Sightseeing, self-guided walking tours around the city, hiking to reach the peak of a lovely hill, visiting a museum, and swimming on a beach — all these memorable experiences that define your vacation are often free of cost. Sleeping in a hotel at the end of the day, unfortunately, isn’t. In fact, your accommodation usually makes a huge chunk of your travel budget.
So if you’re planning to travel, you might probably be thinking of visiting your target destination without putting too much cash into your hotel accommodation. You want the cheapest hotel possible but you also want a lodging property that’s safe, clean, and comfortable. Luckily, we’ve got a handful of tricks that will help you find the hotel you’re looking for… but you might need to break some of the travel rules you know.
From booking non-refundable rules to reserving a room last minute, here are 5 travel rules you might want to break to score the cheapest hotel room possible.
1. Travel rule to break: Book directly from the hotel
· Instead: Sign up for the rewards programs of booking websites
It only takes five minutes or less to sign up on a booking website but that’s enough to give you members-only savings.
Many booking sites like Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, and Agoda allow you to be a member of a reward program, where you can earn extra credit or free nights after a certain number of bookings. They also have members programs where you can earn exclusive discounts. If you’re worried about getting flooded with e-mails, you can go for a one-time sign up just to get a log-in ID and unsubscribe from emails afterward.
2. Travel rule to break: Stick with the hotel you know
· Instead: Use the best search engines and booking sites instead
Looking for the cheapest hotel in San Sebastian? While being loyal to a particular brand can give you discounts and perks (for instance, a free night’s stay on your fifth booking), you might be better off shopping around for even cheaper rates. This works if you’re not a frequent traveller or if you’re going to a different destination where your favourite brand isn’t located in.
Let the best search engines and booking sites work for you. If you’re paying with cash and you’re not loyal to a particular brand, third-party booking sites are perfect for you. They’ll give you more affordable hotel options in instances like last-minute deals, travel packages, non-chain hotels, and rental properties.
Take note that not all booking sites are the same. You should browse hotel options and compare prices using the sites that consistently have the best prices. These include (but not limited to) Expedia, Hotels Combined, Booking.com, and Hotels.com.
3. Travel rule to break: Only book a hotel room after you’ve finalized your travel plans
· Instead: Reserve in advance even if you’re unsure
Reserve hotels with free cancellation in advance to “hold” great rates, intentionally waiting for last-minute deals. It’s quite a gamble, but it will work if you do it right. Read the cancellation policy and check how long that is valid.
4. Travel rule to break: Look for flexibility in the cancellation policy
· Instead: Book a non-refundable hotel room
It’s quite risky to limit your flexibility and go for something you can’t back out from. But if you’re looking for the cheapest rates, many booking sites will offer an even greater discount if you book a non-refundable property.
You can even use services that allow you to book someone else’s non-refundable hotel room. One of the services is Roomer. Let’s say the original buyer had changed plans but is left with a non-refundable room he can’t use. By using Roomer, the original buyer can get some money back and you get his reserved room at a discounted rate — a win-win situation for both of you.
5. Travel rule to break: Book in advance
· Instead: Book the last minute
The golden rule on travel is to book in advance to avoid any hassle. But if you’re looking to score the cheapest hotel room, you’ve got to take the risk and break the rules.
It can be cheaper to book a hotel last minute, like a couple of days before your stay. Hotels partner with booking sites to avoid having vacant rooms. The only downside is you’re less likely to get the exact reservation you’re looking for, but that wouldn’t make a difference if you’re not picky and you need nothing but a decent night’s stay.