FIND CHEAP HOTELS
HOW TO FIND CHEAP HOTELS
Get Amazing Deals on World Travel
By Ken Faught
I have travelled a little more than 1.5 million miles in my lifetime, and it’s been an amazing journey. A while ago I calculated that I have spent over 1600 days away from home (nearly 4 ½ years), and it’s been an eclectic mix of world-class resorts and sleeping in the front seat of a rental car in my youth. I’ve done 50-mile hikes with a backpack tent camping for nearly two weeks straight), slept while rolling in Class A diesel-pusher motorhomes, and stayed in budget hotels from coast to coast.
Along the way I have learned to hunt for the best bargains in travel and how to get the best hotel deals. I have read all sorts of stories on free stays and dirt cheap place to overnight like hostels ($5-$30 per night), but that not what Vanessa and I are all about. We’re into finding the best value on nice places, and identifying the right time to travel in order to maximize our experience, avoid crowds and save money on vacations.
Finding the best deal on hotels for your ultimate vacation is not that difficult with a little education. Check out this story to learn how to save money on vacation travel.
Best Travel Websites For Finding Cheap Hotels
We typically spend a lot of time comparing hotel prices on several websites. We look at a variety of date options and check both the individual hotel prices and also package deals that include room, airfare and rental car. We also check for things to do in the city and may bundle that if we are booking on something like expedia.com or another multi-partner tour company.
We also participate in rewards programs with Hilton Honors, Expedia, etc., and my wife, Amy and I, own vacation rentals in Maui and Scottsdale, Arizona through Starwood. But the sites below are the best we have found for discounts, and they all vary on how they work and what type of benefits they offer. Some of the sites below are metasearch engines that look at a variety of top sites and help find a good deals and compare prices. A good example of this is Kayak.com. Sometimes these site split bookings, which basically means part of your stay is booked on one website and part of your stay is booked through another site. This can make any changes very tricky and typically requires you to switch rooms as one booking ends and the other begins.
Bookings.com, on the other hand, offers a low-price guarantee, which offers to refund the difference of an advertised price up to 24 hours prior to your check-in date. Orbitz.com, meanwhile, offers 3% incentives on stays booked through desktop devices and 5% incentives when booked through their mobile app. So we broke down the top features of each site to give you an idea on how they differ.
Expedia.com – This online travel agency is somewhat unique because it has its own free rewards program. The program awards points that are good for all aspects of travel. The program seems to work better for hotels and resorts than flights, and is something we recommend joining. Expedia also offers extended low-price guarantee that is good up until 24 hours before your stay.
Bookings.com - allows you to search for everything from hotels, motels and resorts to hostels, vacation rental homes and bed & breakfast spots. The site offers a good price-match guarantee and good filtering options.
Travelocity.com – Offers a lot of travel options for hotels, resorts, flights, cars and cruises. They have a lot of deals on travel packages, and offer members better rates than normal guests, so it’s best to create an account prior to starting your online search.
Kayak.com – This is a metasearch engine for travel, not an actual online travel agency. The company can sometimes save you over 10% on your booking in what they call Kayak Hacker Stays. This is where they split your reservation between two or more travel agencies, meaning you actually have two different reservations, but the overall price is cheaper. The drawback is that you typically have to change rooms at some point during your stay. Get it – when one reservation ends, you check out, then have to wait a few hours to check into your next reservation.
Agoda.com – lets you search for deals on private houses and hostels in addition to normal hotels and resorts.
Orbitz.com – Offers a lot of options including really good vacation packages and the Orbitz Rewards Program. It’s a very easy-to-use online travel agency that has become very popular with world travelers.
Trivago.com – A metasearch engine that shows you the prices from other websites. It’s owned by Expedia and offers no rewards program.
Priceline.com – Has a 200% refund of the price difference if you book through their Express Deal program and find a better price up to midnight before your stay. The Express Deal is somewhat cumbersome and you can only see the actual deal (i.e. the real price), when you get ready to check out. It’s a marketing ploy that can take you more time to navigate, but the deals can be exceptional.
