I was fortunate to be featured recently in a Fox Business article giving advice about how to cut costs on hotel stays. Accommodation is generally one of the biggest expenses you face when traveling, so any steps you can take to keep the price down and avoid those pesky add-ons can make a huge difference to the final bill for your vacation.
I think the article had some really helpful advice, so click over to see what others and I had to say. If you’re still yearning for more, keep reading, because here are a few more of my tips and tricks for saving money on your hotel stay – both before you leave home and once you arrive at your hotel.
Finding & booking a hotel
1. If the price is comparable, make your booking directly with the hotel or hotel’s parent chain, rather than through a third party site such as Expedia or Travelocity. Booking on a third party site means you often won’t be eligible for certain promotions, including receiving points from the hotel’s frequent guest program. If you do happen to find a cheaper room rate elsewhere, try calling the hotel and mentioning it as they’ll usually match the price.
2. Speaking of frequent guest programs, paying for your room entirely in cash or entirely with points is usually not the best deal. What often works out much better value is using the hotel’s points plus pay option. As an example, rooms at the Westin Resort & Casino in Aruba start from $209/night. If you paid using points, it would cost you 10,000 points/night. But with points plus pay it would cost you only $60/night + 4,000 points/night, which is a huge saving. If you do the math, you’ll notice that you’re actually getting almost twice as much value for each point used compared to paying for your stay entirely in points.
3. Consider renting someone else’s apartment by the night. Airbnb.com is a useful site for this (although the company has gotten some bad press recently, the risks are clearly bigger for the host than for the traveler). You’ll usually end up with a lot more space for the same amount of money and it can work out particularly well for families who might otherwise have to book two hotel rooms.
4. Another accommodation option is staying in hostels, which have evolved tremendously since the old days when they were grimy hangouts for grubby backpackers. Many hostels now have private rooms for families and couples, and are clean and efficient. They’re also usually in excellent locations and have staff that is as helpful if not more so than a hotel concierge (especially if your needs revolve around renting a bike or finding the best cheap eats in town vs. trying to secure theater tickets or a reservation at an exclusive restaurant). Hostels are also a fantastic way to meet other people due to the abundance of common spaces.
Once you arrive
5. Pack a couple of sachets of laundry detergent into your luggage, as well as a rubber sink stopper and perhaps an inflatable clothes hangar. Then, if you need to wash something, you can spend three minutes laundering it in your bathroom sink, rather than forking out for the extremely high hotel laundry service.
6. Bring along an immersion heater. Many hotel rooms don’t supply an electric kettle to boil water, so if you carry your own immersion heater, you can use it to make a cup of coffee or tea. Read more about the usefulness of immersion heaters here.
7. If you’re at a hotel that doesn’t include breakfast in the price and all you want is a quick bowl of cereal in the morning, go the DIY route. Stop at a local grocery store and pick up some cereal and a small carton of milk. You can keep the milk in the mini-bar fridge and enjoy a cheap breakfast in the morning. If there isn’t a fridge in your room, ask if the hotel will provide you with one – oftentimes they’ll do this for free, however supply can be limited so if you really want one, it’s worth requesting it when you make your booking.
What do you think? Do you have any other tips for saving on hotel costs?