Out of all travelling costs, accommodation is the expense that sucks up most of the budget — particularly for hotel dwellers. Here are 10 insider tips for stretching your accommodation budget without having to sacrifice the quality of your accommodation. This means more money you can spend on activities and travel experiences.
1. Travel off-season. Price hikes generally occur during the tourism season and over holiday periods. In particular, avoid travelling during school and public holidays. Lodging costs for places like Europe can increase exponentially during the height of tourist season, so it’s best to travel either slightly before or slightly after summer — either May or September in the case of Europe. You will still catch the beautiful weather if you time it properly. Chances are, it will be better than the weather you are leaving behind in Australia!
2. Stay mid-week. Hotel prices generally peak on weekends, so if it is possible, time shorter trips for mid-week periods. You might have to weigh up the trade-off of taking the extra time off work or forgo your first choice of accommodation and stay somewhere else over the weekend period.
3. Don’t hotel jump. Most hotels will offer long-term discounts for multiple night stays, so don’t be afraid to ask if this option is available to you.
4. Balance advance planning with last-minute booking. As soon as you know where you are going, start hunting for good accommodation deals, but remember that plenty of discounts are offered at the last minute. If you can deal with the uncertainty of operating like this, organise your stay for at least the first few days and chance it for the rest.
5. Join loyalty clubs. Many hotels have membership and rewards clubs that offer discounts, offers, upgrades and extras to frequent customers. You may also find that your existing memberships to loyalty and rewards clubs already give you discounts for certain hotel chains.
6. Book packages. You can save a lot of money when you combine your flights with your accommodation; sometimes with discounts up to 30 per cent. Be flexible in your attitude as to where you stay, but most package options will be close to tourist attractions regardless.
7. Consider the entire hotel experience, including proximity and inclusions. You may pay more for the extra facilities and location, but this might save you in the long run in transport and entertainment costs. Select an area close to tourist attractions and a hotel package that includes airport transfers. It also helps to be close to some cheaper food options and supermarkets so you aren’t reliant on the hotel restaurant. Ensure you find out exactly what your accommodation package entitles you to. Over the course of a week, one free breakfast per day really adds up.
8. Combine business and pleasure. Some organisations are flexible in allowing their employees to tack their annual leave on to business trips, which could potentially save you a couple of nights’ expenses and perhaps even a portion of your flight expenses. Generally it doesn’t cost the business anything additional for you to bring your partner along.
9. Split costs. Share accommodation with a close friend or family member, particularly if one of you is happy to take a sofa bed or you are open to sleeping in twin beds in the same room. Alternatively, a two-bedroom suite won’t usually cost anywhere near the same amount as two separate hotel rooms. If you are travelling with others, enquire about group discounts.
10. Be open to mixing it up. Weigh the cost of hotels verses motels, and explore alternate accommodation experiences in terms of big-name brands and local, smaller operations.
About the Author: Tammy Wilson is a contributing writer and enthusiastic world traveler. Tammy spends a minimum of four months of every year globetrotting. You name it, she’s been there!