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Taking a vacation is a great way to forget the real world, but oftentimes we forget about our budget and spend more than we anticipate. Sound familiar? You book your plane and your hotel, take the family away for a fantastic time, buy souvenirs, go out and get great food, and forget about the stress back home.
But then, when you get home, you see your credit card statement and realize you've overspent. Now you've got another headache. Paying off your credit card and recovering from the money you spent on your trip.
One such expense is your hotel, and often this can be one of the largest expenses, especially if you go away for several nights. In this article, we'll go over some of the best ways to save money on hotels so that you can more easily stick to your vacation budget and feel less overwhelmed when you see the bill at the end of your stay.
Let's jump right in.
Table of Contents
1. Create a Vacation Budget and Stick to It
To create a vacation budget, first determine how much you're willing to spend on your trip. Then, once you've figured out how much money you'll spend on vacation, consider what type of hotel you want to stay in, what you'll be doing on vacation, how much your family will spend on food, and what types of souvenirs you may buy while you're away.
For example, you might consider staying at a luxury hotel, or, if you don't plan on spending a lot of time in your room, you may book a budget hotel and spend money elsewhere. Are you bringing children with you? What types of places will they eat at, and what is the average cost of a meal? Will you be buying tickets to a theme park or an entertainment venue?
Thoroughly do research on where you're going to get an idea of how much you may end up spending on various parts of your vacation.
Once you've outlined your budget, take note of how much you plan on each category so that you can stick to your budget while you're away. Of course, you're going on vacation and might not want to track each individual item every day, but at least having a rough idea of what you've spent so far as the days go on will help you stay under budget.
2. Book Directly with the Hotel
Booking directly with a hotel can save you money as many hotels want to avoid paying commissions to online travel agency sites like Expedia, Travelocity, or Hotels.com. Because of this, many hotels will honor the lowest price you can find on the internet if you book with them directly. In addition, they may also throw in bonus extras such as a free night or gift card to use next time you come in.
Call the booking desk directly to speak to a human. When you speak to a human, ask when rates are the lowest. If your vacation time is flexible, consider going on vacation when you can get a lower rate.
By getting a good value through booking when the rate is lowest, you'll be able to allocate more money towards fun activities during your vacation. You can save up to 60% off the price per night at some hotels just by booking your next vacation when rates are low.
3. Join a Hotel Points Program
Joining a hotel points program with a hotel that you stay at frequently can have several benefits, depending on the hotel. Aside from potentially getting better room rates or free nights, here are some other special deals that may be extended to you:
- Room upgrades
- Free breakfast
- Free in-room beverages
- Hotel lounge access
- Upgraded internet access
- Increased point earnings per stay
- Rewards usable in many locations
- Special deals to reward members
- Reward levels for various budgets
The trick is to join a hotel points program in which you plan to use the same hotel chain for subsequent vacations. This way, you'll get the most use out of your points.
4. Use Extended-Stay Hotels
Extended-stay hotels often come with accommodations like a kitchen in your room, voicemail in your room, laundry machines, mail services, and high-speed internet. Since these hotels are generally used for long-term arrangements, you can generally pay less to stay a week or more.
Extended-stay hotels save on costs as they have fewer guests and spend less on cleaning and other labor costs. These savings are passed on to you, which is a great way to save money on your next hotel stay.
5. Use an App to Get the Best Rate
To find lower prices and other great deals on your next hotel stay, check out the following apps for your phone when you book.
- HotelTonight: This app finds empty hotel rooms in the city of your choice
- One Night: This app allows you to book last-minute rooms after 12 PM for same-day stays in certain cities.
Of course, you can also find apps from popular hotel chains such as Marriot, Hyatt, and Hilton.
6. Book During Off-Season
You'll get the lowest rates during off-season times. It's possible to save up to 60% or more when you travel when fewer people are in the area. A great way to find out when the off-season is for a particular hotel is to call their front desk and ask.
Once you've determined the savings, consider going on vacation during this time to maximize your savings. Not only will you save money on your hotel by doing this, but you'll cut down on the total cost of your vacation or have more money to do other things on your vacation.
7. Book On Lower Cost Days
The best day of the week to book a hotel stay is Friday or Saturday. Mondays through Wednesdays are often the most expensive days to book a hotel. When in doubt, wait until the end of the week before booking a hotel to save money.
Sundays are often the least expensive day to check into a hotel, especially business hotels.
