How do you get the cheapest hotels when you travel? You can
start with the internet, but unlike with plane tickets, you will
never find the cheapest hotels using the search sites. They are
designed to help market those hotels that have marketing budgets.
Not all hotels are online yet, and the ones that aren't are often
the cheapest in town.
Now, of course, you want a decent hotel too. It is true that
the cheapest are often not so nice. Often, but not always. So
just to get an idea what rooms are going for in the town you're
traveling to, you can start with websites, such as www.cheaptickets.com.
Theses will rarely list places that are really bad.
Remember, however, that they only give you the cheapest rates
for the hotels that are in their system. I just did a
search for Tucson, Arizona on their site, and two others. Cheap
Tickets.com was the easiest to use, and found the best rates,
but I could show you several motels here in Tucson that are clean
and $15 cheaper than the cheapest rate they found.
A good way to get decent rates when traveling by car, is to
pick up coupon books at gas stations along the highways. We have
repeatedly found good deals using these. It is rare that a manager
or owner won't honor the coupon. Only if they are absolutely
full will you have a problem. Read the fine print, however, as
they may charge more for certain dates, or for two people.
The other way to get a cheap room is to negotiate. This doesn't
work as well in the United States. For some reason, most (but
not all) owners here would rather watch you drive away than knock
five bucks off the room rate. This is not true in other countries.
When my wife and I were in Banos, Ecuador recently, we were told
the room would be $12 per night. We paid $6 per night (Clean,
cable T.V., lots of hot water), because the owner understood
we would walk away if we thought we could do better.
A Cheap Hotels Secret
Use the "magic words." There are promotions
done where if you "mention this ad" or just use the
right words, you get up to 70% discount. Talk, talk, talk. Tell
them if you're a member of the AARP, AAA or whatever. Tell the
person on the phone that you saw an ad in the "Times,"
or whatever big paper they might have advertised in. Or just
ask what the magic words are, and some receptionists will tell
you. Or ask "What do I have to say to get the cheapest rate?"
They'll sometimes tell you.
Some other things to try:
1. Ask for AAA and other discounts. They may give you
a discount just for asking.
2. Call ahead to several places. If you know you can
save $30, it may be worth stopping for the night a few miles
sooner than you planned.
3. Pay cash for several days for a discount. We have
done this in Montana, California and overseas. Let them know
you may otherwise be talking to their competition.
4. Consider hostels. Rent a bed instead of a room,
if you are alone and want to go real cheap.
5. Sleep in a conversion van. Parked at a hot spring
for $3 per night, this was one of our favorite accommodations.
Pages related to cheap hotels: Cheap