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Let’s face it; traveling can be expensive. There are typically many costs associated with traveling. We have been traveling frequently for the last two years. We have used Airbnb and traditional hotels, as well as camping from time to time. Basically, we look for the cheapest option possible that is suitable for our large family of 6. Let’s take a look at how we save money on lodging.
When we are looking at lodging, we usually look for a place to stay that has at least a partial kitchen. These hotels are generally a little more expensive per night, but you save a ton by not having to go out to eat for any meals.
I have used many hotel search engines but I have found it extremely valuable to stick to one. We are loyal to Hotels.com because of the consistent savings we find there. We can often find hotels that are much cheaper than if booked elsewhere on Hotels.com.
Airbnb is a great platform. We love Airbnb. The problem with Airbnb, however, is it is sometimes difficult to find a place that meets our needs and is cost-efficient. With Airbnb, you typically have to worry about expensive cleaning fees. These fees make finding a place less transparent because the fees are often added when you go to make the reservation. Not to mention the added stress of using Airbnb with our four children. While we leave every hotel room we stay at as it was when we arrived, there’s an added element of “walking on eggshells” when we stay at an Airbnb. We would be devasted if our children damaged a part of someone’s home.
We have found and learned that there are a few hotel chains to look for when looking for larger accomodations.
These include Residence Inn & Suites, Townplace Suites, Embassy Suites, and Hilton Homewood Suites. We have found that we are typically able to find a room that has a separate living area and at least one bedroom. With Residence Inn and Townplace Suites, we are often able to find two-bedroom suites that have full kitchens. These make it feel as though you are staying in a condo.
The best way to find these specific hotel chains is to use Google Maps. On the mobile app, if you put in your destination and “act” as if you are starting your travels, a search feature will pop up. We simply type in the full hotel name into the search and it will show all hotels of this type along your route. It requires some scrolling on your mobile phone but it is well worth it. Once we find one, we take note of the city or town the hotel is and then search that city/town in Hotels.com. When you find the exact hotel you found on Google Maps, be sure to click the “Show All Rooms” option in the Hotels.com website. This will show you all rooms, not just the rooms with the best rates. This is important because sometimes the larger suites will get buried due to being slightly more expensive. But remember, the room might be $5 more per night but you can potentially save a ton on food costs. Boom!
There are a few amenities that are a requirement for us when we are looking at hotels. Luckily, Hotels.com is very thorough in what the hotels offer. Every hotel we stay at we look at the breakfast offerings. This is critical because it is not only a convenience, it is a money-saving option. When a hotel offers any form of breakfast, we can cross that meal off our grocery list. We make do with what they have to offer. Now, there have been times this year where the hotels are not offering breakfast due to the pandemic. In these instances, we have made sure to bring instant oatmeal. Generally, all hotels have coffee makers in their rooms. We use the coffee maker to heat up our water for our oatmeal. Voila! Instant breakfast with a small kitchen. Just don’t forget the disposable bowls and spoons.
Another amenity we always check is parking. We go as far as to check the Google street view to make sure the parking can accommodate our big truck. Free parking is ideal but is not always available, especially in the bigger cities. We manually add the cost of parking to the nightly rate provided to get a clear picture of what the hotel is going to cost us.
To top it all off, Hotels.com rewards you for continuously using their app or website to book your stays. When you book and complete 10 stays through Hotels.com, you get a night free at any hotel!
The way this works is they calculate the average cost you paid over the 10 stays and give you this amount as a credit. We have found that we spend, on average, about $165 a night on a hotel stay. This free night is very valuable.
Occassionally, Hotels.com will even run a promotion where they give you two credits for 1 night. This means you could essentially stay at a hotel 5 nights and earn a free night. Incredible value and a way to encourage yourself to travel more!
Now that you have an understanding of how to save money on lodging, I hope you can take more trips and spend more quality time with your family! No extra cash for traveling? Be sure to check out how we took our first steps towards financial freedom. You can find that blog post here.