How to Find Cheap Travel Accommodation [101 Travel Tips]
One of the most important things about traveling is finding cheap travel accommodation (next to finding cheap flight tickets). Travel accommodation can get very expensive, quick especially if you’re booking hotels.
This is part of my series 101 Travel Tips & Hacks to help you travel cheap and save money.
Below, I’ll show you exactly how I find the best deals for cheap travel accommodation.
(my 4 star hotel in Kuala Lumpur under construction but $30/night)
I’m going to start with hotels for short-term travel. Although hotels may not be considered cheap accommodation, it’s certainly a standard of choice for most travelers.
Hotel prices vary widely in different cities and in different seasons. I’ve seen hotels shoot up prices 50-100% due to large events.
But I’ve also seen hotels cut their prices by over 60% due to remodeling or construction.
1. Gauge Hotel Costs Always try and do this before you book your flight, especially if you’re flexible with travel dates. Special events may cause hotel prices to soar over 200% like what happened with the 2017 Solar Eclipse event.
I usually start with Priceline or just Google hotels in the location you’re traveling to get a gauge of approximate prices of hotels.
(Google’s nice quick, hotel search)
2. Express Deals Priceline’s Express Deals are quite awesome actually. Although they won’t tell you exactly which hotel you’ll get until you book, you can still know the guest rating, amenities, general location, and even bed choice before you book.
You can also bid on hotels which take a bit more time but it’s worth it if you’re flexible.
3. Hotel Modesty If you are budget conscious, 3.5 star hotels is usually the highest you should go. A lot of 4+ star hotels have a lot of extra costs such as parking fees, resort fees, maintenance fees, etc. Since the fees are per day, those expenses can really add up quick if you’re paying $20-30 extra per night.
4. Hotel Location Always take into account the location of the hotel. Particularly overseas, some locations that are hard to get to will add significant costs if you need to take a cab there.
I generally try and find hotel within 30 minutes of where I’ll mostly be. Anything beyond that, you want to avoid if possible.
5. Check Hotel Amenities Hotel Amenities actually make a big difference. If you normally eat breakfast, a free breakfast saves you money. Free parking saves money as opposed to paying up to $20/day. Gyms (if you want to get some exercise in each day) will save you money. Free wifi will save you money as opposed to paying for it.
Pictured: Free & Included Breakfast buffet in Hanoi. Breakfast buffets are very common in Asia.
6. Hotel Loyalty Rewards Most hotels have great loyalty programs and nice bonuses and perks if you use their credit card. Perks include free anniversary night stays, free upgrades, and free nights.
A lot of credit cards give free anniversary nights just for having their card. Don’t forget to use them!
7. Credit Card Points – Credit Card points also have awesome redemption value for hotels. SPG, Hilton, IHG, Marriott are just a few hotels you can transfer Credit Card points to redeem for hotel night stays. The more luxurious and costly the hotel, the more likely your points value will go up.
I’ve stayed in hotels for virtually free on several occasions. Here’s an example on my really cheap travel accommodation in San Antonio.
Okay, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get off the topic of hotels… There’s just so much to cover just for finding cheap accommodation with hotels.
For those looking to find alternatives to cheap travel accommodations,
8. Try Airbnb I’ve stayed in plenty of Airbnbs and they’ve all been very pleasant. Considering you can check reviews, it’s easier these days to find a great host at an excellent price. Often, you’ll also get a more “local” experience over staying at a hotel.
Pictured is a private room I booked near NYC for $25 a night. You can read more about my trip to NYC here.
9. Consider a Hostel: Staying in a hostel is one of the cheapest ways you can travel. Though you’ll likely be sharing rooms with other people, you’ll inevitably meet a lot of strangers along the way. But that’s part of the fun of traveling! Just do your due diligence in checking reviews and use reliable sources like http://www.hostelworld.com
In Europe, I met a lot of other travelers in hostels. They also became great business connections that I have now from all over the world.
10. Consider a Work Away If you’re planning to travel more long-term and want to get free accommodations, you can consider a work away where you volunteer to help with various tasks (e.g. teaching English, helping with chores) to get free accommodations wherever you’re traveling to.
Considering accommodations are usually around $40-50/day you can easily save over $1000/month this way. Again, just do your due diligence and use reliable sources like www.workaway.info
11. Stay a Night at the Airport This sounds a bit insane but if you’ve never slept at an airport, you need to try it just once. You can donate the $80 you save to me! But really, sleeping at airports is awesome. Though not the most comfortable, it’s quite adventurous and you’ll be able to relate better to almost every traveler out there.
Note I would NOT recommend doing it more than two days in a row. I’ve stayed overnight at airports around the world including in Tel Aviv, London, Bangkok, Singapore, and more.
Picture is a photo of my sister sleeping at Denver Airport from our trip to Yellowstone National Park.
There you have it, some of the tops ways I’ve used to book cheap travel accommodation.
What about you? What cheap travel accommodation tips do you have to find the best deals and save money?