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Cheap summer travel: Get into the sharing economy

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Airport travelers
Travelers arrived to check-in for flights at O'Hare International Airport on December 20, 2013 in Chicago.
Scott Olson | Getty Images file

How can you ensure you and your family have a great vacation if you're on a tight budget? Two travel experts joined MPR News' Tom Crann and offered some advice for travelers willing to try the sharing economy or search for last-minute deals online.

Flights: Be flexible

Lansky and Banas recommend taking advantage of any flexibility in your schedule or plans. That could include a last-minute flight deal or being open to a destination based on the price. Sign up for fare alerts for your preferred destinations and search your preferred discount site. Many sites list deals on Mondays and Tuesday, Banas said.

Sleep: Think outside the hotel box

If you're willing to jump head-first into the sharing economy, you'll find plenty of options for ways to rent a room, apartment or full house from a stranger. This is a particularly good option for bigger groups to give yourself more space and a kitchen to cook in. They recommend browsing AirbnbHomeAway and FlipKey.

If you're more comfortable in a hotel, check out Booking.com or Late Rooms. Banas also suggested Tingo, which will refund you money if the hotel you're staying at drops their rates after you book. 

Food: Eat in a stranger's home

A number of sharing sites allow locals to open up their homes and host meals. Check out Meal SharingFeastlyEatwith.com

Transportation: Modern hitchhiking

Some sites offer a web-friendly way to find strangers also traveling the same direction. Sites mentioned: SidecarBlahBlahCarRelayRides.

Tours: Let the locals show you around

Vayable is a site where people can offer their tour skills and local knowledge to you in a variety of different experiences. Let a longtime resident show you their neighborhood architecture or the best views by bike.