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20 Hotel Hacks To Save You Money On Your Next Trip

20 Hotel Hacks To Save You Money On Your Next Trip

You might plan your vacation based on your destination or schedule, or perhaps around the activities you plan to pursue once you arrive. But no matter what inspires your vacation choices, your hotel can make or break your trip. The trick is to find a clean, comfortable room with the amenities you consider most important for a price that won’t put a dent in your plans. These hotel hacks can ensure that the hotel that you choose for your next trip will be easy on your pocketbook. If you’re a frequent traveler, check out this huge list of amazing travel hacks!

1. Book Your Room and Flight Together

Travel-related services like Expedia or Travelocity often feature incredible discounts when you book your flight and hotel room together. However, there are a few catches: One is that you have to pay for everything in advance. Another catch is that cancellations or changes can be an expensive prospect. While this may hamper your travel flexibility a bit, if you already have firm dates in mind, this might be the hack for you.

2. Join AAA (Even if You Don’t Own a Car and Never Drive)

Many hotels—both within the United States and abroad—offer significant discounts for AAA members. If you travel frequently for pleasure or for business, or even if you take one big trip each year, your savings could more than pay for the price of a membership. Also, if you plan to drive abroad, AAA is one of two organizations within the United States authorized to issue International Driving Permits, which not only make it easier to rent a car abroad, but can sub for your passport if you’re asked for ID while visiting another country.

3. Make the Most of Your Elite Status

Holding elite status for one or more hotel loyalty programs can qualify you for perks like early check-in, late check-out, free breakfast and free room upgrades. You’ll also find that if you hold elite status, the management and staff are often more receptive to your special requests, such as waiving those ridiculous charges for the hotel mini-bar.

4. Negotiate Long-Term Rates

If you’re planning a trip of at least seven days, inquire about discounted rates for extended stays. You may be able to book an extended stay rate online, but you’re more likely to receive discounts by contacting the hotel directly. You may have to pay in advance, but many hotels will allow you make weekly payments on your balance.

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5. Take Advantage of Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Unless you churn credit cards on a regular basis, you may be unaware of the perks that often go along with obtaining a new credit card, such as free companion airfare or deep discounts on hotel rooms. You’ll need decent credit to take advantage of this hack, along with sufficient lead time to receive your card and register for your bonus(es).

6. Get Status Matched Across Hotel Loyalty Programs

If you have elite status with one hotel loyalty program, reach out to other programs to request matched status. More often than not, you’ll receive a positive response. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to achieve elite status – many hotels belong to chains or groups, and staying a certain number of nights in a mid-range chain is often enough to allow you to gain elite status across the entire chain.

7. Book Your Room During the Off-Season

If you have your heart set on visiting Europe during the peak season, brace yourself to pay sky-high airfares and hotel rates that may keep you awake at night. But if you’re willing to plan your trip during the off-season, you can save big bucks. If you book a beach or outdoor vacation during the shoulder season—the period immediately before or after the peak season—you’ll still save while enjoying most of the benefits of good weather.

8. Book Directly Through the Hotel

By calling an individual hotel directly, you may receive “off the books” discounts or upgrades. One phone call can translate into savings that really add up. This is especially true if you book during the off-season, when many hotels have rooms standing empty.

9. Search Foreign Hotel Sites with Incognito Browser Settings

Try this experiment when booking a room outside the United States: Open a hotel’s website in your browser as usual. Then, open a second incognito or anonymous browser window and load the same hotel’s website for the country you plan to visit. You may find that the rates offered through the hotel’s foreign website are much cheaper than the rates offered on the domestic website, even allowing for foreign transaction fees.

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10. Offer to Write a Review

If you’re active on Trip Advisor or Yelp, mention this to the hotel manager, and offer to write a review of your stay. If you’re a travel blogger, offer to write a blog entry. Don’t bribe the hotel by promising a positive review; that’s dishonest and a reputable establishment will turn you down. Likewise, if you blog about the experience, making a full disclosure that you received a discount is expected.

11. Get Payback for Prior Subpar Experiences

No hot water in the shower during your last stay? The front desk failed to give you a wake-up call and you missed your return flight? Posting a polite but firm complaint directly to the hotel manager or to the hotel’s marketing department will often result in vouchers for discounted rates or free upgrades on a future stay.

12. Use Hotel Booking Aggregator Sites to Compare and Contrast Rates

Just like airfare aggregators that compare flight prices for different airlines, hotel booking aggregator sites like Trivago and Kayak allow you to compare prices for hotel rooms across many different sites. All you need is to know where you want to go along with a range of possible dates. You’ll save both time and money—a definite win-win!

13. Bring a Cooler, a Hot Pot, Plates and Utensils

Room service can add significantly to the cost of your hotel. Packing a cooler, a hot pot and disposable plates and utensils allows you to shop locally and save a ton of money by “cooking” in the room, even if you don’t have kitchen facilities. Most hotels are OK with guests bringing in their own food, but if you’re not sure, ask before you arrive.

14. Give the Hotel a Heads-Up About Special Occasions

Are you planning a destination wedding with a ceremony at the hotel? Is your entire extended family gathering for a reunion? Provide the hotel with a heads-up and you may receive a deeply discounted group rate or a free upgrade to the honeymoon suite.

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15. Ask for a Better Room

Sometimes the simplest way to receive a break on your hotel room is to come right out and ask for an upgrade. If you’re not bold enough to take the direct approach, a more subtle approach is to ask to see different rooms before you check in. You’ll spare yourself from being booked in a dingy room facing an alley that’s no cheaper than the nice room across the hall facing the skyline.

16. Skimp on Amenities, Not Location

When your budget is tight, you recognize that you have to give up something to stay within your hotel budget. But if you have to choose, skimp on amenities rather than location. A plain (but clean) room within steps of the beach or that provides easy access to downtown is a much better bargain than an upgraded room located an expensive cab ride away from everything you want to see and do.

17. Sidestep the Hotel Laundry Service

Many hotels offer the convenience of laundry service—at a hefty price. Save yourself big bucks by taking advantage of the laundry located within your room. Rinse out your pantyhose and other unmentionables in the bathroom sink, and then hang them across the shower rod to dry overnight. Just be sure to pack a travel size package of your favorite detergent.

18. Insist on Free Wi-Fi

If you’re traveling for business, Wi-Fi access is a must. Even if you never plan to check your work email, Wi-Fi access allows you to operate your smart phone without risking expensive data overages. Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi to all their guests; others restrict the perk to guests with elite status.

19. Stream Your Favorite Shows to the Big Screen TV from Your Computer

The cable service in many hotels leaves much to be desired. That said, many hotels offer really nice flat screen TVs. If the hotel has Wi-Fi service for individual rooms and the TV set features an HDMI port (which is likely), you can stream your favorite Netflix shows to the TV from your computer, tablet or smart phone via Google Chromecast.

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20. Book Refundable Rates and Check Back Often

Nonrefundable rates are often much cheaper than the “best available” or even discounted AAA or AARP rates. But don’t be fooled. Besides being nonrefundable, that low rate may actually turn out to be more expensive than the rate you could ultimately receive. Book the best available refundable rate for your room instead, and check back periodically for discounts or hotel promotions.

Rest Easy!

While some of the hacks listed above require fairly clever maneuvering, many require little or no effort. With a bit of pre-planning and flexibility, you may find yourself in a great room at a great price. You’ll have that much more money to spend on souvenirs.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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