exceedingly expensive to visit.

If you’re looking for cheap vacation ideas, there are many lists out there to look at. Some self-made, some that are well researched. But there’s only one comprehensive, qualitative, and well-researched list to follow, The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017.

Published by the World Economic Forum, the report gives an overall score for each country and individual category score on virtues like tourism prioritization, health and hygiene, and safety and security.

We took a look at their category on price competitiveness, filtering out for countries which the US State Department has issued a level 4 “Do Not Travel” or level 3 “Reconsider Travel” (for terrorism only) travel advisory. We also removed countries that have overly restrictive or discriminatory entry-exit visa requirements.

Here is our ultimate list of the 17 cheapest places to travel in the world.

1. Egypt

The pyramids are the first thing that come to mind for most Americans when they think of Egypt. But the country is so much more than that. From Cairo to Giza, Luxor to Alexandria, Egypt possesses tons of cultural treasures from centuries past.

Some ideas to ponder include: sailing the Nile River on a cruise, checking out the culture in modern day Cairo, taking a camel ride or exploring the great pyramids in Giza.

In fact, there are numerous ruins to explore, like the Abu Simbel Temple Complex, the Temple of Karnak, and the Temple of Hathor at Dendera; all top-rated attractions on TripAdvisor.

Tourism is a leading source of income for Egypt and one that is growing substantially as well. In 2017, 8 million tourists visited Egypt. That’s up 2.74 million from the year prior, according to The Telegraph.

All those tourists mean lots of competition for your money. You can expect to spend $10-$30 for a reasonable hotel room, with a sit-down dinner for two averaging approximately $6, says Lonely Planet.

One place that you may not be able to save much money is on airfare.  A typical air ticket costs $1,000 or more round trip from the US to Cairo.

One thing to keep in mind, Egypt has some areas that the US State Department recommends avoiding.  Including the Sinai Peninsula and the Western Desert, due to terrorism. You should also avoid the border zones due to military action.

If you’re enticed by the thought of visiting a historically significant country, like Egypt, pack your bags.

2. Malaysia

Malaysia sits at an interesting tourism crossroads in southeast Asia. It was the ninth most visited country in the world in 2010, according to the UNWTO. But it’s also a country which caters to tourists mostly hailing from other Asian countries.

You may recognize their iconic sights, like the Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves, and Malacca City. The latter, in particular, holds a lot of history and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The port city that went through a lot of changes throughout history, including various occupations. International traders brought their cultural influences from around the world and made Malacca City what it is today.

It’s just one of many stories within Malaysia. A country with endless places to explore that traverse historical to modern times.

If visiting Malaysia is on your list, it’s pretty easy to get there. Various airlines will take you there with a one-stop connection for $1,200-$2,000 round trip.

According to Lonely Planet, you can expect to spend $25 to $100 a night for a mid-range hotel, with a two course meal costing about $10.

3. Algeria

If you’re interested in exploring more of Africa, why not visit the largest country on the continent? Like the previous three countries on the list, Algeria is home to a myriad of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the bustling city of Algiers.

Originally part of the Ottoman Empire, Algiers is chalk full of long standing churches, cathedrals, historical sites, and architecturally varied buildings.

Visitors rank the Basilique Notre-Dame d’Afrique, Martyrs’ Memorial, and the Jardin d’Essai du Hamma botanical gardens as some of the highest rated places to visit, according to TripAdvisor and Google.

The one hitch is that you’ll go through a bear of a time trying to get a visa to Algeria. As a tourist, you’ll always need to have an invitation from a travel agent, tour operator or a local contact, according to Lonely Planet.

There’s a myriad of other requirements to note. But remember that you cannot get a visa on arrival. So, this is one destination in which you want to plan ahead.

Once you’re there, Lonely Planet also advises that you budget $75-$120 a day for hotels, meals, and transportation.

Tip: Use our Vacation Budget Form to plan for your vacation!

Just don’t forget to try a kabab and mint tea while you’re there!

