All-inclusive vacations mostly attract families and people with a limited budget. Sites such as Airbnb , Vrbo, and HomeAway permit homeowners to put their own properties up for rent whenever they won’t be using it. This is a good way to experience life as a local, because you’ll be staying in a residential area instead of one that caters to tourists.

Another time, I traveled to Vienna, Austria for a week by booking a cheap vacation package — we stayed in a fancy 4-star hotel (they had a bowl of free mini-Toblerone chocolates in the lobby!) and got flights on a stellar foreign airline for about $500.

For one itinerary, a nonstop flight that the other sites offered was not available when booking a Hotwire package (though it was available when booking a separate flight on Hotwire), and the pricing on some searches was a little higher than on the …