Here is Part 3 of our Road Trip Travel Series. In this part, we are going to discuss how to find and negotiate your way to the best rates for a place to stay, along with a summary of ideas for calling it a night!
Places To Stay On The Road:
- Hotel, Motel, Resorts
- Condo or Timeshare resort
- Bed and Breakfasts
- Staying With Friends or Family
- House Swap
How We Save On Hotel/Motel/Resort: (the word Hotel will be used in the following description, but the same steps are for all 3 types of accommodations.
This is the most common way to sleep while on vacation! It can also be the most costly of the options from the list above! There are a few tricks that we have learned to help stretch this portion of the vacation budget!
- Set a budget (there that phrase is AGAIN 😉 ) Like we have mentioned before – this is key to keeping you on track.
- First visit sites like Travelocity.com, Priceline.com, hoteldiscount.com, and hotwire.com
- These are the ones we typically refer to for our “price point,” that is the price we need to beat and to help us determine hotels in the area that are the lowest cost with the amenities that we want.
- We rarely actually make a reservation through one of these sites for a number of reasons: we can usually beat the price, the cancellation policies typically involve a fee (vs. typical cancellations with the hotel by 6pm for no charge), plus I like being able to investigate and have a little more control over what we are promised in the reservation.
- Then we start searching on each individual hotel’s site for deals, email lists for offers and then also act as if you are going to make a reservation through their site directly to see what prices you get. Compare with the prices from the popular travel sites above.
- Check coupon books that you may have (like the Entertainment book) to compare offers – honestly, trick #6 has actually contributed to way more savings than what a coupon can offer as they base the coupon discounts off of the highest room rates! So we rarely use a coupon!
- Join the hotel’s rewards club! In order to take advantage of this, you have to stay often at one hotel chain. I am not sure if we have ever earned a FREE night for that reason – but it certainly doesn’t hurt if you have enough points to use it. Many times you will receive snail mailed or emailed special offers just for being a rewards member.
- Call the hotel directlyonce you have narrowed down an approximate price point, amenities and location. CALL DIRECTLY – not the 1-800 number. You want to call the actual hotel you plan to stay at – you probably have to look this up on dexknows.com as many of the sites just have the reservation line listed!
- When you call, see what the “best they can do for you” is! Most often, we find the price to be cheaper than any online source! Then find out if they take an discounts for travel clubs (AAA is a very popular one), airline miles members (e.g., many hotels have discounts for Delta Skymiles owners – even if you didn’t fly for that particular trip), senior discounts. This is a good time to mention that coupon you may have to see what it can do for you, etc.!
- Ask to speak with the supervisor on shift as they will really be the only ones that can make the true discounted rates and work your negotiating magic!
- If you can travel last minute or spontaneously, you may be able to score even greater savings by following the steps above. Many hotels want to be as full as possible and give even deeper discounts last minute to fill empty rooms! We usually plan far ahead, but then check right before we leave to see if something can be adjusted to save more (of course prior to the last date we can cancel for our current reservation)!
- Upon arrival – see if they will upgrade you to a better room, a continental breakfast to a hot breakfast (if offered), a better view, etc.!! Don’t count on it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask!
Tips to consider when staying at a hotel, motel or resort:
- Find a room with a fridge and microwave – this can contribute to many savings for breakfast, snacks and possible lunch like items!
- Find a hotel with a good cancellation policy – like being able to cancel up to 6 pm the day of checkout with no fees to do so – you never know what is going to happen and this could get you if you have to cancel a trip due to sickness, etc!
- Find a hotel with a FREE breakfast – again, this will contribute to a huge amount of savings!!
- Find a hotel where kids eat FREE if you are traveling with your family. This greatly helps to ease the food budget!
- Find a hotel with FREE parking – most are this way, but you will want to double check as that extra $5 -$10 a night needs to be taken into consideration!
- Find a hotel that will give you a FREE rollaway or FREE crib (or factor the price into your total price) if you need this extra bed.
- Always find out the hotel room capacity as you can be fined for exceeding this capacity! Don’t get caught – the state of CA is the most particular about this! (this is where condo and timeshares will come in – so keep watching for that post) 😉
- Find a hotel that offers amenities that you want to enjoy during your stay and possibly contribute to some savings – like a swimming pool as this becomes a FREE activity.
- Always consider safety and security – this is #1 for us and is a much bigger factor than “just the cheapest hotel you can find”!
- Factor tipping for your maid service into your budget. They will make your stay much more pleasant! PLUS it is a very nice gesture.
*We will be covering the topic of Condo’s and Timeshares in the next segment – this is actually the way that we travel most often, stay tuned…..
Don’t miss our full four-part series on taking a road trip – thrifty style of course!
- Part I: Prepare Your Vehicle
- Part II: The Actual Ride
- Part III: How To Sleep Financially Sound – Hotel, Motel, Resorts
- Part IV: Staying At Timeshare Resorts and Condos