4. Indonesia

Located in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is an archipelago of well over 10,000 islands and is the 4th most populous country in the world.

You can hear over three dozen languages spoken across 300 different ethnic groups. In fact, the over 87% of Indonesians identify as Muslim, meaning that Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Culture and nature take center stage here. With the beautiful beaches of Bali, rocky volcanic landscapes, and Islamic and colonial heritage, you’ll never run out of cool things to see or learn about.

Visiting Indonesia is so much more than just seeing Jakarta and Bali. But you’ll at least want to hit Jakarta first, as it’s the major transit point for flights to and from Indonesia.

Multiple one-stop flights abound from the US, priced between $1,000-$1,200 round trip. Once in Indonesia, it’s super easy to get around domestically using one of the cheap, low cost air carriers.

Lonely Planet says this country is a steal to visit. Budget travelers should anticipate spending about $36 a day on a room, meals, and transportation. Average travelers could spend that on the low end of the range but should anticipate budgeting $144 a day on the high end of the range.

Although the Indonesian government offers a myriad of ways to obtain a visa, its restrictions can be byzantine.  Be sure to read up on the latest requirements before going.

Either way, Lonely Planet says that you can spend a lot of time exploring this beautiful country.  Just remember your visa expiration date when you go for a visit!

5. Bhutan

Sandwiched between India and Tibet, Bhutan is not a country that world travelers often think of visiting. But if you skip it, you’re sure to miss out on what CNN calls “the true meaning of cultural authenticity.”

Living in isolation until just a few decades ago, Bhutan is situated on the Silk Road.  It owes its cultural identity to its main religion, Buddhism. The country also has stunning natural beauty, ranging from its lush plains to its tallest mountains. Its Himalayan peaks can reach in excess of 23,000 feet.

Given its past isolation, the country is widely considered one of the least developed countries in Asia. Internet and television was introduced in 1999 and the government actively looks to curb erosion of Bhutanese culture by outside influences.

For most visitors, the only way to visit the country is to book a travel package through an authorized travel agent. That’s because the Tourism Council of Bhutan sets a minimum daily tariff for visitors (between $200-$250 a day) and requires that you purchase a tour package.

However, the all-inclusive nature of these packages could end up being a good value for travelers compared to piecemealing their travel arrangements when visiting other countries.

6. Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is another country on our list located on the Silk Road. Formerly a member of the USSR, it is the ninth largest country in the world by area and the largest landlocked country in the world. Its proximity to Asia, Europe, and Russia lends itself to a diverse ethnic population.

Almaty and Astana are its biggest cities, with the latter being the capital city. Astana is a gleaming, modern, well-kept city with futuristic architecture. It’s most remarkable building is the 150-meter-tall Khan Shatyr, which houses an indoor beach on its top floor.

Getting to this young country is surprisingly easy with its highly rated national airline, Air Astana. Although you cannot fly directly to Kazakhstan from the United States, one stop connections are easy for $1,500 to $2,000 round trip. US citizens can travel visa free for up to 30 days.

Expect to spend $25-$85 a day on lodging, food, and transportation, according to Lonely Planet.

7. Tunisia

This north African country is home to an eclectic mix of cities and sights. From its metropolitan capital of Tunis to the ancient ruins of Carthage, there’s much to see in this country.

Tunisia has a rich history, having control of the land pass from the Arabs, to the Ottoman empire, to the Spanish, and the French. The country declared its independence in 1956. Today, visitors can view the country’s past at sights like the Bardo Museum and the Medina of Tunis, the latter being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Flying to Tunis will set you back $1,200 to $1,800, with one to two stops along the way. You’ll most likely make a stop in Europe before getting there.

Lonely Planet suggests that you budget $25-75 a day for meals, lodging, and transportation.

8. India

Incredible India, as it’s Ministry of Tourism’s slogan proclaims, is a vast country. So big, in fact, that it is the seventh largest country by area and has the second largest population in the world.

