Whether you’re backpacking around southeast Asia, planning a beach vacation in Florida, or seeing Europe’s great cities, hotel accommodation can eat up your budget pretty fast. So it always helps to find ways to reduce the cost of the places you stay, freeing up spending money for the things that matter.
The thing is, most travelers fail to take advantage of all of the tools at their disposal, resulting in inflated accommodation costs. But there are actually some neat ways to cut the price of a good night’s sleep, wherever you intend to travel, including choosing to book hotels with a VPN.
If you’re wondering how to save money on hotels, here are some of the best ways we’ve found to travel on a budget.
#1 Bundling hotels and flights together
One way that always seems to work out cheaper is by using booking sites which bundle together transport and accommodation. This isn’t a 100% watertight rule, but by and large you’ll save money by staying at hotels recommended by these sites.
The catch? Well, the best prices are almost always available at hotels close to airports, which won’t be ideal for many travelers. But if you’re renting a vehicle or happy to be slightly out of town, there are definitely big savings to be found. And when you add in savings on your flight ticket, the reduction is even more dramatic.
#2 Think about bypassing major booking sites entirely
Whenever you book hotels, feel free to think about using the websites of hotel chains instead of booking aggregators like booking.com.
There’s a good reason for this. Big chains like Sofitel or Marriott have their own traffic generation strategies that are linked to regular deals, and these deals aren’t usually featured on affiliated booking sites. Instead, they are reserved for visitors to their own websites. So if you check their sites before booking, you might find some surprising offers.
Another good idea is to call hotels you might want to stay at before you book, particularly if you are looking for a room in the next few days. Prices are often lower when booking in person, rather than using booking websites.
#3 Explore what auction sites can provide
Booking sites and hotels themselves aren’t the only places to find cut-price accommodation these days. In fact, auction sites like Priceline probably deliver the lowest prices overall, and they are always worth checking out before you make any bookings.
These sites work a little like eBay, in that customers can “name their price” by submitting bids for hotel rooms (and vehicle rentals). The quality of the accommodation on offer isn’t always of the highest standard, and the location of your hotel might not be ideal, but there’s no doubt that auction sites represent fantastic value.
When competition is fierce, prices can rise to levels that aren’t much lower than standard booking sites.
Of course, just like on eBay, you can miss out on Priceline deals by being outbid by the competition. So when competition is fierce, prices can rise to levels that aren’t much lower than standard booking sites – something to remember before you get too involved in their markets.
#4 Don’t discount the power of discounts
Another great idea for people asking how to save money on hotels is to make use of discount schemes wherever possible. Sometimes these schemes are attached to membership of organizations like the AARP, but all kinds of bodies come with accommodation discounts as part of their membership perks. You might not even know about them, so why not double check? Even credit cards can have deals attached.
Then there are discount codes. Obviously these are a bit hit and miss, as you can only use codes that are available at any given time. But if you aren’t too worried about where you travel and when, you’ll be amazed by how much money online coupons can save.
For example, HotelCoupons.com offer books of coupons which can be picked up at Chevron gas stations or many outlets of Dunkin Donuts.
Some companies bridge the gap between the world of bricks and mortar commerce and digital coupons. For example, HotelCoupons.com offer books of coupons which can be picked up at Chevron gas stations or many outlets of Dunkin Donuts. They offer coupons for hotels dotted across Canada and the continental USA, and can often be the cheapest option out there.
#5 Get down with the locals
If you’re arriving at a destination and still haven’t booked your accommodation, it can be a stressful experience. Most of the time, when this happens people are happy to settle for an overpriced room, just so they can have somewhere to lay their head.
But wait a minute. Whenever you arrive, there’s a chance of securing cut-price hotel rooms. Often, all it takes is chatting to a local who is well positioned to know the best value hotels. Taxi drivers are invaluable sources of information about any city, and accommodation is no exception. So feel free to ask them for a recommendation.
Often they will know the managers of key hotels, and their connections can snag you some impressive bargains. But in return you might need to call on their services for the journey back to the airport.
#6 Check out short term sales for the best bargains
You may well be familiar with the concept of flash sales for things like electronic goods or clothing, but did you know that there are also flash sales for hotel accommodation?
Sites like Expedia have started offering short-term sales featuring a limited number of rooms at popular hotels. In their case, this always takes place via their smartphone app, which is worth installing as discounts of 30 percent are routine.
Sites like Expedia have started offering short-term sales featuring a limited number of rooms at popular hotels.
Plenty of other booking sites have adopted the flash sale model, including Kayak, Andrew Harper, Alpharooms, and Hipmunk, so if you are willing to take a gamble on what they have to offer, don’t miss out.
#7 How using a VPN to book a hotel can be a great idea
As we mentioned in the introduction, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be part of every savvy travelers toolkit. Relatively few travelers book hotels with a VPN, but it’s potentially one of the best ways to slash the cost of hotels.
Here’s why you can save money on hotels with a VPN:
Most accommodation booking sites use the geographical location of customers to deliver purchasing options. These options aren’t usually the cheapest available. Instead, they are tailored to the wealth of the user and the place they live, resulting in higher prices for residents of wealthy neighborhoods.
That’s pretty smart, but VPNs offer an even work around these filters. By routing data through servers located in other countries, VPNs can make it look like customers are accessing from elsewhere. The booking sites will then deliver deals accordingly, often leading to big savings.
VPNs can make it look like customers are accessing from elsewhere.
If you choose to save money on hotels with a VPN, go for a VPN with a wide international server network, and shop around. You may need to try a few servers, but eventually you’ll notice the prices starting to come down.
#8 Pick a chain to stick with and reap the benefits
The other side to the hotel booking coin is to choose a chain you enjoy staying with and become a member of their loyalty scheme. Almost all major hotel companies operate this kind of scheme, from Hilton to Travelodge, and big discounts are always part of the package.
A bonus of loyalty cards is that they offer much more than discounts. Free breakfast, room upgrades, tickets for local attractions and sometimes access to special lounges and on-site facilities all tend to be features for loyal guests.
Fringe benefits can actually save a lot of cash
Your hotel may include free transportation from airport terminals, free food and free Wi-Fi.
When you book hotels, the choice you make can often reduce the cost of other aspects of your travel experience. For instance, some hotels offer free shuttles from airport terminals. This isn’t just less hassle than navigating buses or taxi ranks, it can be a huge cost saving as well.
The same applies to food and drink. Some hotels offer free breakfasts and take out boxes, which you can use to shave the cost off sightseeing. And they might have affiliated restaurants nearby which offer discounts for hotel guests.
Wi-fi is another consideration. Some hotels charge guests for their internet connections while others include it with the room rate. Check this before you book anything to avoid annoying extra fees when you get to your room.
All of these things might seem small in themselves, but if you add them together, they can represent significant savings.
Use technology, smarts, and traditional techniques to make huge hotel savings
All of these methods can help drive down the cost of travel. And don’t forget tried and trusted techniques like staying in mid-week, avoiding major holidays, and finding low-cost, no-frills providers.
The key to finding the best hotel prices is to keep all of your options available. Explore ways of using a VPN to book a hotel, sign up for loyalty cards, use room auctions, and set aside some time to find the best deal. When you’re relaxing on the beach, you won’t regret it.