Pack your bags, you're going on an affordable vacation

OK, so it's been one of those years. Jerry Bruckheimer's still not got around to reading your screenplay, your last single stalled at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100, and your boiler's broken down. With cash reserves low, the prospect of a vacation may seem like a forlorn dream. But there's no need to despair. From getaway cabins to cottage rentals, with a bit of planning you can find an awesome vacation to suit your budget. Whether you feel like heading for the hills, the big city, or the beach, you'll be able to enjoy some quality time away.

Have a change of pace with a vacation rental in a National Park

If it's the great outdoors you're yearning for, you'll be spoilt for choice. Time things right, and a trip to one of the great National Parks could be within your budget. Pick an affordable vacation rental close to one of these spectacular spots, and get back in touch with nature. Whether you're a couple looking for quality romantic time, a family with energetic kids to keep happy, or a solo traveler in search of solitude, you'll find the perfect location for a low-cost vacation.

Find an affordable vacation home near Zion National Park

We all know Las Vegas as a famous destination for seekers of inexpensive flights and accommodation, but instead of heading for the bright lights you could set your sat nav for the awesome scenery of not-too-distant Zion National Park. You'll find glorious vista points and dramatic rock formations, along with hiking trails and waterfalls. There are plenty of affordable accommodation options right on the Park's doorstep, from cute cabins to full houses. Visit in the winter months to avoid the crowds and bag a bargain.

Head for the Smokies with a vacation rental in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Families looking to head into the wild should consider a vacation rental in lively Gatlinburg. Known as the gateway to the Smoky Mountains National Park, you'll have endless walking trails and beauty spots to explore. Then, there are the attractions of the town, with its Space Needle observation tower, chair lifts, and mountain coaster. Find yourself a log cabin with mountain views, or tire the kids out by renting a condo with a pool. It's a destination that works all year round, too. If you feel like skiing, but find Aspen's beyond your budget, Gatlinburg is a far more realistic option.

Enjoy an affordable vacation in an excellent city

If you're longing for a fix of big city life, you'll find surprisingly affordable options in some exciting all-year-round locations. Stay off the beaten track and avoid the obvious money-sapping destinations, and you'll be able to enjoy all the perks of urban living at a fraction of the cost. Book a classy-but-affordable vacation rental in a central location, and hurl yourself into the heart of a vibrant city.

Take a Tex-Mex trip to laidback San Antonio

Lovers of all things Tex-Mex will go wild for San Antonio, with its famous cuisine and markets. Rent a city center apartment and step out into a city that was made for strolling. At its heart you'll find the San Antonio River Walk, a city park made up of a network of waterside paths lined with shops, eateries and artworks. Historic buildings abound in this relaxed Texan destination, so make sure you don't forget the Alamo. Good deals can be found all year round, but particularly in the winter months.

Let your hair down in Atlanta, Georgia

Well known as an airline hub, you can often find bargain prices on flights to Atlanta. Pick a downtown vacation apartment and find yourself surrounded by family-friendly attractions: there's Georgia Aquarium, as well as the Botanical Garden, and soda-lovers will go wild for the World of Coca-Cola museum. Boasting the country's biggest downtown park, and with plenty of free museums, a trip to Atlanta needn't have you digging too deep into your pockets. If you're visiting without small ones, this city has all kinds of options for night owls.

Hit the sand with an affordable beach vacation

So you want to feel the sand beneath your feet, but can't afford a five-star resort? You can stop crying right now, because a beach vacation is more affordable than you think. Shop around for a condo with a sea view, or a cozy bungalow with a veranda, and you'll be set for a trip filled with sun, sand and surf. So pack those flip-flops and sunglasses, and away you go.

Spot dolphins from the beaches of Pensacola, FL

Set on the Gulf of Mexico, and boasting an amenable climate all year round, Pensacola is a safe bet for a vacation that won't break the bank. Boasting a lively downtown, along with miles of nature-packed protected shoreline, this is a perfect spot for families in search of activities, or couples hoping for romantic sunset strolls. Rent a condo with a full kitchen, and you'll even be able to keep your food bills to a manageable minimum.

Bask in the Victorian splendor of Cape May, NJ

Established by the Victorians as a seaside resort, Cape May is filled with beautifully preserved examples of 19th-century architecture. With miles of pristine sandy beaches, you'll have ample opportunity to sunbathe like an old-fashioned movie star in this classy spot. And don't forget your bucket and shovel so you can build a sandcastle to inspire gasps of admiration from your fellow beachgoers. Even a vacation rental with an ocean view may cost less than you think.