Travel on a budget - Part 2 - Hotel

Monday, August 9, 2010

In a previous entry, I blogged some suggestions for saving money on airfare.  Time now to cover the next biggest expense on a trip (sometimes the biggest) - hotel costs. Here are a few money saving trips that will (hopefully) help make your trip more enjoyable.

  1. Do a little research - Headed to Disney Land? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that staying right off property can be a little less expensive than right at Disney.  But what about a hotel 20 miles away?  Ask yourself if the savings would offset the time spent in the car.  If you aren't headed to Disney, but visiting your Great Aunt Mildred in Anaheim, you'll want to make sure that hotels near Aunt Mildred aren't charging a premium for their proximity to an attraction you have no plans to visit. 
  2. Consider a suite - How can getting a more expensive room pay off?  I'm a big fan of extended stay hotels (especially Staybridge Suites)  Lets say a family of four is traveling, and would normally stay in one room to save money.  Let's say they expect to spend about $75/night at mid-range hotel.  If breakfast isn't included, add on $40 a day for breakfast. Why not stay at an extended stay hotel, like Staybridge Suites, which includes a good breakfast and a managers reception during the week (read: free food and, depending on local laws, sometimes free booze).  This would put you in a nicer hotel bracket for the $115/day budget for lodging and breakfast.  Extended stay hotels usually include a small kitchenette, perfect for grabbing a few basic groceries and saving money on eating every meal out.  Also, if your group normally gets two hotel rooms, a two bedroom suite is usually cheaper and still provide separate bedrooms and bathrooms.
  3. Join the Club - Most hotel chains offer a wide range of hotel options, from long term stay, mid-range to up-brand hotels, their websites typically show all of their hotels in the desired city.  You could find that a night at Courtyard Suites (a Marriott brand) will run you $89, but a night at the Marriott is $140 per night. By joining their club, you can get emails with discounts and start collecting points.  Hotel points can be combined with airline miles for a pretty good vacation. 
  4. Call the hotel directly - So you've figured out where you want to stay, and you've joined their club, call the hotel directly and ask for their best price.  Be super nice on the phone - the person on the other end has more authority than you realize.  Simply call and say "I'm a member of [insert their points system name] and I'll be in town soon, I was wondering if you could price match [insert competition's name and rate]" or "I was wondering what the best rate you have available these nights."  Worst they can do? Say "no."  I used to travel to El Paso quite a bit, and Comfort Suites was charging me $90/night plus tax.  When someone told me Microtel was only $59 a night, I kept that in mind when I booked my next reservation.  I called and said "Hey, my company really wants me to stay at Microtel to save money, is there any chance you could lower your rate for my stay?" when they asked the rate, the assured me they couldn't match it, but offered me $65/night.  Saving $25 a night - not too bad!
  5. Name your own price - Using, you can set your requirements and bid on a nightly rate - this is especially effective last minute.  A friend booked a trip on short notice at a 5 star hotel for under $100/night - the room usually goes for $239!  Also sites like advertises great last minute deals.
  6. Hotel alternatives - There are sites that feature privately owned vacation homes that are rented out by owner.  Especially ideal for a group traveling, websites like let you review vacation rentals that offer all the comforts of home.  Traveling abroad?  I'm a big fan of staying at hostels in Europe.  When someone first suggested hostels, I was imagining military bunk-style accommodations.  It turns out that there are different levels, from bunk-style up to rooms that are identical to what you would expect of a hotel room. In Santa Margarita Ligure, our room was half the price of the rest of our group, and was just as nice.  Check out sites like but make sure you read reviews!  Some hostels have a younger clientele, so you can expect a noisy lobby through all hours of the night, while others enforce curfews.  Many hostels offer free internet access in their lobbies - pretty uncommon for Europe.  
So those are a few of my suggestions to make your vacation a little more wallet friendly!  What suggestions do you have - post them in the comments! :)


  1. Good call not mentioning the hostel in Rome...

  2. HA! Good call, Bob. A friend of mine once told me that everything in life is either a good experience or a good story. That hostel in Rome is a good story!

    But I'm pretty sure the food a city more than made up for that overpriced dump!


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