relax—not worry about how much your hotel accommodations will cost you.
After reading about how to find great airfare deals
in TravelMuse’s previous Travel Tips column, read below for how you can
save money while you sleep so you can spend more of your vacation money
- Book off-season or for slow periods during the week, and be flexible with dates.
If your destination is a top spot for weekend traffic, go during the
week. Popular family travel summer spots slow down significantly after
Labor Day. You can usually find deals for Europe in winter (except for
the holidays or popular ski destinations) and for the Caribbean and
Mexico during summer months.
- Book online.
Most aggregate travel sites have partnerships with suppliers that are
linked in to tens of thousands of hotels around the globe. Some sites,
such as TravelMuse, offer a best rate guarantee. You’ll get a wide
variety of choices, and can find discounts of up to 50 percent off
regular rates, or more.
- Snag lodging away from the city center, or look for small, local independent chains.
Bed and breakfasts offer personalized service and accommodations,
usually at lower rates than centrally located hotels. Smaller chains
often provide safe, clean accommodations, and have lower rates because
they don’t advertise. One colleague recently found a little-known hotel
with a high user rating in Berlin for a mere 42 euros per night, 48
- Use points. Sign
up for credit card, airline and hotel reward programs, especially if
any are partnered, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your points can
add up. Some airline reward programs even let you use air miles for
- Take advantage of European discounts and equal euro-to-dollar offers.
European hotels are trying to lure U.S. tourists back by offering deep
discounts, and in some cases, allowing guests to pay euro or British
pound rates in U.S. dollars, for a 1-to-1 exchange rate.
- On a related note: Follow the economy.
If European hoteliers are offering discounts because U.S. tourism is
down, odds are the same holds true for domestic properties. Because of
all the media play on people either cutting back on their vacations or
staying home, hotels are offering last-minute summer deals in an effort
to fill rooms and make their sales quotas. Look for rate discounts, gas
card offers, even reimbursement for newly added luggage fees.
- Look for hotels that let kids stay for free and eat for free or at reduced rates. You’ll save a bundle on food costs per child.
- Don’t ignore the little perks.
Free breakfast on its own may not sound like much, but when you add to
that free parking, free pizza and soda, free movies and coupons off
admission to nearby attractions—sometimes valued at 25 or 50 percent
off—you’ll see big savings.
- Request a room with a kitchen, or consider condo or apartment rentals.
Preparing our own meals can significantly reduce your overall vacation
costs. Also, apartment rentals are often located away from tourist
hotspots—also known as tourist traps—so you’ll have a more authentic
- All-inclusive resorts and cruises, and packages are in. Packages
that cover airfare, lodging and food at the get-go take away the
headache of budgeting once you get there. Mexico and the Caribbean have
many popular all-inclusive resorts, which are great for families
looking to save. Just make sure you check the fine print for any extras
not covered. Basic air and lodging packages can also offer huge savings
while still allowing dining and entertainment flexibility.
- Check out national tourism Web sites.
You can find deals on lodging, dining and entertainment tickets offered
through your host city’s or country’s tourism association.
- Housing swaps.
An option for those looking for super cheap (even free, in some cases)
lodging options, families literally swap houses for a week, two
weeks—whatever the agreed-upon timeframe—and each benefit from the
experience. Some online housing swap organizers charge a nominal fee
for using their database to find suitable arrangements. Here are a few
Don’t have a friend who lives in Tuscany? Well, it just so happens your
friend’s sister’s host family from her study abroad college days
does—and they love visitors. You never know who you are connected to,
so ask around!