I love hotels and am a firm believer that they can make or break a travel experience. But that doesn’t mean I always want to spend a lot of money at hotels, so here are some of my favorite tips to help save you money on your next hotel stay.
1. Booking – The best way to save money when staying at a hotel happens before you even leave home. Modern travel has never had so many options for eager consumers, but with those options comes a lot of confusion. Sometimes it seems that there may be too many choices. I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with a variety of ways to book a hotel room, and I’ve had a lot of luck with using hotel comparison sites. There are a lot of them out there and they do a great job of searching other search engines like Expedia and Orbitz to find the best discount out of all the discounts. Also be sure to sign up for hotel newsletters; many times they’ll announce special sales to their members before announcing to the rest of the world.
2. Be Flexible – If you want to spend more money than you have to, then you should be absolutely rigid in your travel dates. However, if you want to save a little money, have a broad range of acceptable travel dates in mind when you first start looking for hotels. I’m always surprised how much a hotel rate can change, even by just a few days. Recently I had to book a hotel room for a friend for one night. The hotel generously supplied on their website a calendar with room rates and the results were enlightening. Two days after my friend wanted to stay the rates doubled, but just for one day before crashing back to basement level prices. For someone who doesn’t work in the hotel industry, it was a stunning revelation to see how much travel alchemy was involved in what I always assumed to be a very straightforward process. So when it comes time to book your trip, experiment with different dates to find the best deal.
3. Location, location, location – Where you choose to stay on your trip can many times dictate the financial repercussions of the entire travel experience. Many experts say that where you stay is one area where it is smart to scrimp a little and save money, and they are correct. However, it is important to also look at the location when booking your hotel. It may be tempting to book a cheaper hotel on the outskirts of the city, but what little money you save in lodging you will lose in transportation costs, not to mention your time. Do not underestimate the value of your time. Most people don’t take long vacations; a week is the average. If it takes you thirty minutes each way to reach areas of interest, then that is a considerable waste of time and treasure. Instead, look for well-priced hotels in or very near the city center or where you want to spend your time exploring.
4. Ignore the minibar – There are many ways hotels try to nab a few extra nickels from our pockets, from those tempting bottles of water on the dresser (with the $5 price tag) to that great temptress the minibar. The minibar appeals to us as travelers because it’s fast and easy. We would love a Diet Coke and a candy bar and it’s so much easier just to grab one from the fridge than it is to walk down the block. But to save money, before you do anything you should locate the nearest convenience store. Whenever I travel locating the closest 7-11 is my number one priority and it’s usually a place I stop frequently to buy snacks, drinks and giant bottles of water. It’s not a chore to carry the purchases back to the hotel and it saves a lot of money.
5. Watch out for hidden fees – While the airlines have been getting all of the bad press related to fees, some hotels have been quietly inserting their own mysterious charges onto the bills of millions of unsuspecting travelers. Some of the most common are resort, housekeeping and Internet access fees and even though you may not be able to avoid these, a little research will help you chose hotels that don’t go ‘fee-crazy.’ When you find a few hotels you like, do some internet research and call the hotel directly to find out whether or not they have unusual and unnecessary fees such as housekeeping or breathing oxygen fees. Many times these fees can be substantial, turning what was originally a budget option into a financial nightmare.
What are some ways you save money at hotels?