Ever since I switched to self-employment and became location independent, I have gone on several trips. Having the ability to travel more was one of the reasons I left my day job to work for myself, so it makes sense.
I am often asked questions about how we are able to afford these vacations, and many just assume that we’re spending thousands of dollars on each vacation. Or, that we are in debt…
Neither of these are true.
Our vacations are usually fairly cheap and that is how we are able to go on so many. We spend no where near the $4,000 average that others spend on each vacation.
We are able to spend significantly less than the average because we actively look to save money when on vacation, such as with how much we spend on where we sleep. Usually hotel costs are one of the largest parts of a person’s vacation budget, but they don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to save money on your accommodations, and, this way you can go on more vacations because you can spread your vacation budget further!
Here are my tips to save money on hotels and rentals so that you can go on more vacations.
Use credit card rewards.
Credit card rewards are one of my favorite ways to earn cheap vacations and save money on hotels. You can use credit cards just like you normally would (read the articles linked below for more information) and earn free hotel stays. Who wouldn’t want that?!
I recently signed up for the Chase Ink Bold Plus and I’ll receive 70,000 bonus points ($875 towards free travel) after I spend $5,000 in three months. $5,000 might seem like a lot, but it’s fairly easy for me to get there since I put most of my expenses on my credit card anyways.
Sign up for a hotel’s loyalty card.
No matter where we stay, we always sign up for a hotel’s loyalty card so that we can earn free hotel stays for the future. This way you can accrue points on the hotel’s member card (they are usually completely free) and accrue points on your credit card as well (if you can use credit cards responsibly). I have earned free hotel stays this way and it’s nice to earn double the points.
So, even if you book on a hotel discount site such as Booking.com, you can still use the hotel’s loyalty card as well. Don’t forget that!
There are other benefits to signing up for these cards as well. Sometimes you can score free hotel room upgrades, early checkins or late checkouts at a hotel, additional discounts, and more.
Be flexible with the dates for your stay.
A flexible schedule can save you a decent amount when booking where you will sleep. Staying on the weekends will usually be more expensive, and choosing a destination’s high season will most likely cost you more money as well.
If you can, then you may want to do some research and see what an accommodation’s rate is when just changing the date by a day or week or two. This is an important money saving tip and can possibly save you hundreds of dollars over your vacation.
I once looked at a hotel that charged over $300 a night for a room, and just a few weeks later they had a cheaper rate that was less that $50 a night. That is a HUGE difference for the same exact room.
Stay in short-term vacation homes such as Airbnb and VRBO.
My preferred way to travel is to stay in short-term rental vacation homes such as Airbnb and VRBO.
Staying in an Airbnb rental can be a great way to save money on your accommodations. Airbnb vacation home rates are usually comparable or cheaper than a hotel, plus you usually have more room and there is usually a kitchen as well. Also, if you have a lot of people going on vacation with you, you can usually split a house for a much cheaper price than it would be for everyone to get a hotel room.
Last year we stayed in Gulf Shores and paid $650 for 5 days in a beach house. This included cleaning fees, taxes, deposit (since we brought our dogs), and more. It was very affordable, and there were three bedrooms so we technically could have saved more money if we would have brought people with us to split the cost with.
Think about the whole cost when it comes to where you sleep.
We have been traveling with our dogs a lot, which means that there is usually an additional expense when staying anywhere.
The added expense can sometimes be free (we like LaQuinta because they do not charge for dogs so we know we can usually just show up with no problem) or it may even be an extra $100 per night. $100 extra per night for having your dogs can be a very large expense, and it can make a hotel completely unaffordable if you forget to budget it in.
Other costs you may want to think about include:
- Is the hotel’s internet an extra charge?
- Is there a resort fee?
- Does it cost money to use the hotel’s fitness center?
- How much is food at the hotel? If it’s expensive, are there other options nearby or are you stuck eating there?
- How much will it cost to get to where you are staying? If you are trying to save money so you have chosen to stay at a place far away, is it actually affordable anymore?
- How much is it for any extra people in the room? Many hotels will charge extra (such as $30 per person, per day) if there are more than two people in the room. Some will even charge extra if there is more than one person in the hotel room.
- Is there a cleaning fee? With short-term rentals, there might be a cleaning fee.
- How much is parking? I recently almost stayed at a hotel that had a $40 DAILY parking fee. That is just insane.
Ask for a discount.
My last vacation money saving tip is to simply ask for a discount. When you are looking at hotels, motels, short-term rentals, and more, simply ask if there are any discounts available. I usually book my trips at the last moment, and asking for a discount usually works for me because places are trying to fill up any remaining rooms.
Sometimes asking for a discount will work, other times it does not. It’s just a simple “Are there any available discounts I can receive?”
The worst that can happen is that they say no.
What’s the maximum you usually pay per night for a hotel or short-term rental? What money saving travel tips do you have to share?