Traveling can be expensive and stressful with all the things you have to do to plan. Plane tickets, cab fares, parking fees, hotel rooms — the list is never-ending. Staying in a hotel can be one of the most expensive components of your trip, especially if you don't know how to take advantage of the many discounts and deals that are out there.
Here are some suggestions on finding discounts and deals on hotels:
Compare, Compare, Compare!
We've all heard of sites like Priceline and Kayak. These sites will compare prices of hotels for you on other hotel deal websites. This is a great idea, but don't rely on just one website to find your deals. Often, similar rooms will have different prices on different websites. Comparing prices is the best way to find the cheapest option. Be sure to look at several different sites.
Be aware of sites like Groupon and hotels.com. Groupon is a site that often has deals for hotels that are deeply discounted or include freebies like food or tickets to a local attraction. However, the deals on Groupon are extremely short-lived, and it can sometimes be difficult to book on the dates you want to travel.
If you can find a hotel on your dates though, Groupon often has great deals. Hotels.com is a more traditional site for finding hotels. It doesn't compare different websites like Kayak.com, but it often has great deals.
There are also a couple of websites like dealangel.com. This website is unique because it shows you the value of the deal you're getting, instead of just the flat price. It shows how much the room would be at the regular price and the percentage that you are saving. This website also has great filter options and is very easy to use.
Check with the Hotel
After you've compared prices and found a hotel that you like, don't forget to go look at that specific hotel's website! Often, they will offer a special deal for booking directly from them. Some hotels will include freebies like an extra night or a gift basket. Sometimes, you can even find a better discount on the hotel website than from the outside sources.
Get on the Phone
If the website is unfruitful, don't be afraid to call the hotel directly. Ask what deals they are currently running and see if they will offer you an incentive to book with them. It never hurts to ask, and you might get something great out of it.
If you're not too set on staying in a traditional hotel, you have a few more options. If you are traveling on a weekend, be sure to check and see if there are any business hotels in the city. Since they cater to the business crowd, they are often very busy during the week but empty during the weekends. This means you can get deals since they want to sell their rooms.
Another thing to check out is hostels. While these used to be reserved for students, there are now a lot more options for families and travelers. Check out hostelworld.com to see the what's available. A bonus with hostels? They're typically quite cheap, so they're good for budget travelers.
Go Off the Beaten Path
If you are visiting a big city like Washington, D.C., or Chicago, look for hotels outside of the city. Suburbs and small towns that are fairly close will have cheaper hotel rates than ones that are in the city. Another bonus is that they often don't charge for parking, while at downtown hotels you may have to pay $20-$50 just to park your car.
If you can find a hotel outside the city that is close to public transportation, then you can see the sights without having to worry about your car.
The best way to get deals is to ask. You'll never get a deal if you don't speak up, so don't be afraid to go for it. Calling the hotel is the best way to score those deals, so don't forget to try it. If you book in advance and then find a cheaper price elsewhere, call your hotel and see if they will match it or upgrade you for no additional cost.
If you're more of a risk-taker, consider trying to book your hotel room on the evening that you want to stay. Sometimes, hotels will give you a discount on a hotel room the night of because they would rather sell the room at a cheaper rate than not make any money at all. This can backfire, however, so have a backup plan ready, just in case. When asking for discounts and upgrades, be polite and don't get too pushy. People are more inclined to help you if you are kind and have a good attitude, so don't forget to smile.
With these tips in mind, you'll soon be staying in a plush hotel room in the city of your choice. Don't forget to pack your toothbrush, and have a great trip!