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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Become a Savvy Hotel Guest 5.7.11

Don't forget to enter to win our current giveaways. 

  • Here on the blog you can enter to win a $25 Travelocity Hotel gift card. This drawing goes through May 21. For details click here
  • You can also enter to win two giveaways on Facebook. Minimus.biz was kind enough to donate a Carry On Caddy full of organic travel-sized products, like shampoo and toothpaste. That giveaway goes through May 15. 
  • The second Facebook giveaway is sponsored by us and hosted by Free Samples 2 Fill Up Your Mailbox. You must be a Shereen Travels Cheap Fan and also "like" Free Samples... to enter. The prize is a $10 Target Gift Card (there are many other items to enter for as well) and the last day to enter is May 23. 



Do you know everything there is to know about staying in hotels and getting the best deals? I like to think that I’m a budget travel expert, since I find ways to cut costs or get the most of the dollars I do spend and I can almost always find a discount on anything I want to do. My travels are always packed with fun food finds and awesome activities and I almost always have a folder full of information for things I want to see along with a somewhat detailed itinerary. I know what I want to do and I try my darnedest to get it all in there and do it before I go back home. After all, I may not go back or that thing I wanted to see or do might be gone next time I return.


So, while you’re spending you’re days up to your trip making lists of things to experience and finding discounts for them, booking a hotel or other lodging should be as simple as possible and much easier to choose and book than all those other things. I mean, it’s only ONE thing of many. Here’s how to become a “budget” hotel aficionado quickly. Almost everything is common sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s something that we ever think about when traveling.

Look for extras - Finding a room within your price range that offers free breakfast or a kids eat free option can really save you on dining out. The same thing goes for free WiFi and other incentives. Think about how they will benefit you and your budget. Is there complimentary cookies/fruit and coffee in the lobby? That's included in your room rate, so take advantage of them. Grab one of each on your way in or out. You can carry it as a snack during your day.

Stay right outside the city or in the University District (if there is one) - Hotels in these locations are usually much cheaper. If you planned to use public transportation anyway, you'll just have a bit further to ride. A little longer to rest your feet on the way back "home" each day.

Stay in the middle of the week - It's well-known that hotels boost their prices on the weekend. If you can stay Sunday through Thursday nights instead or minimize your Friday and Saturday stays you can sometimes save up to half.

Stay in "business" hotels over the weekend - Hotels that cater to business travelers have an opposite strategy on the weekend. Rather than raise rates, they often lower them, as most business travelers don't conduct business on the weekends and usually return home on Fridays or Saturdays. You can also get great deals over the holidays.

Book a suite - If you are traveling in a group or have a large family, rather than book several rooms look at pricing for a suite. These have more space, as they normally have multiple bedrooms and can be much cheaper than two or more hotel rooms.

Sign up for hotel rewards programs - Just for being a member of the rewards program, you can get deals on stays that aren't available to everyone else. You can also use the points you racked up for upgrades, incentives and free rooms.

Book a corner room - While this won't really save you money, it will get you more space. Corner rooms are almost alway the same price as the other rooms on the floor, but they have a larger square footage.

Go out to eat - You think going out to eat won't save you money? Well, it will when the other choice is room service. Room service menus seem like a great idea and make everything sound really appealing, but your food is marked up a large percentage of what it would cost if you went to eat in the restaurant and a large gratuity is tacked on as well. Most people don't know this and then add a tip to the receipt when it's brought to the room. 

Bring your own snacks - If you're like me, you get the munchies at inconvenient times. Combat this by bringing your own snacks and drinks and not feeling the temptation pull of the mini-bar. Why pay $8 for a bottle of water when you have brought your own? If you're sad that yours is warm, make an ice machine run and pour it into a glass. 

Keep checking rates - Just because you've already made your reservations doesn't mean you have to pay those rates. Keep checking back or sign up at Yapta and have them monitor rates for you. If there is a price drop, you can call and rebook under the new rate.

Use these tips as a starting base for learning to spend less on your hotel stays and also getting the most of what you do pay. After some time, you'll pick up your own tricks and will wan to share them with others!

I don't know about you, but I find that hotels have a lack of outlets. Well, I have at least 2-3 things I want to plug in at a time. That's hard when there's only one available outlet behind a bedside table or next to the sink. I don't think you should have to move furniture to plug in your phone and I certainly don't want to put electronics next to running water. I always bring my Belkin mini surge-protector that has 3 outlets and 2 USB ports. It's compact enough to carry in your travel bag and plug in almost everywhere, plus it has a rotating plug, so you really CAN put it into any available outlet. We loved the one we had so much, we bought a second one for home use. Now I never have to take the original one out of my carry-on.




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