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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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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

“How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

  • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
    • food
    • rent/mortgage
    • cell phone
    • insurance
    • socializing/entertainment
    • transportation
    • hygiene products
    • household bills
  • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
    • travel
    • clothing
    • medication (*depends)
    • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
    • gifts

Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

Save Money on Food

1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

2. Buy the store-brand version

Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

4. Have group dinners

If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

Save Money in Transport

5. Get a bicycle

Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

7. Find the cheapest gas

Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Save Money in General Shopping

8. Shop online

Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

9. Sell your old stuff

Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

10. Bulk buying stores

For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

12. Generic brand medication

More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

Cut Down on Household Expenses

14. Printing

Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

16. Shop around for insurance

Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

18. Don’t get a TV

Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

20. Have house parties

Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

21. Open festivals, meetups and events

It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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22. Volunteer

If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

23. Housesit

There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

24. DIY beauty

French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

  • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
  • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
  • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
  • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
  • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
  • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
  • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

More Tips for Personal Finance Management

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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