Each state within India has an amazing number of things to see and do. Including delectable food, vibrant culture, and centuries old sights. Although the Taj Mahal is one of the country’s most iconic sights, you won’t want to miss its other landmarks and religious sites.

Such as the Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, Gateway of India in Mumbai, and the Golden Temple in Amrisar.

Getting to India is a cinch, as there are plenty of non-stop and one-stop options from the US to choose from ($700 to $1,200 round trip).  Once there, a plethora of low fare domestic airlines will take you where you need to go.

A budget of $44 to $133 for meals, lodging, and transportation should suffice, says Lonely Planet.

9. Qatar

Qatar is a country where modern life takes stage front and center. From daring new high-rise buildings to beautiful coast side views on the Arabian Peninsula, this country has benefited greatly from decades of revenue from natural gas and oil reserve.

Like many of the countries in the region, Qatar passed under the control of Bahraini and Saudi rule, the Ottoman empire, and British rule, until its independence in 1971.

Today, its capital city of Doha is a major cosmopolitan city. From its seven-kilometer waterfront to its traditional market, there’s much to see and do. Get outside of Doha and you can also see Al Zubarah Fort, a centuries old desert settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the 40-meter-deep Dahl Al Misfir Cave.

Getting to Qatar is easy, thanks it’s world class flag carrier, Qatar Airways. Flights from the US range from $850 to $1,850 round trip, depending on time of year.

The one area to pay attention to when you visit is your budget. Lonely Planet says a visit to Qatar will set you back a little bit more than the other destinations no our list. For food, lodging, and transportation, you should expect to pay $150-$250 a day.

10. Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked African country most well-known by travelers for it’s incredible and numerous wildlife. If there’s one thing to do here, it’s a safari.

The country has benefited greatly over the years from diamond mining and tourism. Focused on conservation, the country looks to offer high priced packages to reduce the overall number of tourists that visit. However, there are still many options for budget minded travelers.

Volunteer for service projects can be one way that to save a lot of money while traveling here. During your off time, you could visit the Okavango Delta or other game parks. Or if wildlife viewing isn’t your thing, you won’t want to miss Tsodilo Hills.  It’s home to the largest rock art collection on the continent.

Traveling to Botswana can be a trek. It’s a two or three stop journey from the US, with flights costing between $1,000-$3,000 round trip, depending on the time of year. The journey can take a full 24 hours or more.

Once there, you should budget between $75 to $150 a day for food, transportation, and lodging, according to Lonely Planet.

11. Laos (Or Lao PDR)

You may hear the country of Laos mentioned often in Southeast Asian politics, but many Americans may not think of it as a hot Asian tourism destination.

The landlocked country in Asia is home to wildlife, beautiful nature, and incredible cuisine. Known long ago as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol, it was then known as the center of trade for the region.

After a stint under French and Japanese control long ago, it is now an independent nation focused on building industry and its economy.

Tourism is playing an increasing role in that goal, with somewhere around 4 million people visiting the country each year. Visitors are treated with the sight of elephants at the Elephant Conservation center and natural wonders at Kuang Si Falls and Ban Sop Houn.

Visiting Laos will set you back just $700 to $1,200 round trip from the US, with one and two stop connections.

According to Lonely Planet, while you’re in Laos, you should expect to spend $50 to $150 a day for food, lodging, and transportation.

12. Mongolia

Home to a large community of nomads, Mongolia is a wonderland of vast landscapes and cultures for visitors to learn about. Sandwiched between Russia and China, it’s considered the most sparsely populated fully sovereign country in the world. Yet, it’s highly ranked by both Travel + Leisure and National Geographic magazines as a place you can’t miss visiting.

This country is home to many curious opposites. Luxury cars everywhere juxtaposed against a baron landscape. A bustling modern metropolis rising out of nothingness. “Like Lower Manhattan surrounded by South Dakota,” said Pico Iyer of Travel + Leisure magazine.

Whether it’s the Gobi Desert or other natural wonders that attract you, getting to Mongolia is tough. Expect to spend over 24 hours in the air with two to three stops along the way. However, flight prices will only set you back $800 to $1,200 round trip.

