How to Save Money on Hotels
By Rachel Deutsch
Traveling is considered by most of us as a luxury item on our list of things to buy. We'd all love to travel more, and see the most exotic places from the presidential suite of the best hotel, alas, most of us have a limited budget. To meet this budget we need to make a few compromises, but still, there are things you can do to make the most of your budget.
Before we start listing the ways to save, there is one cliché I want to mention: "I'm not rich enough to buy cheap things". It's a cliché, but it's true. Don't go to the cheapest hotel you can find if you're not sure you fully understand why it is cheap. If the price sounds too good to be true it probably is.
When you arrive you will find out why the price was low, and it will be too late. Your vacation could be ruined by building noises starting early in the morning, or by discovering that the hotel is in a neighborhood you don't want to walk in after dark. It is better to pay a little more and have a good vacation (I know, you have this friend who always boasts he got an upgrade and a discount. You don't have to tell him the truth either.).
If two hotels look the same but one costs 20% less per night, ask yourself why. Most times there's a good answer. For example, one hotel has a convention center, and it is filled with visitors of a convention, and the other has no such facilities. Since you have no use for a convention center, you should gladly enjoy the lower price.
Here I will try to describe how to find a good place (Your definition of good), for a little less, or much less.
Find a package deal
There are many offers for hotel and flight packages that are sometimes really cheap. Compare the price offered to taking a flight and a hotel separately, because sometimes a package deal is not the best way to go.
Be aware of your needs
Beautiful decoration, luxury and large rooms are great to have, but they come with a cost. Think what your minimum requirements are. Some people don't mind sharing a shower, while for others it could ruin the trip. For some, internet access is a must while others couldn't care less. The less you need - the less you pay.
Are you really going to use the swimming pool or the gym? They look lovely in the pictures, but if you intend to spend all day sightseeing you may not need them.
The one thing I wouldn't recommend to settle on (apart from cleanliness) is location. Living far from the center of the city you are visiting means you are going to waste time and money on transportation every day.
Wait for the last minute
This one is a bit risky, especially if you are visiting a popular tourist site during high season. If you are willing to take a risk, you may find a room that was left vacant due to a cancellation. The owners will be willing to lower the price rather than stay with an empty room for the night.
Book in advance
It is a bit ironic, because it is the complete opposite of the previous advice, but it makes sense. Imagine that it is now March, and you own a hotel in a summer vacation area. You had hardly any income during the winter. This is expected, but it still feels bad. You hope that the coming summer will be good, but how can you tell? If you have the opportunity to make a booking now for August, and maybe get a small down payment, you would be happy to lower the price for the security. By June or July, when most of the rooms are booked for the summer, owners will feel more confident about charging full rates.
Rent an apartment
Holiday apartments normally cost less than hotel rooms with equivalent rating and similar location. You get more space, privacy and the possibility of preparing your own food. On the other hand, you get fewer services - normally apartments are not cleaned daily and there are no meals served, no concierge etc.
Check discounts and corporate rates
Check if the hotel you want to go to has a discount for credit card holders, members of any clubs you belong to or corporate rates you may be able to use.
Can you change the length of your stay?
Most hotels offer reduced rates for longer stays. The total sum you pay will be larger, but the cost per night will be lower. If you are planning a trip to several places that are not very far from one another, and you wanted to divide your stay between the places, you may want to consider staying in one place and making day trips.
How to save after you arrive
Check the small print. If breakfast is not included, check the price of breakfast compared to having breakfast in another place (a coffee shop or diner). Check the price of local and long distance phone calls compared to using cellular phone or a calling card. Check the price of internet access. You may prefer to use an internet cafe or wait for your next stop.
When you check out carefully read your bill and make sure you are not billed for services you didn't use.
Rachel Deutsch is the owner and writer of http://www.dream-vacation-in-Tuscany.com. On this site, as in others, she shares her experience in travel, and the interest in Italy, its history and its pleasures.
Hotels & Resorts
More Articles by Rachel Deutsch
More Travel Articles
Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.