So you’re going on vacation! That’s awesome! It is definitely time to take a few days off. You’ve put in the time at work, home, and school, so you need a break. But your budget accommodation doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.
Don’t worry, you can still getaway without spending all your savings. I’m here to help you navigate the crazy world of booking and share a few tricks to ensure you’re not spending more than you need to. Keep in mind that you may have to be flexible and your trip may require some dedication to finding the right deal. But it will be worth it in the end!
1. Book During The Week
If you’re going to take the time off, then hit the road at the beginning of the work week. Hotel rooms in popular destinations tend to be less expensive Sunday night through Thursday. It’s simple logic really. Everyone is getting away on the weekend, so hotels raise the weekend rate as they know people are willing to pay the price.
What’s even better is you’ll find that flight prices mimic this trend. So if you book weekday travel then you should end up saving money on hotel rooms and flights! Some people are limited to weekend escapes, but you’re a savvy trip planner with a flexible schedule, so booking during the week is no problem for you!
2. Stay Off Season
Staying off season somewhere doesn’t mean you have to change the time of year you travel, it just means you should consider someplace that isn’t currently inundated with tourists. Try New York City in the January and enjoy ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza. Fly to Scottsdale in June and relax at the amazing spas and cabanas. Explore Seattle in November where the National Parks never close and the weather is always temperate. These cities don’t shut down and are just as fun (and less crowded!) in the off-season months.
You’ll find that with less tourists there are cheaper hotel rooms, which means more money to spend on fun activities and local flavors.
3. Avoid Holidays
This probably isn’t news, but it can be hard to avoid. We’re all tempted to use long weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day as a good time to take vacation. Well, everyone else feels the same way, and hotels have caught on.
Prices tend to spike on holidays, especially long periods of time off like the time leading up to New Year’s Eve. You’ll find prices are higher on holidays for not just hotels, but flights. Instead, use Labor Day weekend as a time to explore your local area with day trips within driving distance. Save the vacation savings for other times of the year when finding a hotel room isn’t as competitive and prices fall.
If you just have to travel on the holidays then consider off-season destinations!
4. Live Like A Local
Think beyond the traditional hotel room and look for alternative lodging. Websites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway offer cabins, apartments, homes, villas and even castles (that’s right!) for rent over any number of nights. What’s great about this option is you can spend the night closer to town or further away – you decide! You can even find accommodations large enough for you and your friends or family, allowing you to save money while getting more space, closer together. An extra bonus is having access to a full kitchen so you can save additional money by cooking your own meals instead of eating out.
If you’re looking to make money while you’re away, you can even list your place on one of these sites. The same way you want to see another city, someone wants to see yours!
5. Sign Up For Price Change Alerts
We all know about the countless number of online booking sites like Travelocity, Booking.com, Kayak, Expedia….the list goes on and on. If you’re like me you search and you compare prices, but then you may walk away to buy at a later time. Then when you come back the price has changed, but not necessarily in your favor.
Luckily, many of these sites have features you can sign up for that let you know when flight prices for your specific date has changed. They’ll even forecast out the right time to buy based on your specific parameters, such a date, origin, destination and number of desired stops.
Make these sites work for you! Use their trip planning features to ensure you get the best price possible.
6. Sign Up For The Loyalty Program
If hotels are always your choice when travelling, then it’s time to sign up for those loyalty programs! Major hotel chains like Marriott, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Choice Hotels, Hilton and Wyndham Hotels own a large number of the hotels throughout the US. You may not realize the Comfort Inn or the Homewood Suites or the Aloft you stayed in are owned by larger parent companies that are happy to reward repeat customers.
Signing up for a loyalty program can be the best way to reward yourself on future trips. You’ll earn points for each stay depending on the price of the room, location and hotel. Those points add up quickly and are easily redeemed for future vacations. Since these hotel chains are everywhere you shouldn’t have a hard time sticking to just one or two favorites. I belong to several of these chains’ loyalty programs and have scored countless free nights over the years. It’s a 3 minute sign-up worth a lot of money!
Sometimes you have to be somewhere at a certain time. Family reunions, weddings, baby showers…I get it. But when it comes to planning a getaway there’s never a right time, you just have to do it. Luckily that allows you to be flexible on your dates and time of year, so you can plan the perfect, inexpensive vacation. If you approach your trip planning with the right mindset then anything is possible! Now let’s get away!
Written By Hilary Byrnes from LifeofTravels.com