Traveling can be expensive, and one of the most costly parts of any trip is the hotel. When planning, most people take hotel prices as unchangeable and cut other parts of their trip to stay within their budget.
Here are 15 tips to help you save money on hotels so you can have the trip of your dreams.
1. Be Flexible
The price of hotels can vary drastically, so being flexible on the date you want to visit is a great way to save money.
During holidays, special events, or peak times such as the summer hotels are more expensive. This is because these are high demand seasons, which causes prices to rise.
To avoid high prices, travel during low demand seasons and times.
To do this efficiently, you will need to have a flexible schedule and adjust according to hotel prices.
2. Choose Your Location Wisely
When choosing a hotel, select your location wisely. Hotels are more expensive if you stay near popular places or at the center of large cities.
To save money on hotels, try to stay away from common tourist locations. Rather, try staying on the outer ends of a city or even a few cities away from Downtown.
For example, if you are visiting the Taj Mahal, stay at a hotel farther away from the Taj Mahal.
You may also want to stay away from the city. It’s common for hotels near the center of the city to be 2x more expensive than hotels that are on the edge of the city.
3. Consider Alternate Lodging Options
Hostels are an extremely cheap alternative to staying in hotels. Although you give up some privacy and most amenities when staying in a hostel, you can save quite a bit of money.
For example, if you were staying in Tokyo Japan, the cheapest Hotel you could find would be around $50 per night, whereas you can get a dorm-style hostel for around $15 per night.
One of the benefits of booking hostels now is that it is so easy. There are several websites that make it very easy to book and find hostels around the world. Sites such as:
Airbnb is an excellent alternative to a hotel. They offer a variety of renting options that can come at a fraction of the price.
Also, when using Airbnb, you have the benefit of being able to negotiate the price a bit more yet still receive some of the basic amenities that come with a hotel.
Another alternative to spending money on a hotel is couch surfing. If you are a solo traveler looking to meet locals at your destination, this is a great option.
Couch surfing is 100% free and is a great way of making friends and meeting locals who can help navigate you around the city. I met some of my closest friends through Couchsurfing
For CouchSurfing, I recommend using couchsurfing.com. It’s is one of the best websites to find locations to couch surf across the world.
4. Try Different Hotel Booking Sites
Not all booking sites offer the same prices. When looking to book your hotel, always check two to three booking websites for the best price.
Hotels have different deals with each booking site, which may result in lower prices. Also, certain hotels are not listed on booking sites entirely, so to get a full view of available hotels, check multiple sites.
Some of the best hotel booking sites include:
5. Bundle Your Hotel
Another great way to save money on hotels is to bundle your travel cost together. Many booking websites such as Expedia and Kayak allow you to bundle services together.
This is a great way to save hundreds of dollars when planning your trip. You can bundle your flights, hotel rooms, and even a rental car. The more you bundle, the greater the savings.
There are times when I have found that the bundle was not cheaper but around the same price if all services were booked separately.
Make sure you review multiple sites to compare the bundle prices.
6. Join Membership Programs
Most booking sites offer membership programs that give you special deals and prices. These membership programs usually require you to sign up or meet a certain booking requirement to join the membership.
In either situation, most membership programs offer discounted prices and rewards programs that give you free upgrades or free bookings.
For example, Hotels.com offers a Membership Program that offers one free night for every ten free nights you book on their website. If you are apart of the Gold Membership, you get free room upgrades and price matches.
Booking.com also offers 10-15% discounts for members as well as free breakfast and free room upgrades.
7. Join Hotel Rewards Programs
Another option for saving money on hotels is to join hotel rewards programs. Most hotels, especially hotel chains, offer free rewards programs.
These reward programs allow you to accrue points each time you book with the Hotel or any subsidiaries. Often, the hotel also offers additional points for shopping at certain stores.
Once you accrue these rewards, you can use them to book rooms for free or at a discount. This is especially great if you book with the same hotel or hotel chain on each of your travels.
8. Get a Credit Card with Hotel Rewards
If you are looking to get cheaper hotel rooms and you typically book with one hotel chain, then a credit card is a great choice.
