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Monday, February 23, 2015

5 Essential Must-Dos to Saving Big Bucks on Homestays

As you know, I'm a big believer in saving money by staying in vacation rentals. I like having the extra room, because tripping over each other can be frustrating, being able to make my own meals and having a separate living space from my sleeping space. It's nice to have more to sit on in your room besides the bed and that one hard chair shoved in the corner, right? Even though many homestays can cost the same as a hotel, you're getting more, but we still like to get the best bang for our buck, so here are five things to do to get an even better deal on your rental.

Look at this amazing kitchen in London

1. Look for the extras
I'm all about the included amenities when I travel. Anything I may use and don't have to pay a fee for is awesome. WorldEscape may not include locations everywhere in the world you want to go, but it is constantly expanding and it allows you to search by destination and date and then focus on things you want in a rental. My searches always include WiFi, TV with DVD player (because I'm not always out sightseeing) and washing machine so I can pack light. Homestays enable you to feel like you're at home no matter where you are or how many people you travel with.

A washer is a definite must, like this one in a Philly apartment

2. Use the extras
This is really important. If you're paying for something to be included, then make sure you use it. There's no point in renting a home with a huge kitchen if you don't plan to make a meal or store your snacks. When I travel, I specifically look for a full kitchen, because I don't like to get up earlier and waste money on breakfast. I pack my own coffee and nibbles from home and stop at the grocery store right at the beginning of my trip to pick up bagels, fruit, eggs, bread, butter, cereal and milk. We always en up with a few leftover meals on our trips, so those get stored in the fridge and heated up or turned into something else before we leave.

I love this pretty little Paris apartment

3. Travel during the off- and shoulder-season
Just like with hotels, homestays usually offer better deals when your destination isn't expected to be crazy busy. You'll save more, have more time to relax in your rental and won't have to fight crowds all day every day to see the sights.

Such a great view from this Rome apartment

4.Get closer to the action
No matter what your plans on your vacation, there's probably a convenient location for you to stay at your destination. Homestays can be found in the middle of a city, on the outskirts or anywhere in between. Choose what works best for you. Maybe you want to skip a rental car and get close to all the good stuff. Maybe you want to stay a bit further out and enjoy a quieter, more laid back trip. If you stay a little off the beaten path, you can still skip the rental car by booking a place on a public transportation route. It's saves money and allows you to let someone else take care of the driving.

I could certainly call this Dhaka apartment home

5. Avoid booking fees
I hate these. I like to book my whole vacation myself. If I wanted to pay someone else to help me out, I'd just go through a travel agent. Travel merchants online shouldn't claim their giving me the best rate and then charging me a fee for their service. WorldEscape has done away with booking fees and credit card fees, so what you see is what you pay.

Make sure to ask any questions you have before booking. This is really important, because you want to know what you're getting, what you're not and learn how to make your trip even better. You'll also want to read reviews from other guests, because this is another way to learn what you're getting. With homestays, sometimes they can sound too good to be true. Of course, I've had experiences where I'm surprised by my stay...in the best ways possible. WorldEscape verifies all listed properties, so you know they'll be good and you get all their extras included in the home rate, which is pretty awesome.

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What's your biggest pet peeve when it comes to booking a hotel or a homestay online?

Disclaimer: This is a post sponsored by WorldEscape, but all opinions are 100% mine.

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