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Where you sleep at night is one of your major fixed travel expenses, so learning how to save money on accommodation will help you keep more money in your pocket for spending on activities and experiences.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and website resources these days to help you find safe, practical and value for money accommodation.
For us traveling with our two young kids, it’s not always about finding the cheapest accommodation deals, but getting the BEST VALUE for our money! We don’t like to rough it as much as we used to pre-kids.
How you travel and spend your dollars is totally up to you, but we all need a place to sleep at night and we may as well get the best accommodation deal as possible.
Your choice of accommodation will depend on your:
Getting 15 percent off a room you don’t want isn’t always better than regular price at a room you do want!
Our goal is to help you save money on accommodation and get the price you want, at the place you’re happy with.
The style in which we personally travel has evolved from solo travel, to traveling as a couple, to now being a family of four. So our accommodation preferences have changed as well.
Depending on the length of the trip and the destination, we’ll chop and change between accommodation styles.
As a traveling family, if it’s longer than a weekend getaway we prefer to stay in apartments. They offer several benefits:
These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable.
If you are on an extended trip around the world, consider spending more of your time in countries and regions where your money travels further, and when visiting the expensive countries lower your accommodation standards.
There is no point choosing your accommodation if it is miles out of town and you have to pay extra in transportation costs. Stay in a central area close to public transport, airports, local attractions, food outlets, the beach, the park, and the ability to get out and walk to most things.
This will help you save money on accommodation and save on time!
Many accommodation providers offer their best deals when you stay more than one night. Often we’ve had deals like stay 4 nights, pay for 3. Especially in the off-season.
Many hotels receive Friday and Saturday night accommodation bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from their business travelers, so there can be a void on Sunday nights meaning possible lower prices.
In certain locations like Las Vegas, and our own big cities in Australia, avoiding the peak Friday and Saturday night periods is a strategic way to save money on accommodation – so avoid the big cities over a weekend if possible. We’re stunned by how much the prices for accommodation can rise on the weekend – some places triple.
One of the obvious tips on how to save money on accommodation is by traveling in the shoulder season, that time period between the peak and off-peak season. Accommodation costs will be lower, the weather will still be favorable and in popular destinations you’ll avoid the large crowds which makes sightseeing easier. And you’ll also save money on flights and car rental. Win-win!
For example, in Europe consider visiting in May or September and avoid the July/August summer peak season.
This is our favorite strategy for saving money on accommodation, particularly for families or small groups.
Apartments and rental homes are a great way to save money on accommodation. They are usually cheaper and more practical than a hotel. If you’re traveling with other family members or another couple why not get an apartment big enough and share the cost?
My parents visited us often on our trip around Australia and we stayed in apartments with three bedrooms which reduced our per-night rates, and was much cheaper than two separate hotel rooms especially considering we had a full-kitchen to self cater on meals.
Staying in hostels may not be a great option for the USA due to the lack of quantity and quality, but in places like Australia, Europe and Asia the network is extensive and the quality is ever increasing. Don’t think of hostels as just dorm rooms for backpackers. Many offer private and family rooms.
Hostels in major cities are located close to public transport and tourist sites. A private or family room is typically cheaper than a hotel room and they generally have cheap and free services such as wi-fi, a laundry, luggage storage, fully-equipped kitchen facilities, and local tours. Hostels can also be a fantastic way for meeting fellow travelers, as well as a way to save money on accommodation.
Read the hotel reviews! Like all accommodation types, some properties are better than others.
Smaller towns nearby to your destination or staying slightly outside of city centers will almost always save you money on the cost of hotels and apartments. If you don’t mind the short commute you might save a bundle.
But as mentioned in point #1, be careful that choosing accommodation far away from the attractions you plan to visit doesn’t result in high transportation or parking costs, or precious time. Research the area’s public transportation system!
Book a room in advance at the best rate you can find online, then keep an eye on prices to see if you can get a better deal at another property, or even at the same hotel.
For example, Booking.com offer free cancelation on most rooms. And their book now, pay later at check-in system allows you to lock in that rate with some flexibility. Just check the booking conditions per room type and you’ll have piece of mind when booking through them.
Again location is key when choosing accommodation, so make sure you have access to local cafes and restaurants. When staying in a major city it will almost always be cheaper to walk to a nearby cafe or restaurant than dining in the hotel, unless you get free breakfast as part of your booking.
If you do eat in, does the hotel have a restaurant with reasonable prices? Does it have a kids menu? Does it have room service? Does it cater to your dietary needs?
Does your accommodation have free WiFi, free airport shuttle, free breakfast, free cable TV, laundry facilities, a pool, BBQ areas, private rooms with en-suites, a tour booking desk, 24-hour reception?
Is there a fridge, microwave, coffee machine? A fridge and microwave can be great for storing and reheating leftovers which saves money on eating out. This is great for families storing milk, juice and yogurts and other kids breakfast items to have on hand first thing in the morning.
All these features add up when you’re trying to save money on accommodation!
Who are you traveling with? Can you share beds to cut costs per head? For our family of four, we require two double beds, or a queen and two singles. If you have a baby make sure a portable cot is available and for free!
Always ask about discounted family rates, free meals for children, and an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.
If you frequently visit the same hotel chains or booking sites, join their rewards or membership program. We can’t say which is the best program, it depends on your travel frequency, how and where you travel, and what your priorities are. For example, are you more concerned about free nights or extra perks? Or do you want to experience luxury at good prices?