With a hotel rewards credit card, you will receive points towards hotel rooms on each purchase you make. This is great because you will earn points on every purchase you make, not only hotel-related purchases.
Before you sign-up for a hotel rewards program, make sure that you book with the hotel regularly.
It’s also important to do your research on the hotel’s different locations as well as how points transfer to rooms.
9. Get a Credit Card with Travel Points
Similar to Credit Card with Hotel rewards, most credit cards offer rewards points that you can convert and use at certain hotels.
Before you sign-up, make sure you do your research and determine what hotels are offered by your credit card’s reward program. The hotels that your credit card offers should ideally be those that you enjoy staying at.
It is also essential that you look into how points transfer into hotel rewards. This will help you determine which credit card is best for you.
One major benefit of signing up for a credit card is that you usually get a large sum of points just for signing up. This is a great way to book your first few hotels for free.
10. Book with the Hotel Directly
Another great way to save money on hotels is to book directly with a hotel. The most efficient way to do this is to simply walk-in or call by phone.
This technique works best for last-minute travel bookings since hotels are always looking to fill last-minute rooms.
When you call last minute, you will have more room to negotiate. Hotel managers are more willing to give you discounts on your stay or even upgrade your room for free when you talk with them.
If you are frequent to a hotel chain or a member of their rewards program, hotel managers are more willing to offer discounts and upgrades, so if you are always sure to mention it.
I always recommend that you do your research on the hotel’s rates before you call or walk-in. This will give you an idea of how good the deal they are offering is.
Also, don’t be afraid to call multiple hotels before you agree to one. This will give you multiple offers to choose from.
11. Book Last Minute
One great way to get unexpected deals on hotels is to book last-minute. When you book last-minute, hotels are looking to fill rooms and are more willing to offer discounts.
You can book last minute by calling directly or even simply walking in and requesting a discount. An excellent site for last-minute booking is Hotelstonight, which will give you a list of the best deals for same day and next day rooms in a hotel.
You can also try using traditional booking sites and searching for hotels on the same day or the next day. Often, sites such as Hotels.com will tell you the discount you will get by booking same-day hotel rooms.
12. Book In Advance
If you book in advance, you will have a wider selection of rooms and rates to choose from. Also by booking in advance, you won’t have to deal with up-charges during high demand seasons.
Before you book your hotel, always compare the prices in different months. This will give you a good idea of how early you need to book your hotel.
Also, many hotels will offer special discounts to people who want to book early. They use this method as a way of marketing and encouraging people to book their hotels early.
Most hotels offer a refund up to a week before your trip, so even if you book early, you are not stuck at the current rate. You can keep searching for cheaper tickets even as your trip approaches and cancel if you find one.
13. Set Price Alert For Your Hotel
Setting up price alerts on booking sites is a great way to keep an eye on the prices of hotels in your destination. Price alerts will send you the best prices of hotels in your destination without having to continue looking every day.
Often, when you do this, booking websites will offer additional discounts to encourage you to make a purchase.
I recommend you set a price alert on multiple booking sites. This will allow you to compare the prices and truly determine what the best deal is.
14. Look For Coupons and Discount Codes
Another great way to get discounts is to google search for any coupons or discount codes. This typically only works for online booking websites, but you may get lucky and find coupons for hotels directly.
To find these coupons, simply type in the booking website or hotel of your choice followed by “promo codes” or “discount codes.”
For example, when looking up “Hotels.com promo codes,” you can nearly always find discounts between 10% and 30%.
While writing this, Hotels.com was offering a 40% discount on all bookings, and Booking.com was offering a promo code for 50% off on select hotels.
15. Avoid Entertainment Packages
I highly recommend you avoid entertainment packages. Often, times these deals include additional amenities such as movies, shows, spa visits, and access to other events.
Unfortunately, the discounts offered by entertainment packages are often marginal and sometimes it is cheaper to buy access to everything individually.
Another downside of entertainment packages is that once you arrive, you feel obligated to attend events and amenities you would otherwise not. It’s best just to decide what you want once you arrive.
Hotels are expensive, and it often feels like there is little room to get lower prices. Don’t feel the need to cut other parts of your trip if you are over budget. First, try these 15 tips that will help you save money on hotels and plan the trip you’ve always wanted.