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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 August 15, 2018

30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

Summertime can be a real strain on your wallet. The sun is out, there are people to see, places to be; it’s no wonder you might be short of funds during these sunny months. Not everything has to cost you an arm and a leg.

Take some time to go through this list of 20 cheap summer activities and make some realistic goals to complete as many as you can.

Video Summary

1. Visit a strawberry festival

Summer is prime time for tasting strawberries. More often than not, an area that grows strawberries will have a strawberry festival. Indulge yourself in strawberry pies, jams, cakes and more!

2. Have a picnic

Take your partner or your family to the local park and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Designate each person to bring one food item of their choice to add to the fun.

3. Camp in your back yard

    The summer heat can sometimes make it hard to sleep. Why not enjoy the heat outside in the yard? Pitch a tent or gaze into the night sky.

    4. Take long walks

    Discover something new where you live. Take the afternoon off from your chores and go for a long walk. You may be surprised by what you discover.

    5. Break a world record

    Breaking a world record doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You could even break one on your lunch hour. Give it a go!

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    6. Go on a bike ride

    The number of bike paths on roads in big cities has increased dramatically over the years. Take advantage, and enjoy the summer breeze.

    7. Join a gym class

      The gym is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but why not go with a friend a join a class? Spinning, yoga and step classes are always more fun with friends, and a lot of gyms allow you to pay-as-you-go.

      8. Find a new hobby

      The summer is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Serotonin (our body’s natural “happy” hormone) is produced by the sunshine and will be at a yearly high, which is great for when we want to tackle something new.

      9. Join a sports team

      Not all sports teams are competitive and require huge amounts of your time. Join in the fun with like-minded people, get fit, stay healthy and make some friends along the way.

      10. Make a slip ‘n slide

        Gather your friends, some plastic sheeting, a hose, washing up liquid if desired, and make a huge slip ‘n slide just like these guys. Granted, yours won’t be as big, but you get the idea… it’s fun!

        11. Make a treasure hunt for your kids

        Today’s digital world sees our children more often than not playing inside than outside. Why not create a sense of adventure by making a treasure hunt? Only rule? It has to be outside.

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        12. Visit a free festival

        Towns and cities are awash with free festivals, with themes from film to science. Scout your local area and discover something new.

        13. Visit the zoo

          Let’s face it: we love animals. While browsing news websites and social media networks you’re bound to come across a few pictures of cats. Take a trip to your local zoo for a better experience.

          14. Take a road trip

          Enjoy the open road with a few friends and take a road trip somewhere–anywhere. Just go out and enjoy the sunshine!

          15. Play ultimate frisbee in the park

            Frisbee is always great fun down the park, but why not turn it into more of a competitive sport by playing ultimate frisbee?

            16. Make your own ice cream

            Ice cream is a very versatile dessert. Make a sandwich, enjoy a cone, or simply just enjoy a bowl full. Better yet, making your own ice cream allows you to create any flavor you want.

            17. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ

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              When was the last time you invited your neighbors over? Do you even know them? Now’s your chance. Just ask each person to bring a food item so costs don’t mount up for you.

              18. Get a summer job

              For many students, summer is the time for relaxation and fun. But who said earning money and being productive isn’t fun? You only get out what you put into a situation.

              19. Attend a charity event

              Attending a charity event is a great way to raise funds and awareness for a cause, meet new people, and generally have a good time. Search for your local charity event today.

              20. Visit a national park

              National parks are a great way to explore nature and learn something new. You could even volunteer and make a difference in helping restore natural habitats.

              21. Visit your local comedy club

                Local comedy clubs are extremely underrated. They are cheap to attend and no doubt you’ll have a barrel of laughs.

                22. Make your own hammock

                  Hammocks are very relaxing, are perfect for summer afternoons and are surprisingly easy to make.

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                  23. Read in your new hammock

                  Now you have your very own hammock, the only thing left to do is enjoy it. Grab your favorite book and read to your heart’s content.

                  24. Watch a movie outside

                  Movies are great. Relaxing outside in the evening is great. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect combination. In D.C, Maryland and Virginia this summer, for example, you can enjoy a huge number of movies outside.

                  25. Take a hike

                    Hikes are a great way to keep fit and see more of Mother Nature. There are countless trails available for you to explore. Why not try some this summer?

                    26. Learn how to fly a kite

                    As a child, you probably had a kite and haven’t touched it since. Why not dust it off and attempt to fly it? It’s tricky, but well worth the challenge.

                    27. Work out at the park

                    American cities are full of parks with ample space for a work out session. No doubt you’ll be happier to work out in the sun rather than a crowded gym.

                    28. Take your dog to the beach

                      One of the many joys of owning a dog is taking him or her for long walks during the summertime. This joy is enhanced when visiting the beach, for both you and your dog.

                      29. Make a summer smoothie

                      Healthy, delicious and perfect for the summer. Not only that, there are countless recipes ready for you to try.

                      30. Attend a free yoga session at the beach

                      No experience needed and all skill levels are welcome. Take yourself and a buddy down to the beach and try some yoga. You’ve got nothing to lose!

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