Finding cheap hotels and cheap accommodation is quintessential for budget travelers who are always looking to minimize their overall travel expenses. Why splash out so much money on accommodation when you'll be out exploring your travel destination most of the time anyway?
In this GET.com Guide To Finding Cheap Hotels, you'll find 8 useful tips that will help you shave some of your accommodation costs when you are on your well-deserved holiday. Cost savings on accommodation simply means you'll have more money to spend on glorious food and fun activities!
How To Find Cheap Hotels For Your Holiday
Utilize Hotel Comparison Sites
Image source: Travelocity
The Internet is a wondrous creation by humans, for humans. So, make full use of it! You never know how much you can save unless you put in the effort and time to search and compare between several different sites.
There are so many different sites online that you could utilize to find prices and special deals on hotel stays, as well as cheap airline tickets. Many of these sites are also really handy in helping users narrow down their choices according to their preferences, budgets, and even distance from the city core or airport.
Sites that you could look up hotel deals include Agoda, Expedia, Priceline.com, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Hotwire, CheapTickets, Kayak, Momondo, Orbitz, Travelocity and Trivago. Some deals online do not allow you to transfer, cancel or refund, so it'll definitely help for you to be extra cautious of the fine prints before booking and/or paying for your room!
Many of these sites give you better deals when you sign up for an account with them.
As an example, we checked Booking.com to compare hotel prices in Boston when you are signed in as a member and when you are not.
Notice the price difference seen in the two images above? Booking.com offers their signed-in users extra discounts in addition to letting you 'lock in' the prices and the flexibility to cancel without any charges so long as you do it before a specified date.
To up your game after you've sort of narrowed down your choice of hotels, go the extra mile and do yourself a favour by checking on the hotels' own website for promotional deals or seasonal offers.
Whether you are in the midst of planning for a short getaway or a wonderful month-long trip to a myriad of exotic destinations scattered across the globe, it is always nice (and sensible) to make an effort to keep your accommodation costs to a minimum and work those cost savings to your advantage!
But of course, it helps for you to first determine what your budget is and how much you are willing to allocate towards accommodation.
Be realistic - find what suits you best, what makes you most comfortable physically (mentally and emotionally, too) and remember to ask yourself how far you are willing to go to stretch the dollar.
For instance, if you're so used to staying in luxurious 5-star hotels, spending an entire week holed up in a no-frills hostel will likely prove to be too overwhelming for you.
Make Use Of Travel Review Sites
Image source: TripAdvisor
Not only will you be able to search for different types of accommodation in a jiffy on leading travel review site TripAdvisor, you can scrutinize the reviews to get a feel of how the place is really like through the many reviews submitted by fellow travelers who've stayed there before.
You'll probably even pick up a truckload of tips and gems from other travelers' experiences if you read the reviews conscientiously.
Additionally, you can compare prices with just a simple click or two! Bless whoever who made comparing and searching such an effortless process.
Another site where you could do the same is Lonely Planet. Simply by keying in your intended dates of travel and destination, the site churns out a selection of accommodation at various prices for you. You have the option of filtering according to your preferences, too! Plus they've got brief reviews done by their independent authors for you to refer to should you require any additional information on the place you're looking at.
Travel During Off-Season (At Your Destination)
This is a no brainer. To ensure that your travel costs are kept to a minimum, travel off-season to save on both air tickets and accommodation. But of course, the "off-season" period varies according to your travel destination.
So, make sure you do your homework to find out what's the "best" month for you to visit wherever you've been lusting to travel to.
For the uninitiated, couchsurfing is as literal as it can be - you surf (or rather, sleep) on a couch or your host's spare mattress for free. And you get to meet new friends (your hosts, of course) and learn about living like a local there and then.
Granted, couchsurfing is not for everyone and anyone. You have to be really adventurous and pretty gutsy to even try this one out, though it will save you a ton of money.
The thought is indeed scary for first-timers but basically, you stay with a hospitable someone at your destination and have the time of your life embarking on an adventure that plenty of your peers will be secretly envious of.
Just make sure to do your homework and ensure that your hosts are trustworthy. Use common sense here and check out reviews from other couchsurfers. Be nice, have some trust in your fellow human beings, and go with an open mind!
You'll probably meet some of the coolest and friendliest souls out there through your couchsurfing experience because those who open up their homes and arms to welcome fellow travelers into their abode are likely travelers themselves who have couchsurfed before. They know what it's like to be out there chasing their travels while cutting down on costs altogether.
Your hosts may even take you out to eat the things locals love, do the things locals do, visit the coolest party place in town, visit hidden places only locals know about. Well, basically, all the things that you can't find in travel guides.
Keen to try this out already? Start off by signing up for an account with Couchsurfing. Once you're comfortable with the idea of bunking in with others while you're traveling, you can even open up your home to welcome others and host them!
Stay In Hostels For A Change
Image source: Hostelworld
If you're a budget traveler looking to really stretch your buck, consider booking hostels instead of traditional hotels. Even though they may be far from luxurious, that doesn't mean they are lacking in terms of amenities to tide you through your stay.
