5 Tips to Save on Lodging

When it comes to travel, the biggest cost usually comes from accommodations. Depending on a few factors (date of travel, number in your party, destination etc…) it could be possible to save hundreds on your travel accommodations. Don’t jump on the first discounted rate you find or settle for a roach motel. Instead, use these tips to save on accommodations.

Save Big on Travel: 5 Tips to Save on Accommodations

Save Big on Travel: Accommodations Edition

Think Outside the Box – When people think of travel accommodations the first thought tends to be hotel. Did you know there are many other hotel alternatives? Not every option is right for everyone, but chances are you’ll find at least 1 that fits your needs and will help you save on accommodations.

See my list of hotel alternatives for more resources.

Look Around – Just because you’re trip is to a big city doesn’t mean you have to stay in said big city. Prices are much higher in major cities as opposed to nearby towns. Use Google Maps (or something similar) to see what’s nearby your destination. Do a search for hotels in neighboring towns and notice the price difference. It’s like Vegas – you’re going to pay 3x more for accommodations on the strip than you would elsewhere.

Once you find a nearby town, use a site like TripAdvisor.com to search for the hotel’s in that town. See what others have to say.

This option may not be cheaper in the long run. Travelling from point A to point B can be expensive (which is why hotels in major areas cost more – convenience.) If you’re in an area that offers rail service or something similar (or if  you’re driving and it’s not too far away), then yes! If taxi’s are your primary source of transportation to and fro then the costs could really add up. 

Be Flexible – Travelling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras may be on your bucket list but it’s also not going to be cheap. Choosing to travel during the off season will go above and beyond to save on accommodations. Not only will you save money by travelling in the off seasons but you’ll avoid the nerve wrecking crowds and jacked up prices of, well, everything.

A simple Google search will quickly tell you when the best time to travel to a certain location is.

Get Discounts & Rewards – There are many loyalty programs out there that offer discounts and rewards to help save on accommodations. Many hotels offer reward and credit cards (like the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the The Choice Privileges® Visa® Card) that earn you rewards and get you discounts at the chain.

AAA members receive discounts at more than 58,000 hotels worldwide.

If you are a student, teacher, alumni, military personnel, government employee or emergency worker chances are you’ll get a discount.

See the most popular Hotel Rewards Programs here.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Better Deal – There are almost always deals hidden away in the schematics of a business. Top secret ways to save on accommodations are only a phone call away. Don’t be afraid to call the hotel or other location and inquire about a better rate. Reach out to area hotels & accommodators and inquire about a special rate just for a loyal fan. The worst they can do is say no!

A quick Google search will return the social media accounts you are looking for

Tell me: What tips do you have to save on accommodations?

Save Big on Travel: 5 Hotel Alternatives

When a hotel isn’t in the budget or just doesn’t fit your wants/needs there are options to still travel and not be homeless. Here is a collection of hotel alternatives.

Hostels:

hostel Hotel Alternatives

If you can get past the movie then hostels may be a viable option as hotel alternatives. A hostel is basically a dorm environment minus the college tuition. Hostel’s are usually very affordable and there can be some great memories made. Or you can get hacked to bits like in the movie…

Hostel Pros:

  • Very low cost. Depending on the area, you can expect to pay between $8 and $40 per night in a hostel.
  • They are virtually everywhere. Most major cities have at least 1 hostel.
  • Meet new people. You are guaranteed to meet new people when you choose hostels as hotel alternatives.

Hostel Cons:

  • Little to no privacy. When you stay in a hostel you are staying a dorm environment. You have bunkmates and the bathroom will usually be occupied when you need it the most.
  • Possible curfew. Isn’t the point of growing up to not have a curfew? Some hostels implement curfews and if you’re out when that time comes then you’re also out of luck.
  • Meet new people. Let’s face it, some people just suck. Thieves, murderers, abusers – you never know who you’ll run into when you stay at a hostel.

Find a hostel using a site like hostels.com or Googling “find a hostel”

 

Vacation Home Rentals

Vacation-Home Hotel Alternatives

If you’ve ever lived in or visited a popular tourist area you’ve most likely laid eyes on the glorious vacation homes.

Vacation Home Rental Pros:

  • Privacy. When you choose vacation rentals as hotel alternatives you get the house to yourself. No prying eyes or ears, unless the home has pesky neighbors.
  • Possibly save money. Since you’ll have access to a {usually} fully loaded kitchen you can possibly save money on the cost of food. This doesn’t help much if you’re like my brother and burn water.
  • You can “live it up”. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in an extravagant home now is your chance. Without the mortgage!

Vacation Home Rental Cons:

  • Expensive. Vacation home rentals can be very pricey – especially during tourist season.
  • Repairs may not happen. Vacation home rentals aren’t staffed like hotels so if something breaks it may not get fixed while you’re there. Bringing (or being) your own personal handyman can alleviate this problem!
  • You still have to clean. When you rent a vacation home you generally put down a deposit. This can be a hefty fee and the only way to get it back is by leaving the home in the condition it was when you arrived. Cleaning on vacation?!

Find a Vacation Home Rental using a site like FlipKey.com or Googling “find a Vacation Home Rental”

 

Home Exchanges

Home Swap Hotel Alternatives

Have you ever watched the movie The Holiday with  Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Jude Law? That movie is based on a home exchange. If you haven’t watched it and enjoy romantic themed movies, watch it! Granted not every home exchange will end with finding ones true love but you’ll save money and have an experience of a lifetime nonetheless.

