Hi everyone! Excuse the quietness around here last week as I just returned from vacation! As some of you know, my wife and I love to travel. When we got together we vowed to take at least two trips per year. Preferably one we had already been to and one new one. We have kept this tradition for almost 6 years now. Now that we have our son, we are that much more excited to continue as a family! Now I decided to write about the tricks and tips to saving money on hotels WITHOUT sacrificing quality. This is my motto. So if you’re like me that like the finer things in life but are not immensely wealthy, well this is for you! Or perhaps you just simply want to make sure you add tools to your already money savvy skills.
Once I know my destination, I start with a smart travel search engine such as Tripadvisor.com But isn’t it just a review site? NO, you can now search and book you’re traveling arrangements! So for example purposes I’ll refer to my most recent search for San Diego hotels. I type in a specific location. My wife was VERY specific and wanted to stay on Pacific Beach beachfront. So I typed Pacific Beach, and no less than 4 star hotel. This is a personal preference obviously. But I have to tell you, it’s because by using my method, it will cost you the same if not cheaper than the 3 star crappier hotel choice (trust me, there’s a reason why hotels are star rated and yes it’s very accurate.) Then I sort by distance. What’s awesome about Tripadvisor is that is will give you a rate for every major traveling engine such as hotels.com, expedia.com, booking.com etc. You’ve condensed your search immensely.
Research. This is crucial to getting the best deal. Don’t just look at the cheapest price. Consider, is there a parking fee? WiFi fee? Resort fee? These add up and may end up costing you more in the end. Look at pictures from the people who have actually stayed there recently. (Another awesome thing about Tripadvisor if you aren’t familiar.) It’s not just professional photos from the hotel but real people. That leads me to my next tip…
Read the reviews! Tripadvisor started as the guru for reviews and it still is! Never ever ever ever book a hotel without first reading the reviews from people who have stayed there recently. For example, I would have never known majority of the hotels in San Diego at least the area I was staying in, do not have air conditioning! But it is 73 degrees there you say? No no no. Many reviewers stated how hot and muggy it got inside the room that they have to sleep with the screenless windows open in order for it to be tolerable. I would have not known this if I hadn’t read them. So I narrowed my search further to require AC. P.S. I lowered my room AC to 74 degrees in order to be comfortable during my stay.
Alright so you narrowed down your search and chose the best hotel for the best price that fit your requirements/must haves. Great! Now you’re going to go to the hotels direct website and see what they offer the same exact room you want. Often hotels don’t allow internet site to sell their rooms directly through them so you’ll want to see are theirs cheaper? Regardless of whether it’s cheaper or not, you’ll want to check from a different electronic. For example if you were searching from your cell, go look using you lap top/tablet. If you were on your computer go look on your cell phone. Allow me to explain the trick of the trade. Websites will give you mobile only prices automatically. Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they are not. For example, the resort I stayed in said 20% mobile discount for the room rate. But through a regular computer, it offered me a cheaper AAA discount which was cheaper than the 20% mobile one! Yup same dates, same room! But you are still not done!
The last step in to call the hotel directly. Sometimes they will have a room that they don’t sell online because of multiple factors. For example remember the awesome AAA discount I found through my computer? Well because I waited too long, when I went back to book it, it was gone. So when I called I was offered the same room, different view for $40 LESS! Nowhere was this particular room offered online much less at that price.
So why not just start directly with the hotel you say? Well because it’s not always cheaper. Many times it is not actually. But you are triple checking to make sure you are getting the BEST price. And you would have never narrowed it down to that one hotel if it wasn’t for your Tripadvisor so don’t skip the steps, lol. So if it’s not cheaper through the hotel directly just simply go back to Tripadvisor to book the most affordable rate.
But wait! You’re not done, I have one more trick up my sleeve. Remember when I told you an awesome part of Tripadvisor was that they give you the rates of other traveling websites as well? Well many of them have promo codes! Open a new tab and do a quick google for “hotels.com promo codes” or Travelocity.com promo codes.” At the time I was booking, hotels.com had 16% off code. So while on Tripadvisor, I would have just selected hotels.com, entered promo code and booked literally the choosing cheapest rate. You know for sure, you did your research!
If you have a credit card you can also check to see if your points will bring down the price. Through my American Express Travel, most hotel prices are inflated therefore it is a waste of points. It doesn’t hurt to check though.
So remember: Tripadvisor.com, reviews, website directly both on computer and mobile, call hotel directly and Google promo codes. Go on and book your next vacation! Share this with someone you know will appreciate it as well.
Do you have similar tips to save money when booking a hotel? Let me know in the comments. Also you see a few pictures of my San Diego vacation on instagram. Follow me for day-to-day updates.