After traveling for work for ten years and a nine month trip around the world, I’ve collected some strategies for traveling cheaper. I’ll cover them in a ten part series in this order:
A. The flight
– How to Book the Cheapest Flight
– How to Use Free Flight Stopovers
– How to Find Alternatives to Expensive Flights
– Finding the Cheapest Airport Transportation
B. The Hotel / Accommodation
– How to Book Cheapest Hotel Rooms
– How to Find Hotel Alternatives
– How to Use Hotel Points
– How to Get Local Currency for Your Trip
– Avoid International ATM Fees!
– Know How Much Things Cost
How to Book Cheapest Hotel Rooms
One thing we learned during our trip is the importance of your hotel towards the satisfaction of your trip. Sometimes saving a few bucks by staying in the cheaper hotel further away from the action meant sacrificing our experience, but luckily there are some ways to save money by booking the cheapest hotel rooms at great hotels.
A. How to use Hotwire and Priceline
Both sites allow you to save on your hotel cost by either “bidding” for the hotel (Priceline) or by selecting discounted hotel rates for hotels that remain anonymous until you’ve booked it.
Hotwire and Priceline can both be very intimidating because you don’t want to get stuck in some crappy hotel, but luckily there’s a decent way to figure out which hotel you might land in. Better Bidding allows you to review high level hotel information in Priceline or Hotwire and match it up with the hotel that you’ll most likely get! The site has the most information on US sites, but there are some international cities that are decently covered.
Let’s go through a quick example which we actually used. We wanted to go to Las Vegas for a weekend trip and wanted to stay in a cool hotel. We started at Hotwire and used the interactive map to narrow our choices down to 3-5 stars and within the “Strip – South Area”. This will require a little bit of research from you to figure out where you actually want to stay, but we knew we wanted to be in the south strip area so we started there.
After you define your filters, Hotwire will provide the list of offering hotels. Based on the descriptions of the hotels, you then need to match them up with descriptions on Better Bidding to try and confirm which hotel you’ll get. You can also post on their forums to ask their experts to confirm your hotel.
When we used our Hotwire/Better Bidding strategy on our Las Vegas trip we got Caesar’s Palace for $149 per night when their site was advertising $199 per night! Thanks to Better Bidding, I knew which hotel we were booking on Hotwire before I confirmed it so the savings were pretty easy. Also, we used a trick that probably only works in Vegas – when I handed the check in agent a $20 dollar bill and asked if he could upgrade us to the Augustus Tower – which he happily did!
B. My favorite hotel booking sites
If you don’t want to play the Hotwire/Priceline game, you can go the next best route by looking a various search engines. Our main hotel reservations sites were Agoda and Tripadvisor and here’s why.
Tripadvisor turned into our go to booking site by the end of the trip because they show prices from quite a few booking sites. We also love the site because it offers a ton of reviews which we usually found to be pretty accurate for the hotels we stayed in. However, there were always reviews that seemed fake (either too good or too bad) because Tripadvisor will let anyone review the site and some people took advantage of it to build their hotel up or tear other hotels down.
Our second favorite site was Agoda; they don’t show prices from other search engines, but we think their reviews are the best because they control who can review the hotel by only allowing people to review the site if they’ve booked a stay at the hotel through Agoda’s site – very smart! We also liked Agoda because they give you “points” for reservations and hotel reviews which you can convert into “dollars off” when you earn enough. We saved $75 US thanks to our Agoda points!
As you can see above, I think it’s very important to thoroughly review your hotel before choosing it. Tripadvisor and Agoda have always proven the most accurate for us, so that’s what I’d recommend.
Do you have any recommendations on how to book the cheapest hotel that’s still great? If so, add them in the comments!