Part 1: Finding Frugal Accommodations Part 1.
- Hotelcoupons.com This brochure can be picked up at Travelor Information Centers at state borders on Interstates. They advertise hotels – both chains and mom-n-pop businesses at (significant) discounted rates. The “catch” is that these rates are for THAT NIGHT only. To take advantage of this, I will make calls while we’re driving down the road, then make a reservation right before we arrive in town. This works well for impromptu trips or the last night of a road trip when we really don’t know WHERE we’ll end up stopping for the night. The website has good rates, but not as low as those in the booklets (probably because they’re ‘last minute’ reservations).
- Call hotels at various times of day: In Finding Frugal Accommodations Part 1, I suggested calling hotels directly (rather than at the 1-800 Call center #) however, in addition to that, make that call during different shifts (daytime vs. nighttime) to speak to different managers. The “financial” manager’s goal is to increase the bottom line, and he/she best does that by filling rooms! Don’t expect to get a room for a “steal”, but you can sometimes get a small discount. Begin the conversation by asking “What is the BEST rate you can offer me?”
- Check out Vrbo.com or it’s sister company Home Away: These are Vacation Rentals By Owner….They are privately owned condos/vacation homes rented by their owners…These used to rent without the added processing fee of an over-seeing rental agency however, recently they have started assessing a fee. It’s still a better deal than resort pricing, but that fee IS assessed. 😦
Traveling off-season as we do, we have gotten some excellent rates at VRBO properties over the years. Several years ago, we rented a 2 bdrm condo in the FL Keys from a couple living in Minnesota who purchased it for retirement income (when they retired to Florida). While they were still in Minnesota, renters were making their mortgage payments every month. Ingenious!! 🙂 We thoroughly enjoyed their condo with its balcony overlooking the water. With these rentals, you deal directly with the owner, often having a long conversation with them as they ascertain if you are trustworthy, honest, “clean” ha! before handing over the keys to their property. Lately, I’ve found a few properties that allow you to ‘self-clean’ the unit and save the cleaning fee. This is a nice savings if you have time to clean on your last morning. Of course, the biggest bargain of a condo is the abiltiy to prepare meals. Great savings!!
- A room with a microwave can also save money on snacks and meals. Microwave everything from popcorn to easy meals that can be heated. 🙂
- Groupon and Living Social :have accommodation certificates for hotel/resort stays. My experience is that these can be challenging to use…there are lots of restrictions, but I still check them out. Someday, if I find one that fits our needs, I won’t have a problem purchasing it Check out Vacation By Groupon for more tips/details on purchasing Groupons for many areas of vacation planning but ALWAYS read the fine print on these before buying. 🙂 .
- Hotels such as Extended Stay America are a great bargain. These hotels are “no frills”, but are usually clean and standardized in their amenities and rooms. Sign up for their loyalty program for discounts on stays as short as 2 nights. There are even deeper discounts for stays of 7 nts or longer. They will send emails (FREQUENTLY) when you sign up so I usually to that before we’re traveling, then unsubscribe afterwards. However, the savings is worth the time that takes. Of course, the REAL savings is the ability to prepare meals as they have a full kitchenette (stove top, fridge, microwave, coffee pot AND dishes/cookware) Recently, they’ve begun offering a VERY BASIC continental breakfast (packaged items and coffee) too.
Other Topics of Interest:
- Budget Traveling 101
- Reading Between the Lines on Hotel Reviews
- Vacation By Groupon
- Cruises: Finding Bargains and Booking