Spring is here and that means it's wedding and graduation season. These occasions are very different, but they do have something in common: travel.
We all know traveling isn’t cheap, and you can rack up a hefty hotel bill rather quickly, but if you plan ahead, you'll save a bundle. Here are several ways to reduce your hotel bill when traveling:
Search for hidden discounts. Look online for current deals and promotions on hotels in the city you’re visiting, but remember that sometimes a bed and breakfast or a condo can cost the same or less than a traditional hotel, and you’ll probably get more free amenities.
[See the Best Hotel Rewards Programs.]
Visit different resources to compare pricing. Start off at a travel site like Expedia or Hotwire. Check as many sites like these as you can. After you find a good deal, compare it to the hotel’s main website because sometimes they actually offer the lowest price. Then check deals sites for special promotions and coupon codes. Remember, you never know which venue will offer the lowest price, and a little extra time researching is worth the money you’ll save. If you book through a travel or deals site, make sure to read the fine print about cancellation policies before you book.
Brag about special occasions. If you’re traveling for a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon or graduation, be sure to call ahead and talk to the front desk or concierge. Ask how they can make the trip special and they might throw in a free bottle of wine or another amenity. Don’t forget you can also take advantage of reduced group rates if you have a lot of friends and family staying at the same hotel.
Be flexible about travel dates. The cost of a hotel stay can vary dramatically from one week to the next. You never know if there are events going on in the town you’re visiting or how occupied the hotel is. The higher the demand, the more money the hotel will end up costing you.
If your vacation dates are flexible, it pays to research different travel times. Weekdays are often cheaper than weekends. This isn’t always true, but most of the time it costs less to take a trip Monday through Thursday.
Join a loyalty program. You will benefit from being part of a loyalty program whether you travel a lot or not. You can instantly enjoy benefits like free nights, upgrades and other fun rewards, as well as special discounts if you are a frequent guest. If your company is loyal to a particular hotel chain, mention that when booking. Even if you’re not on a business trip, you may still be able to benefit from the relationship.
Keep in mind that most hotel loyalty programs won’t give you points when you book through a third-party website, but some sites, like Orbitz, have their own loyalty programs.
Take advantage of other membership discounts. Being part of a club or working in a particular field can also help you save on your hotel stay. Call the hotel you’ll be staying at and ask if there are any specials for AAA or AARP members. Also let them know if you're a student, member of the military, government worker, non-profit employee or part of the postal service. You’d be surprised at how many companies give special discounts based on memberships and employment.
Look for packages. If you’re already flying to your destination, you can considerably reduce the price of your hotel stay by buying a vacation package. Get your flight, rental car and hotel reservation all at once through sites like Expedia.com, Priceline.com and Hotwire.com.
The best thing you can do to save money on your hotel stay is invest time. Research your options and don’t be afraid to ask for a lower rate or better room when you check in. Depending on circumstances, you might just get lucky. Happy traveling!
Offers.com has affiliate relationships with merchants mentioned in this article, including Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. Any purchase on their sites using Offers.com deals and coupons may result in a commission for Offers.com. The opinions and recommendations expressed here are those of the author alone.