After airfare, your lodging is usually the next most expensive part of your trip. It only makes sense to try and save as much money on it as you can. But there are so many sites and it can be hard to figure out where to find the best deal. Here are some of our favorite tips & websites for finding fantastic deals. We use all of these sites regularly to book our accommodations as we travel around the world.
Tips for saving money on accommodations
- Travel in the off season – The off-season can be a great time to travel. Great rates on lodging and fewer people to deal with. Our favorite time to travel is during the off season OR during the shoulder season (the few weeks just before and just after the high season). During shoulder season, you’ll see lower rates, but the weather will still be good in your location, and most of the amenities will still be open. It’s a great time to travel and save some money at the same time. Sometimes the risk with traveling off season is that the weather could be bad or many things could be closed for the season. Note: My friend, J, reminded me that the off season is different in every place you go. So be sure to do a bit of research on when the off season is for the destination you’re looking at.
- Stay in the cheapest room – You often don’t spend that much time in your room anyway. And the cheapest room usually comes with the exact same onsite amenities, especially at a resort property.
- Rent an apartment or room instead of a hotel room – If you’re staying more than a few days an apartment can often be a much better deal overall. Plus, they come with all sorts of extra amenities, such as kitchens and laundry facilities, which make a long term stay so much nicer.
- Couchsurf – Couchsurfing is a great way to find fantastic accommodations for Free! (Although, you can incur other hidden costs, such as a gift for the host or higher transportation costs to the location). It’s a fun way to meet local people and really get a local’s take on the place you’re visiting.
- Stay a block or two away from the main drag – Staying a bit further away from the main attraction can translate into huge savings on lodging. For example, rooms across the street from the beach, rather than on the beach, will be a lot cheaper.
Favorite Sites for Booking Accommodations
Agoda – Agoda is a great website to use for finding great rooms at great prices. We find that it often has better rates when we’re looking at hotels outside the US, especially in Asia. But we have found a few good domestic deals on it too.
Booking.com – This is our workhorse booking site when looking for a hotel. It consistently delivers great rates both domestically and internationally.
Airbnb – Airbnb is a site where regular people rent out their home, apartment, houseboat, or just a room in their home. It’s a great option, especially if you’re staying someplace for more than a few days. We have used Airbnb to rent apartments all over the world and have always had a great experience.
Hostel World and Hostel Bookers – Looking for a hostel? These two sites are our favorites for booking hostels. Both sites offer a huge amount of information about each hostel, including some of the most accurate & honest reviews. Great sites for people who like to travel and stay in hostels (Hey, why not give hostels a chance? So many wonderful places to stay. They’re not all just dives with dormitories, you know. And they are great places to meet people and get really great travel information. Many of them even come with free breakfast & free wifi!)
Couchsurfing – Looking for a fun and very cheap alternative lodging idea? Couchsurfing might be for you. This sites connects travelers with locals. You can arrange to stay with a local (usually in a guest room, but sometimes on their couch) or you can arrange just to meet up with a local and have them show you around their town. Fantastic way to meet new people and a really cheap alternative for lodging.
Hotwire – Feeling lucky? This site offers a blind booking option that can save you tons of cash on great hotels. You choose your star level and your neighborhood, and Hotwire offers you hotels at a reduced rate. The catch: you don’t know what hotel you got until you finalize your booking.
Priceline – We typically use Priceline for their blind bidding process, where you select a location/neighborhood and a rating level (such as 3 star) and then choose an amount to bid. Priceline takes all your information, including your credit card, and if your bid is accepted you are automatically billed. If not, then you have the opportunity to change your bid and bid again. This site can save you a lot on some of the more popular hotel chains.
Better Bidding – Looking for some tips or help with figuring out the bid process on Priceline and what hotels people typically get on Hotwire and Priceline? Betterbidding.com is a great website where people who have bid in the past share their bids and what they ended up getting. It’s a great place to start to get loads of information before you head over to Priceline or Hotwire for blind bidding/booking.
Things to look at when you book accommodations:
- Pay attention to any additional taxes and fees that will be tacked on at the end.
- Is your card being billed automatically at the time the reservation is made? Or is it just to hold the reservation and you’ll pay when you check in or check out?
- What is the cancellation policy?
And there you have it! Our favorite sites and tips when booking accommodations. Now get out there and plan a getaway! Coming up next week, we’ll share where we go to find trip ideas and inspiration.
Have questions or need advice? Let us know in the comments, on our Facebook page, or contact us directly.