When you get there, expect to spend $50 to $140 a day on food, lodging, and transportation, according to Lonely Planet.

13. Guatemala

Rated one of the top 10 destinations in South America by TripAdvisor, Guatemala is country rich with history, multiculturalism, and art. It’s home to many Mayan archaeological sites, natural beauty, and historical cityscapes.

Whether it’s visiting the popular Tikal National Park, hiking Acatenango Volcano, or taking in the sights at Lake Atitlan, you can easily spend most of your vacation exploring the great outdoors. But cities like Guatemala City and Antigua are also home to museums that feature the country’s rich art, textile, and cultural history.

Getting to Guatamala is pretty easy, with non-stop and one stop flights in the $400 range round trip. Once you’re there, expect to spend $53-$134 a day in meals, lodging, and transportation, according to Lonely Planet.

Just be forewarned that the US State Department has issued a Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” advisory for the country.  They warn of rampant crime.

14. Thailand

A popular Asian tourist destination for visitors from the US, Thailand has much to offer with its vibrant culture, attractive beaches, and wonderful food. In fact, over a million Americans visited Thailand in 2017.

Whether you visit the capital of Bangkok, diving in Phuket, or laying on the beach in Ko Samui, you can really create any experience you want in Thailand. For serious foodies, Thailand’s extensive street food scene cannot be missed. And if you’re into viewing wildlife, the quintessential way to experience Thailand is through its well-known elephant trekking.

(A bonus tip, if you happen to arrive in Thailand during the Thai New Year, don’t forget to check out Chang Mai’s Songkran festival.)

Getting to Thailand is easy. It’s a one stop flight from the US, setting you back between $600 and $1,200 round trip. Once you’re in Thailand, expect to plunk down $31 to $124 a day for meals, lodging, and transportation, according to Lonely Planet.

15. Nepal

When most travelers imagine what Nepal is like, a mental image of hiking in the Himalayas and Mt. Everest most probably pops up. But Nepal is so much more. With its rich Buddhist and Hindu heritage, charming villages, and wildlife to boot.

The capital city of Katmandu dates back to at least 185 AD and currently hosts numerous and cultural festivals throughout the year. And although a major earthquake devastated historical portions of Katmandu in 2015, the city is still ranked as one of the top-rated destinations for travelers in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

Getting to Katmandu or Nepal will set you back $850 to $1,300 round trip, with a 19 to 25 hour one-stop journey to get there. Lonely Planet says to expect to spend $50 to $150 a day for meals, lodging, and transportation.

16. Sri Lanka

The south Asian country of Sri Lanka is located off the coast of India. It’s history dates back at least 125,000 years, with a rich cultural heritage rooted in Buddhism. Controlled by the British until 1948, tourism in modern day Sri Lanka is quickly growing thanks to its beaches, wildlife, and natural scenery.

One “can’t miss” sight is the Sigiriya, an ancient stone fortress that is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world. Travelers also shouldn’t miss out on seeing the awe inspiring national parks and Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo.

Getting to Sri Lanka will set you back about $1,000 to $1,300 round trip with at least one stop on the 24-hour long journey. When you arrive in Colombo, you should expect to budget $37 to $125 a day for lodging, food, and transportation, according to Lonely Planet.

17. Bahrain

An island located in the Persian Gulf, the Kingdom of Bahrain was the ancient site of the Dilmun civilization. Historically known for its fisheries, Bahrain is now known for its banking and tourism industries.

Manama, its capital city, is a classic example of modern times meets rich history. Within the same day, you can visit the Al-Fatih mosque, the Bahrain International Circuit for auto racing, and check out the camels at the Royal Camel Farm.

Reaching Bahrain takes about 18-20 hours with one stop from the US and can set you back between $1,000 to $1,600 round trip. Expect to shell out $140 to $200 a day for lodging, transportation, and meals, according to Lonely Planet.

Which of these is on the top of your list for your next trip?

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