Need a Personal Stimulus Program? Travel!

Discount vacation bargains abound: Here are ideas and useful Web sites from experienced travelers.

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The banks have had their stress tests, and it looks like they'll get the relief the need. What about the rest of us? Haven't we been pretty stressed as well? The Boomerater Report, our weekly collaboration with online baby boomer resource Boomerater, explores some great online discount travel resources that will help you take that well-deserved break.

Q. I'm on a budget but still need to rejuvenate with time away from my everyday routine. Looking for affordable vacation ideas, good deals, discount Web sites, etc. Especially interested in southern states and the Atlantic coast, but if I find out about a great deal to Europe or the Caribbean, I'd go for it. Can you help me?

A. Cruises are a great deal right now. I live in Miami, so I don't have to fly to get to the ship. Tripology.com can help you find a great cruise, or any other kind of trip, at a great price. You choose the destination and the services you want. You can also define a special occasion and price range. Once you fill out the trip request, Tripology contacts travel specialists who have expertise in the type of trip you want (in my case, cruises). They each put together a customized itinerary and contact you with the options. Because they are competing for your business, they will work hard to come up with the best trip in your price range.

A. I'm a big fan of cruises because you know the cost for the whole trip upfront. Cruisecompete.com puts you in touch with a number of travel agents to price your particular cruise and Cruisecritic.com is another good site to find deals on cruises. It also offers extensive reviews of cruise ships and lots of reader reviews and other cruise-related articles.

A. To recharge my batteries, I like to take weekend trips to places I've never been. You get the best deals for weekend getaways if you can go on the spur of the moment. Lastminute.com lists hundreds of weekend trips to fabulous destinations at greatly reduced prices. Just click on the "Last Second Deals" icon. You can price the trips with flight, hotel and rental car or any combination. I recently got a great price for a flight and hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

A. The best way I know to save money without sacrificing on the quality of your vacation is to rent a villa instead of staying at expensive hotels. The price of a villa is often far less than even one room in a high-priced resort area. If you are traveling as a family or with friends, you can save even more by splitting the cost rather than booking more rooms. Plus you get space to entertain, a full kitchen so you save on meals, and laundry facilities.

A. We have rented homes with their own pools in Orlando (within 10 minutes of Disney World), a three-bedroom condo overlooking the ocean in Puerto Rico, a three-bedroom home in St. Thomas, a mansion with its own pool right on Clearwater Beach, and fabulous homes on Captiva and Sanibel Islands. The two sites I use are VRBO.com (vacation rental by owner) and Rentalo.com. This is also a fine solution for family reunions.

Boomerater is an online resource for baby boomers that offers local and national information, ranging from Arizona senior housing facilities to Chicago financial planners. Boomers can post questions and swap first-hand experiences. If there are questions on your mind that you would like answered by people who have faced similar situations, or you have advice of your own to share, go to Boomerater.com and participate in the forums. Say that The Best Life sent you.