Tips To Save Money While Traveling - Accommodations

Author: Saumya

When on vacation, accommodations can often be the second biggest expense after flights. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to save money while traveling on accommodations through a variety of resources available online and offline. 


So, instead of worrying about money and other expenses, you can simply sit back and relax without worrying about getting back home with an empty wallet. 


Factors behind hotel bookings 



When it comes to finding the right kind of hotel, you need to find the best utility and value for money options instead of scrounging for the cheapest possible location/hotel to save money while traveling. Of course, who wants to share bathrooms with a total stranger while you are on vacation? 


Your accommodation options will depend on the following few factors: 


- Your overall budget 

- The destination you choose

- The location of the hotel in that destination 

- Who is traveling with you (number of people and their comfort level)

- Your comfort level and requirements in terms of amenities 

- Your interests from a vacation

- The type of vacation you look forward to


Booking accommodations 


Paying over and above your budget for your hotel room is one of the easiest ways to run out of money early on while on vacation. However, booking a cheap room at a lower-priced hotel will probably ruin your vacation plans in the long run since it cannot meet your needs and comfort levels. 


Instead, you should be looking forward to finding a hotel room/accommodation option that provides terrific amenities and value to keep you happy and something that will help you save money while traveling. 


Usually, people start looking for such hotel options well in advance before their vacation can even start. However, people do not realize that it does not work out in their favor all the time. It does work wonders for some people, but for others, this could be a deal-breaker without them even knowing about it. 


People do not realize that you are only supposed to book your accommodation if the cheap accommodation is most likely scarce when you arrive later at the destination. 


Should you book in advance?


There are, of course, multiple advantages when it comes to booking your accommodation at your desired destination in advance of your estimated time of arrival. It can save you money while traveling and, at the same time, guarantees you a safe space for you to rest and occupy upon reaching.


Once you reach your destination with an advance booking on a hotel, you go straight to your hotel and get that instant sense of utility and gratification. 


However, if you do not have a reservation, you could risk yourself being turned away right at the reception since the type of room and services you are looking for are not available at that moment. There can also be chances that even if you do get a room upon reaching, you might not like the same due to any reasoning and reject the same eventually. You could end up spending a few minutes to a couple of hours checking out the various hotels before you find yourself a room that is perfect for you and makes you happy.


It is amazingly safe to book a hotel room in advance, as one of the primary ways to save money while traveling. This guarantees that when you arrive at the destination, no matter how late during the night, the hotel will be awaiting your presence and will let you in, even if the hotel has shut down for the night. 


Of course, it is not fun to simply spend your entire night on the streets, hopping from one place to another because all the hotels are booked, and you cannot find a room on an immediate basis. 


We talked to a few travel experts and learned how it happened to one of them in the past. They had to stay out since they did not book in advance, and all the hotels were locked up since the occupants inside had fallen asleep. 


This is why our Leisure travel guide recommends booking your accommodation well in advance as a part of your travel planning tips


However, if one is not concerned about the safety aspect and can manage to roam around as a part of some spontaneous vacation goals, and their primary goal is just to find the best accommodation deals on your vacation, our Leisure tourist guide will not recommend you book your accommodation options in advance. This includes on the phone, with your travel agent, or through any tourism website. 


There are 5 primary reasons behind this recommendation:


1. The best deals will not be found until you arrive 



Once you reach your destination and start exploring on foot or through a car rental service, you will most probably go on a serendipitous adventure. You will definitely stumble upon a cozy, warm, and vibrant homestay or a guesthouse/budget hotel that might not be listed on such websites and would not be available through a phone call. These are often the places that solely rely on just walk-ins. 


These properties are usually tucked away in a little corner on the street and turn out to be some of the best yet cheapest places since they do not receive many guests because of their lack of presence online. They could also be located off the beaten paths, in nooks and crannies amid nature. 


One of the travel experts told us how in Thailand, in the town of Trat, they found a decent guesthouse on a quiet street at the end of a long alleyway. If one is not in touch with the subtleties of nature and drawn to universal vibes, the tiny wooden signs would not be easily noticed by anyone. The guesthouse was, in fact, more like a homestay run and managed by an old couple renting out a few vacant rooms in their home. 


After some negotiations, the couple ended up giving the travel expert their room with all the necessary amenities and free WiFi for 120 Baht ($3.60) per night. These kinds of deals cannot be found online. 


Our travel expert also explored other guesthouses on the same street and listed them on various booking websites. These were the ones that were charging a steep price for either the same amenities or rather much worse. 


When traveling, you might also find some special offers advertised outside different hotels and properties that include the best deals for “walk-ins” only. These deals are never available online. 


