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Onto part 2 from our saving money traveling series: hotels!
If you missed it, check out part 1 of the series on saving money on airfare.
Hotels can oftentimes run you more than the airfare, so it’s important to save every penny you can on your next hotel stay.
That could mean saving on your hotel stay itself, or how to save on your meals, internet, parking, and other things that can get tacked on and increase your bill.
Without further adieu, let’s jump on in!
1. Use cash-back extensions, apps, and websites
This is something I do every time I make a purchase online, not just for hotel stays.
There are apps out there that will scour the internet for you to find coupons, and others that have deals with websites to get you a percentage of cash back from your purchase. Why wouldn’t you do that??
There is almost no work required of you on this tip. I simply have an extension on my Chrome browser that notifies me of any cash-back or coupon opportunities.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Rakuten – my favorite cash-back extension. It sees that you are on a partner website and pops up with the cash-back opportunity right in your browser. Even better, if you do a Google search for whatever you need to buy, Rakuten adds a line to your search results to let you know wherever there is a cash-back opportunity. No work needed! If you use my link, you get a $10 bonus!
- Honey – this extension searches online for any coupons you might be able to use when making a purchase. I used to do this manually, and it would take me a while to find what I needed. Honey makes it simple and quick! Just today, I saved 40% on a purchase I made online just by using the Honey extension.
- RetailMeNot – this is similar to Honey, where it scours the internet to find coupons for you. I used to dig a lot on this website to find coupons (always search for promo codes before placing your online order!).
- TopCashBack – I have not tried this one before, but I will be in the future. It’s another way to make cash back on your online purchases. Every little bit counts!
2. Take advantage of last minute deals
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this when I made years of car trips from Texas to Florida and back! Before, I would start to scan big name booking websites when we started to get tired and needed to stop. Never knowing about the discounts you can get with this website!
The website is HotelTonight, and it can save you some cash on last minute deals.
Of course, you’ll be taking a gamble by using their service, since you don’t know what results you’ll get for your last minute booking. Say you need a hotel downtown for example. Depending on their availability, you may not score a room downtown, but could get one a few miles out instead.
But if you’re willing to gamble, you can save some cash using their service.
3. Call hotel directly to score a discount
This tip is mentioned all over the internet, but there’s a reason for that: it works!
You can exercise a lot of tactics by calling in.
First, you can see if they have a price matching guarantee. Oftentimes they do, and as an added incentive for booking directly through the hotel chain, you might get a few perks thrown in.
Second, you can bargain! I had no idea you could do that; I thought the rates were locked in! It doesn’t hurt to try. And hey, if you’re anxious just thinking about haggling, remember you’re doing it over the phone. It might take off some pressure (it does for me to not have to look at the person while haggling!).
Lastly, you can let them know if you are celebrating something, like an anniversary or birthday, and they might upgrade you for free! Now that would be an outstanding bargain, to pay for a standard room but get a suite!
4. Become a rewards member (for free) for the perks
I’ve done this one before, and I’m glad I did.
One of my stays, they wanted to charge an outrageous amount of money for daily wifi. Staying there for 5 days, it adds up really fast. Instead, I signed up for their rewards program with my email address, and voila! Free wifi for my stay.
At best, you get awesome, free perks. At its worst, you get some junk email.
5. Check vacation housing
I’m embarrassed to say I had little experience searching for vacation housing instead of a hotel.
I had no idea how inexpensive these options were! And not just that, but you can get a great location with several rooms and house/apartment amenities like a kitchen and washer/dryer. All included!
This is especially beneficial if you’re a family traveling and need several beds or a couple of rooms, or even if you are traveling with several people and can split the cost of one place.
Here are a few reputable and great websites to book your travel:
- AirBNB – chances are, you have at least heard about AirBNB. This service allows you to book one of the following using a filter in your search results: book the entire place, a private room, a hotel room (could also be a hostel), or a shared space (like a common room). You’ll have a variety of prices based on those filter options!
- Home Exchange – I had never heard of this one before, but you can get a heck of a deal with this service. For their yearly membership fee of $150, you get unlimited home exchanges. You’ll have to check out their website for the details of the service, but if you are planning on traveling more than once over the year, this is a great deal!