Hotwire.com – This is one of our favorite online travel agencies, but it’s pretty unique. They have what is called Hotwire Hot Rate hotels that can save you a lot of money. However, you are booking a hotel based on your needs (i.e. King size bed, two twins, etc.) without knowing the name of the hotel. You only learn where you are staying after the booking is complete. Hotwire also has a lot of bundle deals and vacation packages that can save hundreds of dollars on your vacation., and it also has a low-price guarantee.
Consumer.email@example.com – You don’t need to hold an American Express Card to use this program, but it does require you to first create an account on the website to view prices. The prices are comparable to other online travel agencies, but if you use one of their American Express Platinum Cards, you can earn up to five times as many points on prepaid hotel travel.
Tripadvisor.com – This is not an actual online travel agency and is perhaps best-known for being a review website. However, it functions like Kayak.com, a search engine that pulls a variety of travel-related data. The stellar reviews are what sets Tripadvisor apart from the crowd.
Roomlia.com – No frills site and watch out for hefty cancellation fees if you do use their service.
HotelTonight.com – This is a great app towards offering last-minute deals on hotel stays. It allows you to book rooms with short notice, however, it doesn’t include all hotels that you will find on some of the more-popular websites. It can be really good if you are looking to get the best deals on last-minute travel.
Hopper mobile – This app offers price predictions and claim to have a 95% accuracy rate.
Google Hotel Finder – This works like Tripadvisor and Kayak.com and is a great resource for finding the best prices on hotels. This allows you to setup alerts on when hotels, motels and resorts lower their prices, however, it doesn’t have desktop capabilities.
Finding the right location and time of the year will help you save money on vacation travel. We have stayed in an amazing room at the five-diamond Grand Solomar in Cabo San Lucas for under $200 a night for up to four people.
Once on property, a lot of hotels charge extra for items like cabana and chaise lounge rentals. A lot of times, these fees can be waived by talking to the staff.
Travel Tips & Tricks
Vanessa and I typically travel with one or two other friends and we split the costs. This saves us money on everything from rental cars to hotel suites because we split it 3-4 ways. We also try to find hotels that have kitchenettes so we can cook our own meals about half the time, and then go out the restaurants the rest of the trip. We also spend a lot of time planning a trip so we don’t get hammered with hidden costs. Pay attention to websites that display one price, and then upcharge for other things like parking fees, VRBO owner fees, gym fees, resort fees, etc. These can add up extremely quickly. We also pay for all of our travel on credit cards that have rewards programs so we can save money in the long run.
Pay close attention to all the ameneties when booking. Items like heated pools, professional gyms, etc., may or may not be things you are looking for, but don’t assume anything. The devil is in the details when travel planning.
Look at the photos very closely on the resort website and even check out the property on Google from the satellite view before booking.
Avoid places like Oahu during the peak times, because prices can be more than double than the off-season
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: What is the cheapest hotel booking site?
A: We recommend that you compare prices on several sites as no one site seems to have all the best deals.
Q: How can I get a hotel room for free?
A: The best ways is to use rewards programs offered by the major hotel chains.
Q: Is it better to book hotels last minute?
A: It can be, but the choices can be very limited on hotel availability.
Q: Is hotwire the cheapest for hotels?
A: Sometimes, but prices vary between all the sites. Most OTA's (Online Travel Agencis) have parity rules, meaning that rates have to be the same, per the hotels. But sometimes you can get lucky with email-only specials or mobile rates.
Q: Is it better to book directly with the hotel?
A: That all depends on the hotel, but from our experience, typically not.
Q: Is it cheaper to book a hotel online or walk in?
A: It all depends on the hotel or resort. Most of the time the best deals for hotels online offer the widest range of room choices and options for the best vacation.
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Hi! We are Ken Faught & Vanessa Doleshal. We love adventure travel, photography & share our journey with YOU! Our goal is help you plan that perfect trip & keep inspiring you to take the next one.