There are lots of tricks you should learn before traveling that will help you save on accommodation. Certainly, you can use credit card points to help you earn free nights at hotels, but when you have a longer trip, sometimes these nights won’t be enough. Here are a few tips for how to save on accommodation.
Airbnb– AirBnb is a website that allows you to find accommodation at an actual home in the place where you are traveling. They have locations in over 190 countries. You can either choose to stay in a private room, where the owners also reside, or you can pick a place that offers the entire home. This concept is similar to Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) and is an excellent way to save money and experience an authentic lifestyle while traveling. Airbnb can be a money-saver on the cost per night, but it can also help you save on meals by having access to a kitchen rather than dining out. If you prefer to have a concierge, room service, or special amenities like a pool, spa or maid services, Airbnb might not be for you. But, if you prefer to stay in a place and live like a local, Airbnb is a great solution. Another tip for flexible travelers- Airbnb your place too, while you’re gone, to make some extra cash for your travels! New members can get $25 off their first stay with this referral code.
Hotels.com– This website and app is very user-friendly, and aggregates most of the hotels in cities across the world. You can book ahead or even just a few hours in advance of arrival, and with a user profile, you can accumulate hotel stays. After 10 nights of reservations using Hotels.com, your next night is free. This can be very helpful to travelers who are planning an extended trip, or for corporate travelers who have to stay in hotels often during the week.
HotelTonight– An app and mobile website that searches for discounted last minute hotels rooms (tonight, tomorrow and next week). Hotel Tonight works with hotels around the world so that when they have unsold rooms, they can load them onto the app. All of the hotels and rooms are screened, and the company is growing, so more cities are being added every day. From HotelTonight’s website: “Our all-mobile platform allows you to reach the ever-growing number of guests who are choosing to be more spontaneous about their decisions.”
Free Nights with Hyatt– If you are planning a trip to a beautiful city, odds are there’s a Hyatt hotel nearby. Opening a Hyatt credit card can save you money on accommodation and provide free nights at beautiful hotels across the globe. Make sure to read this post from Points Guru, Drew, first, but if none of the warnings apply to you, consider opening a Hyatt credit card to earn two free nights at any Hyatt hotel, worldwide. When you open a Hyatt credit card, you earn the two free nights after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening the card. The card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees and you also get one free night at a category 1-4 hotel each year on the anniversary of your card membership. Plus, you earn points on all purchases- 3 points on every dollar spent at Hyatt properties, two points per dollar on restaurant, flights, and car rental purchases, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. There are some incredible category 1-4 Hyatt properties, including the Andaz Costa Rica, the Park Hyatt in Canberra, Australia, the Park Hyatt in Mendoza, Argentina and the Hyatt Regency in Paris, France. You can also use a combination of cash & points if you don’t have enough in your bank to pay with just points or just cash.
Hostel World– This website is great for backpackers who just need a place to crash. Hostelworld works with over 30,000 hostel properties worldwide, and provides reviews and photos so you can check out a place before booking a bed or a private room. Sure, it’s nice to be spontaneous while backpacking, but having a room booked when you arrive a new place is a good feeling, if for no reason other than to have a chance to lighten your load. Hostelworld guarantees your booking, has no booking fees, and even offers deals for group bookings of up to 9 travelers. The site is also mobile friendly, making it quick and easy to book a hostel from your phone.
Groupon Getaways, Living Social Escapes & Jetsetter– These sites often sell package deals to getaway locations and include airfare, accommodation, activity passes or meals (or a mix). Groupon Getaways has several categories based on the type of vacation you’re desiring, so it’s worth it to research these deals. Living Social Escapes often packages hotel stays and activity passes, which can be practical if you’re planning a spa trip or a family excursion. Jetsetter sells hotel deals and vacation homes, and they’re usually luxury properties. All of these deals have fine print, so it’s integral that you read carefully before booking. Fees might not be included, and there might be blackout or expiration dates, so read the print to understand the total cost of the package. Like any sale, these deals are meant to be enticing, but make sure that buying what you want, rather than paying a lot for extras that don’t matter to you and your travel buddies.
Couchsurfing– Find locals that live in your destination cities and reserve a couch, spare bedroom or air mattress to crash on. Couchsurfing.com requires that you first fill out a profile with information about yourself, and then you can to explore the site for accommodations in the cities where you’re traveling. The Couchsurfing community has over 10 million members, and in addition to accommodation, the site also lists events such as language exchanges, dances, hikes and dinners. It’s a great way to travel authentically and save some cash.
TRUST THE LOCALS! Whenever you’re traveling to a new place, make sure your network knows about your destination(s). You never know who might live in the place you’re traveling, and who might be willing to lend advice, offer a spare bed, or take you out for drinks or a meal. Meeting locals- no matter how distant the connection- on the road is a great way to better understand a place, the people, and the culture, and can truly enrich your travel experiences.