Home Exchange Pros:

  • It’s free. You aren’t paying for the accommodations so you’ll have money to allocate to other goodies.
  • First hand experience of local culture. Hotels are so impersonal; staying in someones home is very personal. The decor alone may give you an inside glimpse at the local culture.
  • Your Home isn’t abandonedEmpty homes are big targets for robbers. Having the peace of mind that someone in your home while you’re away can be priceless.

Home Exchange Cons:

  • Strangers will be in your home. I’m not overly comfortable with strangers being in my house when I’m home, let alone when I’m not! Curiosity can get the best of people so if you have skeletons in your closet you may want to relocate them ASAP.
  • Expect the unexpected. You really don’t know what you’re going to come home to or what you’re going “home” to.
  • It can take forever. Finding the “perfect match” for a home exchange can take a very long time. I wouldn’t recommend planning a trip around this option until an exchange has been agreed upon.

Find a home exchange using a site like homeexchange.com or Googling “find a hostel”

 

Hospitality Exchanges

Hospitality Exhange Hotel Alternatives

Much like staying with friends and family, a hospitality exchange is normally free of charge. Only with strangers.

Hospitality Exchange Pros:

  • It’s free. Usually.
  • Your own personal tour guide (maybe). Your new roommate can show you all the local haunts and attractions without leaving you feeling like a total tourist.
  • Make new friends. Some leave a hospitality exchange with a new BFF. Future visits may be inevitable.

Hospitality Exchange Cons:

  • The couch may not be comfy. It’s not likely you’ll receive the most luxurious accommodations with a hospitality exchange. Usually it’s a couch or a futon in a spare room.
  • It can be an uncomfortable environment. When you’re thrown into living with a stranger or strangers it can be uncomfortable. Not knowing much about them can leave you feeling very uneasy.
  • There may be rules. Of course people want to be respected and set ground rules, but some people can go overboard.

Find available hospitality exchanges using a site like couchsurfing.org or Googling “find a hospitality exchange”

 

Inns and Bed & Breakfasts

5 Hotel Alternatives

Inns and B&B’s are probably my favorite hotel alternatives. Not only do you avoid tons of people, but they seem to let you experience more of the destinations culture. Most Inns and Bed & Breakfasts are operated by area locals who can give you inside tips to make your travels even better.

Inns and Bed & Breakfast Pros:

  • Get insider tips. There’s no one who knows your destination like the locals.
  • Fill your belly. Food is provided by the innkeepers and there’s usually plenty to go around.
  • Leave with a unique experience under your belt. First hand experiences are the best. When you have access to local cultures and customs the experiences are definitely one of a kind.

Inns and Bed & Breakfast Cons:

  • Innkeepers can be nosy. They’ll most likely ask a lot of questions and while they probably don’t mean any harm it can be annoying.
  • The food may be bad. Not everyone can make grandpa’s waffles, so don’t set out expecting to be wow’d by the meals provided. They could, of course, surprise you and win over your tumy.
  • May have curfews. Their house, their rules. Many Inns and B&B’s institute a curfew and if so you may be stuck on the streets if you’re not back in time.

Find an Inn or Bed & Breakfast using a site like or Googling “find an Inn” or “find a Bed & Breakfast”

Tell Me: Have you tried any of these hotel alternatives?

Save Big on Travel: 5 Tips to Save on Flight Costs

Most people want to travel but their budgets don’t always allow for it. Thankfully there are some tricks I’ve picked up along the way that will allow you to save big on travel. The key to saving on travel is to plan in advance. There are some tips and techniques for late planners, but the sooner the better! Flying seems to be a very popular method of travel so we’ll start this save big series off with saving on flight costs.

Save Big on Travel: 5 Tips to Save on Flight Costs

Save Big on Travel: Flight Costs Edition

Opting to fly out of a smaller airport could possibly save you money. Generally they are cheaper, however depending on how far you are from that airport it may not be cost efficient. If the cost of travel to the smaller airport vs the major airport is $20 or less definitely jump on it. If it is more then it is a judgement call; obviously if the cost equals out or exceeds the savings you’ll want to go with who is closest.

Use a site like Kayak.com or TripAdvisor.com to find cheapest flights for all nearby airports. Save even more with open dates!

Save on checked baggage by flying with JetBlue (who allows 1 bag checked for free) or Southwest (who allows 2 bags to be checked for free.) If these airlines aren’t available or you just prefer not to travel with them there are other options. Many credit cards offer travel perks like:

  • American Express SkyMiles – Carriers of this card get 1 free checked bag with Delta Air Lines 
  • Chase Presidential Plus – Carriers of this card get 2 free checked bags with Continental Airlines
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage – Carriers of this card get 1 free checked bag with American Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines World Elite – Carriers of this card get 1 free checked bag with Hawaiian Airlines

If you can’t get around the checked baggage fees you can pack as much as possible into your carry-on’s to allow for less baggage to check.

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are the cheapest days to fly. If your plans allow for this it’s a great way to save big.

Use social media to your advantage. Most airlines share their deals and discounts via their social media networks. Follow them or at least check in on occasion to cyber stalk their discounted fares. Some popular airlines on social media are:

Using your frequent flyer miles may seem like  a no-brainer for some but for others it just slips their minds. Check on your rewards with your card company or consider getting a credit card that offers miles. Many have a large upfront reward of points that will cover or partially cover at least 1 ticket.

Tell Me: What tips do you have to save big on flight costs?