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It’s easy to blow your travel budget on full-price lodging. Learn how to get cheap hotel rooms so you can spend your hard-earned cash on something more memorable.
1. Compare sites and deals
Start with sites like Kayak, Expedia or Priceline.com to get an overview of hotels in your desired area, but don’t rely on them to give you the full picture. Go on to research those hotels on your own. Search for promotion codes and perks such as free parking, breakfast or WiFi.
And don’t neglect a hotel’s own website. Some chains promise the best rate when you book via their site.
2. Negotiate your rate
Once you know the lay of the land, select a few favorites and pick up the phone. Tell the hotel the price you found via other sites and see if they can beat it.
3. Look for last-minute deals
Apps like HotelTonight and One:Night specialize in helping last-minute travelers get cheap hotel rooms. Sites such as Hotels.com and Hotwire also list deals for just a day or two in advance.
Last-minute bookings don’t work in every circumstance, though. Traveling for a crowded conference or holiday can lead to a spike in demand — and price.
4. Explore alternative accommodations
Finding a hotel isn’t your only lodging option. You can rent a room, apartment or entire house via sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.
Hostels are a great option for budget travelers, especially those venturing outside of the U.S. Don’t worry — you don’t need to share a dorm-style room with a mass of 19-year-olds (unless you want to). Most hostels offer a handful of private rooms with en suite bathrooms.
5. Pick a different neighborhood
Staying in the heart of the city typically costs more. Save a few bucks by staying away from the city center, but near public transportation for easy downtown access.
In Chicago, for example, you can book the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for $152 per night, according to a recent search on Expedia. The hotel is just a few minutes' walk from the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line, giving you easy access to the airport and downtown Chicago. By comparison, staying at the Hyatt Regency downtown will run you $299 per night.
6. Use your affiliations
Seniors, government employees, students, members of the military and AAA members may qualify for discounted hotel rates when traveling. Ask the hotel before booking or look for deals via websites such as AARP, Military.com and AAA.com.