- Hotelcoupons.com Pick up this brochure 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. It is rare that we don’t have reservations when traveling…however, occasionally happen on impromptu weekend trips or on that last night of vacation when we don’t really know how many miles we’ll be able to cover that day. 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. 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 privately owned condos/vacation homes rented by their owners…These used to directly by owners so there was no processing fee. That is no longer the case. Now, they are ‘managed’ by VRBO and there is an additional fee added to all rentals. It’s still a better deal than resort pricing, but figure that into your price. 😦
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 They purchased it to provide for their retirement income…and were renting it out in the meantime – renters made their mortgage payment. 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. I LOVE the savings of being able to prepare meals!
- A room with a microwave can also save money on snacks and meals. Microwave everything from popcorn to easy “heat up” meals. 🙂
- 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. 🙂 .
- There are several hotel chains that specialize in units with kitchens or kitchenettes. By far, the most economical I have found is Extended Stay America. It’s usually “no frills”, but 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 do that before we’re traveling, then unsubscribe afterwards. However, the savings is worth the time that takes. Of course, again, the REAL savings is the ability to prepare meals. Now, in the past they have not offered a breakfast (rooms have a kitchen after all) however, 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