To maximize your earnings in any rewards program, charging your hotel costs to a credit card tied to the rewards program is essential. All cards will give you bonus points for spending, and the best cards will also give you instant elite status in the hotel program, which means more bonus points.
Check the program and benefits for your particular credit card, you might be able to use your points for accommodation costs. In Australia, we have an American Express card through the Commonwealth Bank that allows us to use our reward points for booking travel.
Go and “LIKE” your favorite search sites on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. It’s getting more and more common for sites to release hot deals directly through their social media channels.
Subscribe via email to your favorite booking sites. They often distribute deals and special coupons only to their email subscribers and members.
When searching for cheap accommodation deals, use a different browser or go incognito before looking up prices a second time on a particular booking site. Websites store your search data and when you come back they know you are more likely to book as a repeat visitor and will charge you more.
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17+ years now, and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that help us to save money on accommodation and time in searching! When searching for accommodation deals online, down below are the trusted websites we personally use.
To be clear, if you choose to book through one of our preferred partners we will earn a tiny affiliate commission (at no extra cost to you) and you’re helping to keep the lights on at yTravelBlog so we can continue to bring you awesome travel tips and inspiration!
If you’re on a short trip and desire a central location, a little comfort, and you don’t mind eating out, hotels are an obvious choice.
Our favorite hotel search website is Booking.com, who have over 600,000 properties worldwide in 200 countries, and they’re still growing daily.
Besides having all the major brands, you can find a variety of low-cost independently owned hotels that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
We find their website and interface user-friendly and the other nice features we like about the site include:
Using their search box is simple. You can search via destination or hotel name and choose the number of rooms and adults / children.
Once you’ve chosen your destination and dates you can then filter your search by:
The other handy feature that Booking.com has is the 48 million verified reviews. Only people who have booked through Booking.com and stayed at the property can write a review as they receive an email once they have checked out.
That means their reviews come from real guests, like you!
You can even filter your search results based on reviews broken down into categories like:
To read reviews on a property and see the score breakdown simply click on the review score.
On the topic of reviews, pay attention to what is important to you as a traveler. Look at the good reviews, look at the bad reviews, and try to find threads of consistency. If many people are complaining about one thing in particular, then that’s probably a good indicator that the hotel has a problem with that!
Another great feature of the booking site is that you can search for properties broken down into themes such as:
Hotwire is particularly great for last minute deals. If you care less about a specific hotel brand and more about wanting to save money on accommodation, consider shopping the anonymous hotel inventory on Hotwire.
You won’t know which hotel you’re staying at until it’s booked, but you can request the general location and quality (three-star, four-star, neighborhood etc).
One of the great deals we’ve got on Hotwire was a 4-star hotel right in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans for $50 a night.
As mentioned apartments are a great way to save money on accommodation and often work out cheaper than a hotel room, particularly when you factor in the savings of cooking your own meals and sharing with other couples or friends.
As a family using apartments is our preferred accommodation choice. It is a fantastic option to save on money by not eating out every night, and great for children as they get their own room.
AirBnb is a site we used often on our trip around Australia as a way to get low-cost apartments, or even rent out peoples entire homes. This one deal in particular, we got in Western Australia for a 4 bedroom house was exceptional.
AirBnb are in 180 countries world wide and offer a great way to connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay, whether you need an apartment for a night, or a home for a month.
You can book entire apartments or just spare bedrooms, allowing you the choice between having the place all to yourself or staying with and getting to know the owner. Even if you never meet your host, you’ll get to feel more like a local.
If you are new to Airbnb, we have a $32 credit voucher for you when you sign up here.
Booking.com also have a great inventory of apartments to help you find the best deal, wherever you travel. Again you can filter your search results based on what’s important to you.
Click on the image below and check out their featured apartment destinations:
Before we had kids, we stayed in hostels often to save money on accommodation. Not only are they a great budget sleeping option, but good for meeting like-minded travelers. On occasion, we still stay in family-friendly hostels but only in private or family rooms.
You can choose to either pay for a dormitory room in which you’ll share with other guests, or you can pay for private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. It depends on your budget, comfort level, and whether you are solo, a couple or a family.
Booking.com also have a large inventory of hostels around the world. Click on the image below and check out their featured destinations:
House-sitting is a perfect option for anyone considering long-term travel, but can also work for those interested in a week or two away. You live rent free in exchange for looking after someone’s home and if they have them, pets safe.
We haven’t used the housesitting strategy yet via an official membership site, although we did sign up for a few at the start of our big Australia road trip.
To be honest, we’ve found the competition and flexibility required difficult to land a house-sitting job. Many of the house-sits were in outer areas, and we didn’t want to visit these locations for the sake of house-siting.
You also need time to organize it, or be super flexible to move on a whim. With kids and a business, and a country the size of Australia, it proved too difficult for us to commit to apply for that awesome house-sitting job in Perth in 4 months, or last minute.
In saying that, if you are very flexible on your locations, are retired or semi-retired, work a digital business, or are on a working holiday I totally get the value this can provide.
Our blogging friends, Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels have also written an excellent housesitting guide – How to become a housesitter and see the world.
Pete and Dalene have been travelling the world for years following the housesitting strategy so know what they are talking about. They’ve had 14 house-sits in 9 countries, and saved over $50,000 in the cost of accommodations as a result.
That’s pretty awesome. Who says you need thousands of dollars to travel?
Hopefully, the above strategies and resources will help you to save money on accommodation for your next trip and get you the best value your money can buy.
Please share this page with a friend and fellow travel lover and help them save money on accommodation too!