More than just a place to lay your head each evening, accommodation while travelling makes up the bulk of our costs and, so, is vitally important! I’m also a bit of a stickler for good sheets and a squeaky clean bathroom so I spend a significant (almost embarrassing really) amount of time researching hotels, hostels and homestays to find a pristine place with an attractive price tag. Here’s a list of websites, but some of the tricks and hotel booking hacks we use to find that perfect room and yet still travel on a low budget.
Hotel Booking Hacks
Contact the hotel
Nowadays most rates from booking sites can be matched or even beaten by going directly to the property itself. Hit up their website, email or call them – most times you’ll save a few bucks. Plus, if it’s part of a chain, you could get reward points!
Try to ensure you always use your browser’s incognito mode to ensure your search history doesn’t affect the prices you see! By going ‘dark’, you will sometimes benefit from cheaper rates since some websites – definitely one of our top hotel booking hacks!
Get a deal based on the day
Boutique guesthouses are often cheaper in the week than on the weekend, or corporate hotels struggle to find guests on weekends, once their business travellers have checked out. Book the right profile of accommodation for the day of the week.
Subscribe for savings
Get in on the rewards program of the bigger sites (booking.com, trivago, expedia etc) and you’ll receive membership rewards and exclusive discounts. Remember to unsubscribe from emails though, to keep your inbox clean.
Mine those mystery deals
I love a mystery, and a mystery deal is even better! A ‘mystery deal’ is when the hotel’s name is only revealed after you book, and usually means a pretty hefty discount off their usual rate. Priceline do these well. However, many mystery deals can be ‘guessed’ before booking! Try Better Bidding and Bid Goggles to try to predict the venue.
Try the sharing economy
Booking accommodation is no longer just about hotels and guesthouses. The sharing economy has brought us heaps of options including home rentals (Airbnb and Homestay are good examples), Couchsurfing or even housesitting (try TrustedHousesitters or Nomador).
A few more hotel booking hacks
- Use Roomer. You buy up someone’s hotel room that they booked but can’t use (and was non-refundable). Everyone wins since they get some money for the room and you get a bargain rate!
- Price Alerts. Since up for price alerts if you know which dates or hotels you are looking for, and have time to wait for the right rate to appear.
Apps to download
Hotel booking apps
Depending on your booking site of choice, it generally makes sense to download the app version, to allow for much easier booking and amends. Personally I love the Booking.com app since it allows me to change or cancel bookings easily, I can see all my locations in one interface and, handily, I can contact the venue and see any message history with them; ideal if they’ve organized a taxi, shuttle or even an experience.
Similarly, I’m a member of heaps of reward and loyalty programs, like Hilton Honors. Instead of carrying my loyalty card with me (space is limited), I like having the app available which has my membership card handy.
Because we use such a range of sites to find our stay, it can get a little confusing. I’m a HUGE fan of TripIt, which brings together all your flights and hotel bookings in one simple app, for free! The easiest way is to connect your email address and each time you receive a booking confirmation or new flight, it updates in TripIt. A must-download and a true hotel booking hack J.
Websites we use
Agoda – Without doubt our go-to site. We find that Agoda really offers amazing options especially if travelling in Asia. And we love that you get Agoda cash for your bookings, as full time travellers we make savings every time we book.
HostelWorld – It’s great to meet fellow travellers along the way and hostels offer you this, even if you decide to go luxe and book a private room and bathroom, like me. HostelWorld has clear reviews, pictures and trustworthy ratings.
Tripadvisor – Again, the holy grail. I have a few uses for TA including researching recommendations of experts I follow or to get a second opinion on a property I’ve found somewhere else. Tripadvisor is great for price comparison.
Lonely Planet – while we’re big fans of the old written guides, the LP website nowadays can be a bit of a maze. That said, they have an affiliation with booking.com so that when you do find a property on a Lonely Planet list, you click through to booking.com. The bright side? I generally always find the LP version of booking.com is a few euros cheaper than the site itself.
Hotel Tonight – Need a last-minute deal? Definitely our booking website of choice. Because it’s last-minute, there are usually pretty hefty discounts off listed price but, of course, inventory can be a little limited.
Airbnb – Really a favourite for most, Airbnb offers options that rival the best hotels, at attractive rates. I think it offers great options for longer stays, particularly when you prefer cooking for yourself.
If you have any more tips that you’d like to share, comment below or get in touch with us here.
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