Traveling can open up the opportunity to create some incredible memories and see places you've dreamed of. But, wow, is it a hassle! Hotel rates alone are wildly overpriced—not to mention all of the other expenses that come with traveling. But, if you know how to work around hotel costs, then you can save your money for fun stuff at your dream destination. So, here are a few ways you can save yourself a little bit more money when booking a hotel.
Book Directly With the Hotel
Websites like Expedia or Hotels.com typically charge a commission fee. After you've researched your hotels and decided on your dates, it's best to call the hotel directly and book your room. Calling the hotel can open up the opportunity to get a better deal or a room upgrade. Plus, if you found a place cheaper somewhere else, you can request a price match. Most front desk employees are required to make a deal with you on the phone, so this is an excellent time to negotiate. You can also ask about anything that could impact your stay (conventions, hotel renovations, or the like).
Go in the Off-Season
Timing is everything when you're traveling or looking to book a hotel, so it's recommended that you visit during a destination's off-season. If you travel during this time period, then you can cut your hotel costs by up to two-thirds (if not more)! There are other perks to off-season travel, including fewer crowds, shorter lines, and more to do when you don't have to compete with hundreds of other tourists. A period known as "dead week" is typically the best time to go anywhere. “Dead week” is January 1st through January 15th, and this is when travel costs are at their absolute cheapest.
Keep Your Days in Mind
Just like deciding on whether to go during on- or off-season, choosing what time of the week you're going to be at your destination can drastically affect the price. Specific destinations have a peak time during the week. For example, Las Vegas's peak times are Friday and Saturday nights. Avoiding those peak periods will automatically get you a cheaper rate on a hotel. Midweek is typically encouraged if you're after the cheapest price. Make sure you know your destination's peak and off-peak times.
Sign Up for Loyalty and Rewards Programs
The vast majority of hotels and hotel chains have some kind of free-to-join rewards program that allows you to accumulate points by booking with them or shopping with their partners. Once you get enough points, you typically get a free night. The rewards programs may also get you free breakfasts, early-check-in, room upgrades, and other various discounts and free stuff. If you're a frequent traveler, these points can add up quickly and can be useful later. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, they can usually be redeemed at any branch of that hotel across the country.
Try a Travel Agent
Booking online can be a hassle. Some websites have hidden fees that you don't find out about until much later, but a travel agent can cut out a lot of the headache. Travel agents are exceptionally well equipped to help you book a hotel and negotiate on prices (some may even be able to get you room upgrades or food and drink credit). The best part? It's entirely likely they may not even charge you to book a room. Finding an agent that's right for you and willing to help will require a little bit of research on your end, but it could be well worth it.
Become a Member of AAA
Being a member of some organization can pay sometimes. Members of AARP, AAA, or former military personnel can all qualify for special rates on hotel rooms. American Automobile Association (AAA) members can qualify for discounts up to 50% off the public rates of major hotel chains like Marriott or Sheraton. If you have this option, it is usually the cheapest, but make sure you check with and without your membership discounts for any outstanding deals that could be even better. They’re rare, but they do happen occasionally.
Stay Outside the City Center
Yes, this could be a tad inconvenient, but is it worth it? Absolutely. Of course, we'd love to stay right on the doorstep of where the action is, but that's only really possible if you're willing to spend a small fortune. Public transport and ride sharing offer much cheaper alternatives to get you around the city. Often times, you can get a super nice place to stay on the outskirts of a city for the same price (or cheaper) than a budget hotel in the city center.