According to American Express, the average vacation costs $1,180. That number might not seem too exorbitant, until you realize it’s actually per person. Vacations are not essential to your survival, but they are an important part of living a well-rounded life, so even if you’re on uncertain financial footing, you should still enjoy your valuable time off–just find ways to save on every aspect of your getaway. For the most part, the media hypes prices and savings on airfares, but there are plenty of ways to conserve on the other major aspect of your vacation–hotels.
To ensure your next trip comes in under the average cost, read on.
1. Use Hotel Search Engines
Although there are several hotel search engines at your disposal, trivago is the largest in the world. It draws data from close to 200 other booking sites and has roughly 20 million visitors monthly. Its hotel price index function is perfect for last-minute trips, weekend excursions, and business travelers. It displays average room rates for the top 25 cities here in the U.S. and abroad.
2. Time Your Reservation
Traveling to a destination during off-peak periods is a built-in way to save on your hotel reservation, but going to Florida in the dead of summer for instance may not make for an enjoyable stay. Instead, look for dates in May, right before it heats up, or just after it begins to cool down in October. You may not get the rock-bottom cheapest rate, but you won’t be paying top-shelf prices either. Do some research on other tourist destinations and see when the right time is to book a cheap room during the off-season.
3. Use Deal of the Day Websites
If your travel plans are flexible, or are a ways off, sign up for a deal of the day website like LivingSocial or Groupon. These sites offer deals and discounts on a host of different products and services, including hotel reservations. If you’re lucky enough to find an offer in the city you’re visiting, you may be able to cut your costs by 50% or more.
4. Join AAA
Invest in a AAA membership (plans and prices vary) and depending upon the hotel you choose you could qualify for a discount of as much as 50%. As an added benefit, most of the rooms you book via your AAA membership are refundable should you need to cancel.
5. Negotiate at Check-In
Once you show up to check in, that’s a great time to negotiate a discount. Inquire about occupancy rates and if you see an empty parking lot, ask if there’s a discount. Be sure to do so politely and respectfully – if you come off as arrogant, you can forget about getting a reduced rate. Another way to get a better deal is to ask for a room upgrade. Just understand that the best time to do this is after 6pm when the hotel staff has a good idea of the higher quality rooms that are available, if any.
6. Get the Amenities Thrown In
If you plan on staying at a resort that charges extra for on-site amenities such as a gym, WiFi, or even late checkout, inquire about getting these extras tossed in for free. Your chances of scoring this deal improve if the occupancy rate is down, so be sure to inquire no matter what kind of discount you’re after.
Before you even begin your search, it’s important to figure out the type of vacation you’re taking and ultimately what you need out of your room. If you’re going on a trip to Paris and need a place to lay your head at night and not much more, then you only need to search for a budget room. However, if your plans are to take an all-inclusive vacation, then obviously you’re going to want a hotel or resort that has everything from food and entertainment to kids’ activities and a pool. This won’t necessarily save you any money, but it can sure cut down on your time spent searching for the cheapest room.
What ways can you think of to save on a hotel reservation?