Look Before You Book: Tips for Choosing Budget-Friendly Hotels


When you are traveling, one of the biggest expenses you will encounter is lodging. Hotels in prime locations often change their rates, seemingly at will, and some of those rates will leave you with a very flat wallet! If, like most people, you are traveling on a budget, you must get the most room for your money, and with so many choices available, the process of finding a good deal can be confusing. These tips will help you to find a decent hotel that will not break your personal bank, leaving you more money to truly enjoy your vacation.

There are three types of websites that can help you when you are seeking a budget-friendly hotel. The first type can be classified as “travel advice” sites, which have a multitude of information on your destination. Often, you will find family-run, small hotels on these sites that do not appear on the larger travel booking sites. Fodor’s, at www.fodors.com, is a good example of such a site; so is Trip Advisor at www.tripadvisor.com. These sites not only offer information on great hotels–often marked with dollar signs or other symbols to show relative cost–but are packed with other useful tips, such as hotel reviews, message boards to communicate with former guests, and news, dining, and events in the area. They also provide links to hotel websites and other travel-related resources. The downside to these websites is that you may not be able to book directly through them, and sometimes there is more information about a location than you care to wade through–although most are so well-organized this will not usually be an issue.

The second type of website is the travel booking website. The most popular are Expedia at www.expedia.com, Travelocity at www.travelocity.com, Orbitz at www.orbitz.com, Priceline at www.priceline.com, and Hotels.com at www.hotels.com. There are even compliation websites, such as Kayak at www.kayak.com, which compile your search requirements on each of the major travel websites and show you all the results at once. These search engines are powered by large groups who grab unbooked rooms from hotel chains and advertise them at discounted prices. They offer not only online booking but also customer reviews and other information. One of the big advantages to these search engines is the ability to group hotels by locations on a map, price, amenities, and other categories. Another plus is that these sites offer a great deal of protection for you as a traveler; if there is a problem with your reservation, there is a toll-free number to call for assistance, and online travel advisers can help you make your reservations or solve problems. Some even offer price guarantees to ensure you get the best price possible. One disadvantage to these sites is that not all hotels advertise with them, so you may miss the deals that little inns and bed and breakfasts have to offer. Another disadvantage is that many of them require up-front payment when booking a reservation, which means that if you cancel you may have to wait for a refund.

A third type of website is the hotel’s direct website. Many hotels offer online deals on their websites, so you might want to check them to see if you are getting the best price if you have looked at a more general site. You can also call the hotel directly and inquire about deals that may not be available online. The most popular chains are Holiday Inn at www.holidayinn.com, Ramada at www.ramada.com, Motel 6 at www.motel6.com, Travel Lodge at www.travelodge.com, and Days Inn at www.daysinn.com. Each of these chains varies in price depending on location, but they consistently offer fairly good prices in many locations, and the advantage to using a well-known chain is that you tend to be able to anticipate the quality of the hotel. A disadvantage to going directly to the hotel’s website is that you have to search each hotel in the are individually. Further, hotel websites may not offer the best deals due to heavy volume of booking; be sure to check at least two other sites before you book directly with the hotel.

Finding a budget-friendly hotel room does not have to be hard. By doing a little research, you can book a clean, comfortable room at a price you can afford.

This post was written by

jason – who has written posts on Budget Clowns.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.

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