Want to save money on accommodation for your next family trip? Follow my fool-proof tips below and you are guaranteed to save hundreds!
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Book accommodation that meets your needs depending upon your trip type
For us, the sort of accommodation we book depends on the kind of travel we are planning. If we are only sleeping at the accommodation and are spending our days exploring what a city has to offer – then we book the cheapest (yet comfortable) accommodation, we can find. For these sorts of trips, I am not worried about whether there is a pool or a lovely view – I just want to know that we have beds to sleep in, in a clean basic room.
However, if we have a relaxing holiday where we are staying in one or two places for the entire time then we will book something a little bit fancier and will ensure that there are nice facilities at the accommodation like perhaps a pool, nice view from the room and enough space in the room to be comfortable for relaxing in.
This is one area you can save hundreds of dollars straight up! I don’t understand why people book fancy accommodation but they are never there. Just book accommodation to meet your needs for your particular trip.
Check the location of your accommodation
Regardless of what sort of holiday we are having, I always take into consideration the location of the accommodation. For example, once I have the itinerary set, I want to know the following:
- How far away are places to eat and shops?
- How far away is the bus stop or train station?
- Is there is a beach or playground nearby?
To answer these questions, I jump on TripAdvisor TripAdvisor and check out people reviews – usually they will comment on the location of the accommodation. Most people on TripAdvisor want to help – so if you have a specific question about a place you are thinking of booking – just ask them. I also always look up the accommodation on Google Maps and factor in the walking distance to various locations.
You need to take into consideration the answers to the above questions, because if your accommodation is isolated you are going to be spending quite a bit of money on transportation getting out and about. This, of course, is not so important if you have car hire during your trip. So while it might bit be heaps cheaper to stay a little out-of-the-way – you need to factor in the additional costs you will spend on transportation and your time if this is an issue.
Stay in small hotels or homestays
To get the most out of your travel, we recommend staying in small hotels or homestays. There are two reasons for this – firstly this is usually the cheaper option – but secondly, this way you really get to experience what the country has to offer by being closer to the action rather than being on the 20th level in some hotel room.
With Airbnb, you can find smaller hotels or even rooms in locals houses and be close to the action, get a feel for the way the local people live and interact with locals daily. Usually, these places are also more flexible with check in and check out times and will go out of their way to take care of you – treat you like a friend rather than a customer.
Compare prices on various websites
Once I have decided on a place I want to book, I look through the usual booking sites to see what price they are offering the accommodation. Comparing sites like TripAdvisor, Hotels Combined and Trivago help with this process. I also simply google the name of the place and usually find where else it is advertised which may well not be on the usual comparing sites.
Similar to airfares, the exact same accommodation could be on different sites for very different prices. I recently saved $200 AUD (for 5 nights) for accommodation in Bali by finding the exact Villa on a local site in Bali. Also one site might offer free wi-fi and / or breakfast while another site doesn’t but the price is the same – be sure to check these things out. Another aspect to keep in mind is that certain credit cards offer rewards for booking travel-related services such as airfare, rental cars, and most importantly, accommodation.
I use booking.com quite a lot for booking accommodation. They offer accommodation of all sorts of standards. The great thing about booking.com is you usually don’t have to pay upfront, so you can book in your accommodation but change your mind later without any penalties. This is also great if you find your accommodation cheaper somewhere else. Booking.com is very competitive and I find most often it offers accommodation at the cheapest rate.
Check out websites local to your destination
Always try to find local websites at your destination that offer accommodation. In New Zealand, we found bookabach has many more options than Airbnb – but it’s the same concept.
In Hawaii, we used vrbo which is also like Airbnb. In Hawaii we also used a local holiday rental agent for accommodation. Using these two ways of booking our accommodation saved me heaps and even gave me better options than what I found on the bigger well-known sites.
So do your research and find out how the locals are booking their accommodation at your destination – it could save you hundreds and give you better options.
Don’t book directly with the hotel (this is true for most occasions but not always!)
The most common misconception is that booking directly with the hotel is the cheapest option. WRONG!!! 9 times out of 10 this is not the case!! The other problem with booking directly with the hotel is they usually are inflexible with changes and expect payment upfront. In contrast, sites like booking.com let you change your dates and even cancel your booking without penalty.
Please note this is not always the case and I recently booked accommodation for the Holiday Inn (in Bali) and it was much cheaper to book direct and I also got to earn some loyalty points too – but this is not generally the case.
If you do your research – you will be able to see what is the cheapest option in booking your accommodation.
And lastly – Don’t use the minibar – EVER!!
Not even joking!!!!! These things are a ripoff – so don’t ever use the minibar!!! Ever!!! Unless you’re dying of thirst or hunger after a long flight!! Buy your own drinks and snacks from the supermarket and put them in your room. Not that we often stay in the type of places that have minibars – but if we do – we always empty out the fridge and cupboard of the minibar items and put in our own. Before we leave, we put all these minibar items back.
Follow these tips and you are sure to save money on accommodation every time!! And let’s face it, the more you save, the quicker you can go on your next trip.
Check out my other tips on ways to save money on your next trip.