One of the greatest expenses in travel is accommodation, but employing good strategies to save on accommodation means more money in your pocket, meaning more travel. We live perpetually on the road, so we’re constantly searching for the next place to stay. Over time we’ve built a collection of tricks we use to save on accommodation. In this day and age, there are tons of travel resources at your disposal to find a great place to stay for cheap. You could consider us backpackers, but we rarely stay in the cheapest accommodation. Unfortunately, we continue to grow older so now we steer more and more away from the former days of shared rooms in hostels.
When we search for accommodation these days, it’s all about the bang for our buck.
How we save on accommodation
Get a Deal
We always like to play around with the length of our hotel stays. Sites like Airbnb (click this link for $45!) suggest that their owners offer discounts for longer stays, and we find this is often the case. While resorts often offer 4 nights for the price of 3, a great way to find deals like these is to cut out the middle man and book directly through the hotel’s website.
Location, Location, Location
This should always be a factor in selecting accommodation. A cheap hotel really isn’t so cheap if you have to take a taxi everytime you want to head to town. Staying in the poshest part of town also probably comes with a high price tag. You don’t necessarily need to be right in the action. We suggest to aim for good neighborhoods—search TripAdvisor forums or google for good neighborhoods in a city before visiting. Often you find comfortable neighborhoods where the locals live, but are readily accessible to the city center.
Free Breakfast? What about a kitchen? Check out those details.
Always read through the details about the facilities of your hotel. It often does not translate as direct savings when you book, but over the course of your stay it can become the cheaper option. Things like is there a fridge in your room to store snacks may not be the obvious thing to look for when booking a place, but can end up saving you money in the long run. Our favorite is to find places that offer at least a kitchenette so we can cook because another big expense of travel is food. We also love when there is a washer at our Airbnb rentals so we can wash all our dirty clothes for free!
Skip out on the weekend trips
Prices at popular destinations are at their peak on the weekend. Heading to multiple locations on a trip? If one destination appears to be more popular it’s best to avoid the weekend since rates will increase. Fridays and Saturdays are when hotels are at their peak occupancy, which translates to higher rates. We guide our itineraries to hit places where rates are lower on the weekend then head to the hotter destination when the work days come. You’ll come to love Mondays!
Travel in a Group
This is another topic we’ve touched on before. Why? Because it’s a great way to save. Traveling in a group means you can split the cost. Apartments become a great option and can house multiple people, which often come out cheaper than hostels and are far more comfortable.
Speaking of Hostels
If you’re young, or just looking to save a buck then hostels are wonderful. They’re cheap, often centrally located, offer kitchens to cook your own food, and will be filled with like-minded travelers. Or don’t listen to me because you shouldn’t stay in a hostel anyways.
Say “Hello!” to the shoulder season
The shoulder season and the off-season can be the best times to travel to trendy destinations. Tourists are at their lowest numbers meaning more space to yourself and prices can be drastically different. Hotels are likely to give you free upgrades, even small ones. We often book the cheapest room in smaller hotels only to be bumped up to their nicest room because we’re their only guests. So not only was it cheaper, but we got a much better room than we would by traveling in the high season.
Check out the neighbors
Another great option is staying in the town over. Smaller towns and cities often have cheaper accommodation and food options meaning you save twice. As long as you don’t mind a commute into the main city this is a great option. Just make sure to verify the price of transport before booking because you’ll lose if the cost of transportation outweighs the savings.
When we know we’re traveling to a destination far in advance we do a quick search and find a good room with free cancellation. This ensures we have a room at a decent price while we can continue to periodically search for rate fluctuations and nab a better deal. We like to use booking.com for this since they offer free cancellation on a lot of properties, but always read the details before booking they can be tricky. We find that Booking.com is great for this.
What are you going to eat?
This is one that’s easy to miss but is something that’s become second nature to us. We always check the location of our accommodation and do a quick search of restaurants, cafes, and for budget-conscious markets. TripAdvisor is a great way to find places by location almost everywhere in the world. We also suggest reading some of the reviews from other guests of the hotel, often guests will mention food options in the area – or lack thereof. That budget resort isn’t so budget if you only have their expensive food options, and they know this.
It’s all about the points. Whether it be hotel points, credit card points, or just membership benefits taking advantage of free perks – collecting points is like saving money 101. The actual business of it can be complicated. So, we follow The Points Guy who runs a terrific blog, that will keep you up to date. We love sign up bonuses on credit cards and have many travel credit cards that offer us a slew of benefits. In addition to the rewards points you can get automatic enrollment in membership programs, international concierge services, free room upgrades, and exclusive offers.
Follow, subscribe, or like your favorite search sites, hotels, and destination pages. They often promote sales and campaigns through their social media channels. This way you won’t miss out on the latest deal they’re offering. While you’re at it follow us on Facebook too.
Sign up for e-newsletter deals too
While you’re at it subscribe to their newsletters.
Delete your cookies/history
This is one that is not quite as intuitive as some of the other items on this list, but search engines save cookies on your site and will often raise prices based on your actions. Keep looking at the same hotel? The price may go up in order to make you feel the need to book, they’re crafty like that. Switch your browser to incognito mood, delete your most recent cookies, or try using a VPN such as “Hola!” to get a clean slate and ensure you’re getting the best price.
Want more? Nomadic Matt gives great advice on how to find a cheap place to stay!