- VRBO – another service similar to AirBNB that can save you some money. Another perk: if you use the cash back options I mentioned in my previous post about how to book air travel cheaper, you can get cash back too! At the time of this post, I can get 4% cash back on VRBO.
6. Pick your travel dates and locations carefully
Depending on where you are traveling, there are a few things to check that can save you some money.
First, if you are traveling to a more popular tourist spot, you could save hundreds of dollars by booking off season. This means skipping out on major holidays like Christmas, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July. Or maybe going during the rainy season instead of the more popular dry season.
A second tip here is what time of the week you travel. If you are traveling near downtown or a business/convention center, the price of your hotel could be significantly higher than if you stay over the weekend instead.
7. Stay outside of the city center
This tip is similar to the previous tip, since many major business centers are located at city center.
If you have to travel to a major city, check on hotel rates just outside of city center. Many people want and need to stay at the hotels directly downtown for business, so if you are willing to walk a few extra blocks (or don’t mind taking public transit), the cost savings could be nice!
Of course, if you might need to take a cab at least once a day to get to your destination, you should probably look at the cost difference between staying outside city center and just booking near your destination area.
8. Book multiple nights for potential perks and discounts
I’ve taken advantage of this, and I love this tip. Especially if you are already planning on staying at your destination for multiple nights anyway! But let me elaborate on that point, because it sounds pretty obvious.
When we have taken trips to Disney World, we often talk to other people on vacation that spend a couple of days at a Disney resort, then hop over to enjoy other Orlando attractions. They’re staying in the same destination for several days, but hotel hopping in the meantime.
For this tip, it works best if you are staying in one room for your entire trip. I’ll use Disney World as my first example: while you are checking in at the front desk, you can opt out of housekeeping services. If you are staying for more than one night, you get a Disney gift card for opting out! The amount you get goes up the more nights you are staying.
Heck yeah for free Disney money!
You are still able to call housekeeping to ask for more towels and such, you just will be opting out of a housekeeper coming to your room to replace things and clean up.
Other perks for staying several nights have included free breakfasts, a free night’s stay, and free parking!
Plus, I don’t know about you, but another perk is just not picking up and moving to a different hotel. But that could be just me.
9. Check in late for potential perks
I have not personally tried this one, but you can bet I will next time I travel!
By checking in late, you could take advantage of last minute cancelations and potentially get upgraded to a better room! The hotel is more likely to sell someone a standard room than an upgraded room, so by taking the last minute cancelation and leaving your standard room open, they have potential to make more money too.
It’s one of those things where it really doesn’t hurt to ask.
10. And how to save some money on food, drink, and laundry at your hotel
Most, if not all hotels charge a ridiculous amount of money to eat and drink there. And more often than not, the food is not even that great!
To finish off my list of tips to help save on your next hotel stay, here are some tips to help offset the cost of food and other small, miscellaneous things that come with staying away from home.
- There are more uses for your coffeemaker than just making coffee! Use it to make boiled eggs, oatmeal, pasta, ramen, or other dishes that are typically made in boiling water. Many of these would cost you only a few dollars before you leave, and save you potentially hundreds of dollars on your three meals for the day!
- Use the room coffee cup to crack an egg, add some veggies and cheese, and pop in the microwave to make a frittata.
- If you’re going to be traveling a lot, there are travel-sized appliances you can purchase to bring with you. Think waffle maker, small slow cooker, and/or a hot plate. One fee up front for the appliance over your hotel stays could save you a significant amount of money.
- Instead of raiding the mini bar or going to the hotel bar, fill up your bathroom sink with ice (free, of course, from the hotel machine), and pick up some beer or wine to place in it.
- Need some laundry done? No sweat! Bring along some SinkSuds travel laundry detergent and your travel clothesline, and you’re saving yourself a ton in hotel laundromat costs! Not to mention, you don’t have to hang around in the laundromat while your clothes are washing and drying; you can sit back in your room and watch TV. Plus, if you need something dried faster, use the room hair dryer to dry it quicker.
There you have it!
Ten awesome tips to help you save some money on your next hotel stay. Have you tried any of these and saved a ton? Do you have any favorite tips on saving big on hotel stays? Share with us if you do!