Booking in advance means that you will never get a chance to investigate these unlisted and sometimes excellent accommodations, nor will you get a chance to get your hands on some of the most amazing deals around. 


2. You might not get a chance to be spontaneous with your vacation 


Booking an accommodation in advance also means that you will end up locking yourself in a trap for those specific days during your vacation, especially if the hotel is not as per your liking. 


You will have less freedom, less flexibility, and fewer choices compared to someone who has not made any form of reservations. 


If you want to change your plans, you will have to do so without a profit, incurring a significant financial loss during your vacation. 


You can avert these financial losses in some cases if you are not providing any card details to the hotel, nor are you paying a significant chunk of money in advance. 


3. You might have to pay some extra commission to the booking websites



Some online booking websites take a sort of commission or a service charge to guarantee your reservations. These charges can be a part of anything, from a cleaning fee to a non-refundable deposit. 


But, when you are getting yourself a room upon reaching the destination and walking in, you are not required to pay any such commissions. 


The booking websites usually take these commissions from the hotels/guesthouses and not from visitors trying to book a room. However, the hotels included these commission rates in their overall advertised price to compensate for their commissions. The customers have to pay extra to the hotels this way ultimately, one way or another. 


When walking in, your prices and rates can significantly go down as compared to the ones advertised online, since this way, you are simply paying for the room and not anyone’s commission. 


Most travelers state that when they are looking for a room listed at a specified price on a third-party hotel booking website, the price was completely the opposite, on the lower side, when they directly turned up at the hotel.


4. Booking your hotel in advance can make it difficult to negotiate 


One of the biggest factors to help you save money while traveling is your negotiation power to get the best deals. You can get great discounts and deals when you are negotiating live, in-person as compared to when you are booking online. 


When you book your accommodation online, you agree to pay the listed price, even when the payment for the hotel is not made until you are checking out toward the end of your vacation. 


This means that even if the hotel has lower occupancy or not the same amount of utilities and amenities that were earlier advertised on the website, you will have to pay the full price, as advertised and listed online. 


You could argue for your cause and threaten to cancel your bookings as a last resort to get a discount, but if you have already registered your card details with the booking website, you will be charged the full sum for your booking. 


However, if you are simply walking in and getting a room in person, there are chances of you being able to negotiate a great deal on lower prices. 


This goes the same even when you are making reservations over the phone. Negotiating in-person gets you better deals and discounts than in comparison to negotiating for the same while you are in a conversation with the reception staff on call. 


When booking a hotel room in person, you can easily navigate the best deals with your persona, power of persuasion, and effective communication skills. 


5. Misrepresented rooms and amenities on booking sites 



Third-party websites can aesthetically present you with state-of-the-art infrastructure and the best amenities the hotel has to offer, without any display of uncleaned bathrooms, cracked wall paint, and other such ugly scenes. 


Most hotel businesses paint a misleading image of themselves on booking websites, and we get trapped! We have all been there, right?


Photos can be easily manipulated by the hotel owners and their staff with the help of various photo editing software to create an illusion of a “nice” hotel. 


Some hotels even go out of their way to lie to people about their amenities possessing various facilities that they actually do not have. One of our experts stated how they turned up at their hotel after an 8-hour long flight, expecting to catch the sunset from their ocean-facing hotel balcony while munching on their favorite cuisine and wine.  Then, they realized that there actually was no balcony. 


Customer reviews found on various travel websites can at times also be unreliable. A whole sector is backing up the hotel and hospitality industry today, revolving their services around “reputation management.” The hotel companies hire these reputation managers to leave behind believably positive yet fake reviews on these travel websites and Google. 


In fact, the same can happen in a completely different way. A competitor of one hotel is leaving fake reviews that are misleading in nature regarding their amenities so that you would choose their competitor instead of them. 


Some hotels go so far as to bribe their guests with discounts, deals, and incentives to leave good reviews on third-party travel booking websites. 


Final Words 


Now that we are done discussing why it is not recommended to get a “bargain” without going to the hotel in person, we would also tell you instances where it can be recommended to pre-book your hotel before visiting. 


You can book your hotel if you are looking forward to visiting a popular tourist destination during the peak season. This way, you can save money while traveling on accommodation options by starting to plan before your journey begins. 


Turning up straight to a hotel during peak season is sometimes a recipe for disaster. With rooms priced exorbitantly high, cheaper rooms and hotels will get purged first. This will leave you only with some very expensive deals. In such cases, there will be a massive possibility of you not finding a room by going there straight. 


However, it is still up to you to decide. Weigh in all the factors, think twice, and then take action! 



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