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How to Get the Best Hotel Deals

How to Get the Best Hotel Deals

I’m a big fan of comparison websites. They allow you to compare all your options and prices on one screen without having to spend hours researching prices on different websites. In some cases, like car rental, comparison sites can work out really well, with no booking fees, cancellation fees and no payment up front. But when it comes to hotels and accommodation, do comparison websites really get you the best deal? Before you book your next vacation, read this guide to make sure you don’t get ripped off!

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Family at the hotel check in

    Tips to get the Best Hotel Deal

    • Comparison sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com are good for doing initial research and comparing your options.
    • Once you narrow down your choices to the hotel (or few hotels) that you would like to stay at, head to the hotel’s own website to see if their price is the same. Often they will have extra room types or prices that they don’t supply to comparison websites.
    • Look on the hotel’s website to see if they have any special deals or coupons.
    • Watch out for booking fees and credit card fees. This is not exclusive to the comparison sites; some hotels also charge for this.
    • Check cancellation and amendments policies before you book. This applies to both comparison websites and the hotel’s own website. Check to see if they charge you a fee for amending or canceling bookings. Your travel insurance may cover this, but it’s easier to get your money back straight from the hotel.
    • Check what’s included in your room rate. Some places will include things like Wi-Fi internet and local calls. Ironically, it’s usually the expensive five-star hotels that charge for these things like a wounded bull!
    • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Try calling the hotel and see if they can offer a better price, room upgrade, or throw in some extras. This can work well if it’s close to the date and they still have plenty of rooms vacant.
    • Some people swear by bidding sites like Priceline, and others hate them. If you want to give it a shot, Gadling has an excellent guide on how to game Priceline to get the best deal.

    Resort Pool

      Let’s Look at a Real Life Example

      The following example is searching for the same hotel on various websites. In each case I’ll choose the cheapest available rate and highlight any extra costs for the booking. The hotel I’m looking at is in Australia (my home country), but I’ve tried it for several different countries around the world and got similar results.

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      Two nights (weekend) at the Mantra on Queen in Brisbane, Australia.

      Hotels.com
      Room: $298.00
      No credit card or booking fees
      Free cancellation until two weeks before the arrival date
      Total: $298.00

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      Wotif.com
      Room: $298.00
      Credit card fee: $5.50
      $25 cancellation charge up to two weeks before the arrival date
      Total: $303.50

      Mantra.com.au
      Room: $248.00
      2% credit card surcharge: $4.84
      $25 cancellation charge up to two weeks before the arrival date
      Total: $246.84

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      As you can see, even with the credit card surcharge, the hotel’s own website worked out cheaper in this case, as they had rooms that were not advertised on the comparison websites. I should point out that Mantra is quite a large chain of hotels in Australia, so they have some strict terms around cancellation and other fees. I’ve found that if you’re booking at much smaller independent hotels or B&Bs that you can often negotiate much better rates by going direct.

      Do you have a great tip for booking accommodation? Leave your best tactics in the comments below! And before you plan your vacation, don’t forget to check out my guides on getting the best deals on car rental, and how to take great travel photos!

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      Last Updated on June 20, 2019

      50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

      50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

      Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.

      1. Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
      2. Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
      3. Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
      4. Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
      5. Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
      6. Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
      7. Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
      8. Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
      9. Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
      10. Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
      11. Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
      12. Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
      13. Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
      14. Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
      15. Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
      16. Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
      17. Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
      18. Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
      19. Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
      20. Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
      21. Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
      22. Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
      23. Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
      24. Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
      25. Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
      26. Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
      27. Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
      28. Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
      29. Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
      30. Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
      31. Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
      32. Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
      33. Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
      34. Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
      35. Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
      36. Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
      37. Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
      38. Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
      39. Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
      40. Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
      41. Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
      42. Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
      43. Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
      44. Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
      45. Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
      46. Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
      47. Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
      48. Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
      49. Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
      50. Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.

      There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.

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      Featured photo credit: Omar Prestwich via unsplash.com

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