Most of us travel with a strict budget in mind, and no one wants to feel that they are paying too much for accommodation on holiday. Often it can be difficult to know whether or not you are getting the best deal, and as accommodation costs begin to add up, you are left wondering where most of your money has gone. However, there are several tips and tricks that you can use to make sure that you get the most out of your accommodation, find the bargains and reap the rewards. Spend some time investigating the best prices, special offers, and ask for extras and you’ll soon be saving money. Here are our top 8 tips to ensure you don’t overspend on travel accommodation during your trip:
- Take a look at offers through hotel associations.
You can find some fantastic deals and offers through The Leading Hotels of the World group (www.lhw.com) which will show you the best rates for thousands of hotels from every corner of the globe, as well as fantastic special offers such as extra nights for free.
- Be Savvy and book early
For many hotels if you book well in advance you are likely to get a better rate. Hotels, B & B’s, Hostels and even Campsites are often more expensive if you are trying to book something in the near future. Watch out for expensive times of year such as half terms and school holidays, as well popular dates such as Christmas and New Year where prices can soar. If you can avoid these dates you are likely to get a much better deal.
- Anyone for camping?
For the more outdoorsy types camping can be a great way to cut accommodation costs, and it doesn’t mean that you are slumming it. Many campsites now have excellent facilities with hot showers, and electric hookups. There are also plenty of alternatives to staying in a tent such as yurts, cabins and caravans which will provide all the comfort you need without breaking the bank.
- Become a Bargain Hunter
There are loads of great offers out there, but where do you find them? If you have flexibility with dates, sites such as Groupon (www.groupon.com) or Living Social (www.livingsocial.com) can offer great deals. Big tour operators are also a good place to look as they use accommodation only websites to sell any rooms that haven’t been booked, at hugely discounted rates. Try www.somewhere2stay.com or www.hotelroomsandvillas.com. Going through an online agent is also a great way to save if you are strapped for cash. Well established companies such as expedia.com and lastminute.com are good for getting the best deals if you can’t book in advance.
Make sure you look out for hidden extra’s too. Additional items such as breakfast in the morning can add anything from £10-30 per night to your bill, whereas if you venture out and find a local cafe for breakfast you can save money, and explore the local area too! Other hidden charges include the daily room tax that is often added onto European room rates at the end of a booking. Sites such as Tripadvisor (www.tripadvisor.co.uk) can be really helpful to travellers to ensure you get a good price, so make sure you check out reviews and comments before handing over your cash.
- Pay for your accommodation by offering to work
A popular choice for gap year travellers, friends and those on a tight budget, is to look for free accommodation, which you can get by paying in performing simple tasks and doing chores. This is a great way to save money. There are a few helpful websites which can guide you through the process. Try HelpX (www.helpx.net) and you can find a huge range of offers such as hostel work, farm work and gardening. The process is simple – once you have found something that suits, you can get in touch with your host and set up your stay without paying a penny. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is another fantastic organisation which sets up travellers with places to stay all over the world where they help out on the local farmland in exchange for their food and bed for the night.
- House Sitting
Housesitting is perfect for travellers who are looking for a home away from home on their trip. Here you will take care of the owners home while they are away, be it a short term stay while they are on holiday, or a longer term option for home owners who have gone away for work or to travel themselves. You would be expected to maintain the home and often there are pets that need looking after too. Trusted Housesitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com) is a popular site, it has an annual membership fee to join, but once signed up there are a huge number of properties available to chose from. Mind My House (www.mindmyhouse.com) is also worth a look.
- Try a hospitality exchange where you stay in someones home for a discounted rent, or even for free!
This is a great option for open minded travellers who want to really get to know the places they are visiting. Websites such as Couchsurfing are perfect for this as the put you in touch with a local resident who lives in the area you wish to visit. You can find locals who are willing to show you round, put you up or simply answer questions or give recommendations about their area too. Renting someones apartment is another great option that can be much less expensive then booking into a hotel. Airbnb (www.airbnb.co.uk) has thousands of apartments, houses and even cabins all over the world, so whether you are looking for a cool city pad, or a remote farmhouse cottage you will be able to find something that suits your needs, tastes and budget at fantastic rates. For summer holiday houses try Wimdu (www.wimdu.co.uk), or Roomorama (www.roomorama.co.uk) has a variety of houses, apartments and rooms available at discounted rates.
- Consider just winging it!
While the safest and best bet, particularly on luxury or group accommodation is to book as far in advance as possible, for the brave traveller there are often plenty of options to save money by simply arriving at your destination and seeing what you can find. If you are able to be flexible then in many countries, particularly Southeast Asia, prices can drop dramatically if you simply turn up rather then booking you stay through a hotel booking website. You can research hotel prices in the area, find ones you like and ask for the best rate. If hotels have rooms that are vacant on the night, they would much rather offer them at a reduced price, than have no one staying in them at all.