Holiday Traveling on a Budget

I recently posted about the best time to buy a flight for the holidays, which was in early October, so now, you just need to buy it ASAP! But once you get there, where will you stay? Here are some tips for booking a hotel for the upcoming holiday season.

  • If you are a rewards member, whether it is for hotels or an airline, look into what benefits are available for you to use during the holidays. While it may still be more points than usual, using those extra points you may have could still save you a few hundred dollars.
  • If you’re not a rewards member, see if there is one to join! Often there are bonuses for signing up, which would be handy to use when booking your upcoming holiday travel. Cheapism has done all of the work and gathered all of the best hotel rewards for us!
  • Whatever you do, don’t wait. If your plans are firmly set, book everything as early as possible because you will be able to get a better deal the earlier you book.
  • Call up the hotel and ask if they have any deals if you pay for the whole stay upfront or book a non-refundable room. On the hotel’s end, this will ensure that they will make money on that hotel room whether you show up or not. This is also the best way to know your reservation won’t get lost in their system.
  • For the most enjoyable visit, book directly through the hotel. Travel sites can offer you cheap rates because they buy in bulk (like shopping at Costco), but hotels often give them the rooms with the worst amenities – near the elevator or stairs, at the absolute end of the hallway, etc. You’ll be treated the same by the staff, but the rooms set aside in the systems for websites like Expedia and Priceline are not often the most desirable.
  • When using travel sites, don’t pick a hotel based on it’s star ratings. Different sites use different measurements and don’t often take into account some of the criteria that truly matters to a potential guest. What I rely on is the reviews by customers that stayed; while there are always some outliers, reading the reviews is the best way to get the most accurate feel for the hotel and what you can expect from your stay.
  • Don’t forget about the extra fees! This is where the cost of a hotel stay can creep up on you. Wi-fi, parking, resort fees… make sure you thoroughly look at the bill and the fine print before your book your stay so you know exactly what you’re getting into and what exactly you have and will need to pay for.

Rule of thumb:¬†booking earlier is always better. If you’re thinking of Christmas while everyone is prepping for Labor Day, you’ll be ahead of the curve and get the best bang for your buck. You can read the MSN Travel article that I was inspired by¬†here.

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