8. Consider the Location
The location of the hotel you plan to stay at will affect the rate you pay. If you plan on renting a car or have transit you can use while you're on your vacation, consider staying in a less expensive town or area.
For example, if you're going to the beach, staying at a hotel that isn't directly on the beach will be more affordable. Likewise, if you're going to Disneyworld, staying at a hotel that's not on the property will cost less than staying at a Disney resort.
9. Bundle Your Hotel with Airfare and a Rental Car
You'll save money when you bundle your hotel with airfare and a rental car. Websites like Hotels.com, Expedia, and Travelocity are great places to find a package deal that works best for you.
Even though these websites generally have a better deal than when you book separately, it makes sense to also price out your stay by individually checking the prices of each your airfare, rental car, and hotel, as sometimes you can save more money by looking for discounts on each component of your vacation, rather than bundling them on the web.
10. Book an Alternative Option
Aside from hotels, there are other ways you can stay at your travel destination while saving money. Some options include:
- Hostels: Check out Hostels.com for more information on how you can save money when booking a hostel instead of a hotel.
- Airbnb: Oftentimes you can negotiate with the owner and save money. An Airbnb may also be more affordable than a hotel in the area.
- Vacation home rental: A vacation home rental might be the best deal around if you're traveling with your family or a large group.
Sometimes to get the best bang for your buck, the cheapest option is to simply not stay at a hotel.
11. Use a Hotel Credit Card
Hotel credit cards have rewards such as a free hotel stay. You may also earn bonus points when you use your hotel card at affiliated hotels.
A drawback to using a hotel credit card is that you may be more tempted to go into debt when you book your stay. Whenever getting a new credit card of any type, be sure to use it wisely.
12. Look for Free Amenities
Sometimes the best way to get good hotel rates is to consider what's being offered for free. You'll find that some hotels will offer one rate for the room, but then charge you for other things like parking or wifi.
Here are some amenities that are sometimes charged by some hotels and may be free by others.
- Complimentary breakfast
- Tea and coffee
- Free drinks
- Beach towels and chairs
- Travel adapters
- Kid activities
13. Negotiate the Rate
Many don't realize that they can often negotiate the price of the stay depending on your travel dates. In fact, during off-peak season, there's a good chance that you can save money by working out a deal with the hotel to pay less for your stay. Hotels need to fill their rooms and by talking to someone at the front desk, you may be able to save.
If you're a loyal member of the hotel and have stayed frequently, this tactic may work even better for you.
14. Avoid Hotels with Hidden Fees
Some hotels are known to have hidden fees. When you book with a hotel, check out the hotel's website to see they charge additional for specific things.
Here are some charges that some hotels add up to your final bill.
- Resort fee
- Extra-person fee
- Wi-fi fee
- Parking fee
- Early check-in / early check-out fees
- Pet fee
Save quite a bit of money by avoiding hotels that tack on these extra charges.
15. Search for Deals and Coupons
Additionally, you can find last-minute deals at your local tourism office, visitor centers, or city center in tourist locations. Some restaurants, diners, gas stations, rest areas, and local stores may also have brochures where you can find additional savings for local hotels and other fun activities to do in the area.
16. Use a WiFi Travel Router to Lower WiFi Fees
Some hotels will charge you for each device that you want to connect to their high-speed wi-fi. In this case, you can save money on your hotel wi-fi by bringing a wi-fi travel router. You will only have to pay to connect your wi-fi travel router and then you can connect all of your devices to your router. If you're paying nightly for high-speed wi-fi and you bring a family of four on vacation, each with their own device, this can save you quite a lot of money on a typical vacation. This makes wi-fi travel routers a good option for families with multiple devices.
17. Bring Your Own Beer
Skip the hotel bar and bring your own alcohol when you book a room. Enjoy a six-pack of beer or some wine while watching TV in your room versus going down to the hotel bar and paying a 400% to 500% markup.
Hotels commonly mark up alcohol by more than other typical industries because people will pay more money for drinks when they're on vacation. You can use this knowledge to your advantage by bringing your own alcohol, storing it in the in-room refrigerator, and enjoying it in the comfort of your hotel room.
Wrapping It Up
In this article, we discussed ways to save money on hotels so that you can spend less on your next vacation, or find more things to do with the same amount of money.
Remember to look for special rates whenever you book, and a flexible schedule may be one of the best ways to save.
If this article was helpful for you, check out this article on how to save money for your next vacation.
How do you save money when you book a hotel?