Tips for booking cheap accommodation

Ieva Miltina 02 March 2022 531 views 6 min. read
Search hotels website on computer screen
Search hotels website on computer screen

Traveling just automatically means moving away from the comfort of your own home. Besides new impressions, adventures, and new landscapes it also means moving away from your own bed and roof over the head, but in most cases, it doesn’t automatically mean running away from all the comfort. A place to lay your head peacefully overnight is still a necessity, and therefore the accommodation industry is one of the major whales that holds tourism afloat in the whole world. However, you are just a traveler looking for cheap accommodation. For you, knowing the most typical aspects that are oriented toward bringing more cash to the service providers is crucial! Do you know why? So you can be smart about planning the finances and subsequently - saving some bucks. Make travel to different countries easier for you.

This is why you reading these words is great news! I will tell you some tips on how to find cheap accommodation (or, in some cases - even free accommodation!), or cut your expenses related to this part of the travel. And it is no rocket science, just simple things you should keep in your mind when scrolling through all the accommodation options. There is one thing that I can tell you ahead though. It will require a bit more time than just shooting for the first accommodation option. But that’s fine - with time you will get more efficient at finding your bed for the night quicker. With that said, let’s go ahead. Here are some tips for booking hotels and other types of accommodation at the best prices!

If you need to get a visa and contact visa service before your travel, for some countries you might be required to submit a flight reservation and a hotel booking. Sometimes there is a risk that visa service will refuse the issuing of the desired document. To save you stress and unnecessary expenses, it is suggested to book accommodation with an option to cancel at no extra fee if you are not sure about the potential outcome of this application. It just means, do contrary to what I said before and opt exactly for the refundable rate!

And let’s start with the first tip.

Choosing the right online accommodation booking site

person booking hotel room

Just considering where you will make the booking is a very smart move. There are very many sites that offer this service nowadays, but they all operate on similar principles. Just comparing the price options between those is a great first step for tapping into the world of cheaper prices. Generally speaking, it is hard to say what is the best website for accommodation booking, because it depends on many factors and your convenience. But here are a few examples to start with

  • Booking.com
  • Agoda.com
  • Kayak.com
  • Priceline.com
  • Hostelworld.com (great if you are looking for cheaper hostel options rather than hotels!)

We will talk more about how to navigate the prices in those sites in a moment, but for now, just consider looking at price differences in those. And a smart tip I have used many times is - try checking the website of the accommodation itself to compare the prices! Often so, these search engines require a transaction fee that is then included in the final price of your stay. If you book directly with your desired accommodation you might skip these fees. Or even better - tell the price that you found on a website and turn directly to the accommodation (by phone or email) stating the price and asking if they would consider offering a lower one. Has worked 100% every time for me!

Use the benefits of loyalty programs

bank card

The good thing about these sites (and simultaneously, the bad one, too) is the fact that they will use every marketing tactic in the box to persuade you into making the deal with them. One of the sneaky ways to keep you coming to their site again is the members-only prices and rewards points you can collect with every booking. Just check the available options and choose the one that fits your liking best. For example, in Booking.com you get a discount on most bookings immediately after joining their loyalty program. Alternatively, if you travel a lot and book hotels frequently then consider paying with points from a compatible airline loyalty program or credit card.

Delete your cookies/history

woman using phone

As I mentioned already, online accommodation booking sites use all the possible marketing tricks. Them knowing that you have been on their site might be used against you. To push you into buying a particular offer, they might raise the price or throw out other notifications the following times when you visit after the initial viewing. This is why it is smart to use incognito mode or delete your cookies/history to make sure you get the same price as before.

Now that we are done with information about cheap accommodation booking sites, let’s talk more about the booking and accommodation options that might save you money.

Tips about making a booking:

Consider the type of accommodation

morning inside the hostel

The first and most important tip is connected to the type of accommodation you will opt for. Choosing alternative options to hotels and B&Bs might save you a lot! If you are not sure how to find cheap accommodation, just consider booking a hostel or an apartment before anything else (like the ones in AirBnB, but not only). If you are a traveler willing to mingle with the locals then you might even check Couchsurfing - an option that will let you stay with locals for free. But keep in mind that it is not just a bed - most of them just want to communicate with foreigners and connect, too.

Keep an eye for the non-refundable rate

pile of travel luggage

As I mentioned already, cheap accommodation booking sites will throw various marketing tricks at you. And the non-refundable rate is definitely one of those. It is always lower because by choosing it you opt-out of the flexibility of canceling free of charge. But if you are sure about the dates of your travel and have no plan in changing your itinerary then you will save some money by choosing exactly this option!

Consider longer stays

iç mekan fotoğrafçılığı

For accommodation services it is more convenient to have people over for a longer period of time - it is a done deal that their beds are not staying empty without bringing income. Therefore, if you are free in time as well as your plans then check if maybe a 7-day stay will cost you less than a 6-day stay, for example. And yes, this usually works on stays that last at least a week, but don’t take my word for granted though.

Think about the location

receptionist giving key

This is probably one of the key factors (besides the level of offered service) that determines the price of the accommodation. You can be sure that almost anywhere the options in the center of the city, or closer to major tourist attractions will charge you more. The same goes for properties with a spectacular view (vs. a more regular or no-view). What you can do about it is check the price differences of properties further away. Just keep in mind that choosing accommodation too far from everything you want to do also means additional expenses in local transportation.

Travel offseason

giving ticket

Traveling during the off-season is always cheaper. It goes for the accommodation as well as the flight options. Do you know why? Because most people want to have a vacation in summer! This is why in Europe, for example, the traditional tourism season is considered from April/May until October. And the properties always have a lower occupancy rate in the rest of the year, but still, need to fill their beds as much as possible. And here is a chance for you to catch some cheaper prices!

Be smart about the extra services

keys

The accommodation providers are in hospitality service, and it just means providing travelers with anything they might need to feel comfortable and cared for. But if you are on a tighter budget then opting out from all the extras is a smart way to save money. Look out for dinner and breakfast that might be included in the price automatically. If you stay in a hostel then check if they might charge you extra for a towel, for example. Or another very common way to save money is choosing a room without a view, or on a lower floor. You see, a room with a view will almost always be more expensive!

Now that we have covered the basic points of things to look out for, I hope you have become a master of online accommodation booking! Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but these tips will surely help you to find better prices and save some bucks that you will be able to spend on way more things in your chosen destination! As I mentioned before - there is no definite answer to the question of what is the best website for accommodation booking. But you now have a set of useful tools to try out and see for yourself which fits your liking and interests most. With that said - the most profound wishes of luck to you in your future travels!