how we save money on trips: hotels

We take trips frequently. Sometimes short and cheap. Sometimes longer and a bit more expensive. If you look at our finances from a year, I’m pretty convinced a good chunk of our money would be spent on experiences and furniture (besides adoption). The stuff that lasts, in my opinion.

Our trip-taking has evolved over time. And with new apps and new wisdom, I think we’ve gotten even better at saving a few bucks. We are not experts, and I’m okay with it. My budget motto lately has been, “Save when you can, splurge when you must.” And we must splurge on Top Chef contestant and celebrity chef restaurants like the geeks we are.

As a series, I’ll be sharing the ways we save money on hotels, transportation, activities, and food.

how to save money on hotels

So, how we save money on hotels:

+ Priceline Express deals: Priceline Negotiator worked well for a while, but we prefer Priceline Express. You tell them where you’re going and the dates, and they provided discounted rates on hotels. You don’t know the hotel, but you get the rating, general location, and amenities. There are usually several price points, saving you as much as 45% in some cases.

If you want to put in the time, open another window and use the check boxes to narrow down — or sometimes totally figure out — the hotel you’re getting. We’ve had one oh-no-moment doing this, but that was a silly error on our part.

+ Hotel Tonight: If willing to wait to the day of travel, Hotel Tonight is awesome. Hotels with available rooms opt-in to be included in the app, most frequently at discounted prices. Right now, the Hilton in our city is on there for $99 as opposed to their usual $189 rate. A resort in Maine is on there for $169 as opposed to $399.

The app is well-designed with photos, maps, ratings, amenities, and the ability to make a quick on-your-smart-phone transaction.

And as an additional perk, get $25 off your first stay with the promo code NSEITZ1!

+ Loyalty/rewards programs: Find a hotel chain or group you especially enjoy? Join their rewards program for eventual free nights and other benefits. Loyalty programs can’t usually be utilized when booking through third-party sites, but it’s worth it to try if free to join.

We like Kimpton hotels (hello, no pet fee!). By joining their loyalty program, we got free wifi, $10 in the mini bar, and access to discounted last-minute deals.

+ Rentals: Okay, not really hotels. But sometimes just as fun. We’ve only used Airbnb, but I’ve heard good things about HomeAway and VRBO, as well.

Airbnb has worked well for us in places without a lot of hotel options when we’d prefer a cabin, like the Smokey Mountains and rural Georgia. Some cities seem to have more cheaper-than-hotels options on Airbnb than others.