Hostels probably remind you of dormitories where shared facilities are a given, but there are plenty of different types of rooms available to suit everyone's needs from tiny rooms, rooms meant for a solo traveler, rooms meant for couples to even rooms with double decker beds that can accommodate a party of fully-grown human beings!
As a rule of thumb, bigger hostel rooms are usually cheaper so if you're traveling in a group, opting to stay in hostels may be your best bet for shaving your travel costs. Plus, it'll be a lot of fun crashing with your pals, isn't it?
Hostels are also a fantastic choice for you to meet new people from all over the globe. So if you're open to making new friends and learning greetings of different languages, and you want to save some money, hostels are good places to start.
Need somewhere to start looking? Trying checking out Hostelworld for their extensive hostel listings worldwide from Europe, Asia, Africa to the Americas and even Oceania, hostel reviews, photographs and descriptions of the hostels.
Rent Apartments & Rooms
Image source: Airbnb
If you haven't heard, you can now rent unique places to stay wherever you're traveling to in over 190 countries through Airbnb. Often less expensive than traditional hotels, renting a fully furnished accommodation is perfect for those who are looking for a more homely and comfortable experience beyond his or her home. And especially if you're intending for a longer stay.
Little wonder why Airbnb has grown so much in recent years. You get to stay in places usually inaccessible to tourists, explore and be inspired by the local precinct, people, culture, sights and smells. Something truly amazing that most traditional hotels cannot promise you.
Oh, did I mention that you'll probably get to have a kitchen when you rent? That means you can whip up something simple (or elaborate if you're a very good cook) rather than having to dine out every single meal. Now that's going to save you some extra money, right?
If you're going to be renting, make sure you read reviews and do some thorough research just to be sure! You don't want to be sore and unhappy during your holiday, so make sure you iron things out with the landlord before committing to the booking.
Image source: HomeAway
HomeAway is another amazing site to check out if you're looking to rent a place and live like a local anywhere in the world. Search and explore accommodation apt for your style and budget to make your vacation an exceptionally memorable one.
For more options regarding rentals, look Roomorama and Wimdu up online. Roomorama provides short-term vacation rentals worldwide while Wimdu lets you take your pick from more than 300,000 city apartments in over 100 countries across the globe from Beijing to Berlin. If you like, you can also list your apartment for rent on Wimdu to earn some extra cash when you're off on your globetrotting adventures.
Swapping homes with fellow globetrotters around the world is a fabulous idea if you already own a home and you want to save some money on accommodation while you're on holiday.
How does this work? Well, for an agreed period of time, you exchange homes with someone from another city or country which you will be visiting. Besides saving a whole lot of money which would have gone into expensive hotel bills, you get to stay away cheaply and enjoy living somewhere cosy and homely altogether!
Although the idea may sound daunting, remember that your fellow homeswapper is trusting you with his or her home, so make sure you iron out the details and communicate clearly before committing to a home exchange.
And if you aren't already a homeowner just yet, check with your parents (or whoever you're living with) if they would be comfortable with an arrangement like that. If they are, then lucky you!
Otherwise, you could consider house-sitting as an alternative. Like what its name suggests, you get a place to stay in exchange for watching over somebody's house (and pets, if any) when they are away on holiday. That means you can look for house-sitting assignments in the destination which you are intending to travel to and have a roof over your head at almost no cost.
If you're keen in doing this, you have to check out sites like Mind My House, TrustedHousesitters, HouseCarers, Luxury House Sitting or HouseSit Match. Though you will incur some small cost by registering with house-sitting sites that get you a ton of house-sitting assignments, you'll save much more money than if you were to book traditional hotels.
Free Hotel Stays With Loyalty Programs
While swapping homes or bunking on someone else's couch certainly has an adventurous, money-saving appeal, there are times when nothing beats the simplicity, safety and comfort of a hotel.
If you have excellent credit and haven't gotten a new credit card in some time, then applying for a hotel credit card which comes with a large bonus offer and meeting the bonus requirement is one of the easiest ways to score free hotel stays.
Those bonus points can be redeemed for a lot of nights in lower tier hotels, or fewer nights in the lap of luxury. How you use them is up to you.
It's also worth knowing that many frequent flyer programs and credit card rewards programs give you the option of transferring your points to hotel loyalty programs, or redeeming your rewards directly for hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can transfer their Ultimate Rewards to IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® and Hyatt Gold Passport® at a 1:1 rate (1,000 Ultimate Rewards equal 1,000 hotel loyalty points). Redeeming your points directly towards hotel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards is also a good option, as you get 25% more value when you redeem points for hotels that way.
The Membership Rewards® points you earn with many American Express cards can be redeemed towards Airbnb stays. You can also convert your points to Hilton rewards at the rate of 1,000 points = 1,500 Honors™ points, which is pretty good value (terms and conditions apply).
Many frequent flyer programs also let you redeem your miles towards hotel stays. American Airlines AAdvantage® miles, for example, can be redeemed towards hotel stays at more than 150,000 properties worldwide. United MileagePlus members can redeem award miles for Marriott Rewards points one-for-one.
The possibilities of using credit cards, loyalty programs and frequent flyer miles to save on hotel stays are only limited by your imagination.
Emma Fox is a staff writer at GET.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgEditorial Disclosure: Any personal views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of GET.com. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.