Booking accommodation is likely to be one of your highest expenses when travelling. By securing great deals and knowing where to find cheap accommodation you’ll save huge amounts of money. Great deals on accommodation are found all across the world, so learning how to save money on hotels/hostels will help you to keep more money in your pocket or able to spend on activities.
Like finding the cheapest airfares, finding cheap accommodation also requires some knowledge and experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and sites out there to help you with that. One of the biggest travel myths out there is that you need to be independently wealthy to see the world. This is simply not true. Travel can be very affordable, especially when you know where and how to look.
For us, it’s not always about finding the cheapest accommodation in each place, but more about getting the best deal and value for money. Therefore we like to think of it as, Luxurybackpacking!
Your choice of accommodation may depend on:
- Travel style e.g. luxury, budget backpacker, family etc…
- Number of travellers
- Time of year
- Length of trip
All of the above points, may affect where, when and how you stay, when trying to find cheap accommodation. If you’re like us, and don’t necessarily want to stay in the cheapest accommodation possible, but instead want to find amazing error offers or huge discounts on hotels then we may be of help!
Top Tips on How to Find Cheap Accommodation
Hotel Comparison Sites
There are many online comparison sites, also called meta-search engines that allow you compare many different online travel agencies. They’re great to easily compare different sites prices on each hotel in that specific destination. It is worth making sure that you check on several comparison sites, as not each website will be offering the same room for the same price.
Within these meta-search engines there are options available, meaning that you can search for hotels based on price range, as well as searching for places within a certain distance of a particular attractions or the city centre of your chosen destination.
Here are our favourite hotel comparison sites:
- Trivago: has a fantastic interface, everything being neatly arranged, quick filter options and the possibility of searching a whole region instead of having to go through different cities.
- Kayak: very large interface, make sure to check before booking as it does sometimes take more booking platforms into account than Trivago.
- Momondo: really great user friendly set-up. Has a visual map for easy location of all hotels, when you hover over a deal, the location lights up, we love this feature!
Think About Your Location
Generally, the further out of the city or main attractions that you go, the easier you’ll find cheap accommodation. However before you book, think about the extra transportation costs it will incur. If you calculate it will come out to more, or even the same the seriously consider staying in a more central location.
By staying in a central area close to public transport, airports, local attractions, food outlets, etc…you’ll have the ability to get out and walk to most things, saving you a lot of money and time.
Look Out for Free Nights & Upgrades
Many hotels offer special deals for those who stay longer than 1 or 2 nights. You may find a few hotels offering promotion nights like, stay 5 nights for the price of 4, or upgrade to free half board. These type of deals often occur during low-season. You may not necessarily find cheap accommodation, but the packages it includes may work out cheaper when calculating all costs.
Having free half board at one hotel, may work out cheaper than buying a slightly less expensive hotel but having to pay for food. Make sure to figure out those costs before booking.
Choose Your Destination Wisely
A huge factor which can change the cost of your accommodation is the country you’re travelling in. For example the price of a hostel in Sydney can cost the same as a decent 4 star hotel in Bangkok! If you’re wanting to get more bang for your buck and find cheap accommodation, seriously consider where you want to travel, and how far your money will get you in each destination.
Travel in Off-Season/Low Season
Prices of hotels differ greatly depending on the season you travel in.
One of the obvious tips on how to find cheap accommodation is by traveling in low season.
Accommodation costs will be significantly cheaper and a lot quieter than high season and school holidays. The only downside may be the weather, for example monsoon season in Asia or summer in the middle east. But if you’re not too fussed about that, you’ll grab an insanely good deal!
We’ve done lot’s of low-season travelling, and it was never worse than in high season! Don’t be put off with travelling during this season, as many times it can be better!
This is also a great way to grab a deal on flights!
For example, we’ve travelled to the Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman during low season and saved at least 50% from the high season price!
Stay in an Airbnb
If you’re a couple, group of friends or family, this is one of our favourite ways to find cheap accommodation!
Airbnb is a great way to cut costs, if you’re not on your own. It is usually cheaper and more practical than a hotel. If you’re traveling with other family members or another couple why not get your own house/apartment and split the cost?
Airbnb allows people to find houses, apartments and private rooms all over the world that are available for short and medium-term rent.
Check out: Advantages of staying in an Airbnb!
Are a great accommodation option if you’re travelling solo, on a tight budget or backpacking. We’ve stayed in hostels all over the world, from Australia, Philippines, Thailand to Hungary. It’s an awesome way of meeting like minded travellers, and being located right in the city with great transport links.
Many hostels around the world don’t just have dorm rooms for backpackers. Many offer private and family rooms so they can be one of the best cheap alternatives to hotels.
One thing we do highly recommend is reading the hostel reviews BEFORE booking anything, look for the highest rating AND most reviews. You don’t want to be turning up at some dodgy unkept hostel with no vibe or travellers. Sometimes paying a little more can prevent this from happening.
Our Favourite Hostel Booking Site:
- Hostelworld: has the easiest, most user friendly website and app, with almost every hostel in the world listed on it. In fact, most hostels even use it as their primary booking channel, so you’ll be sure to always find up to date availability and prices, legitimate reviews and your hostel will get your booking through the second you click the button.
- Booking.com: has it’s own section for purely hostels. We always check here before booking anything, as sometimes we find great deals that weren’t on Hostelworld.
Book Rooms That Offer Free Cancellation
Booking accommodation in well in advance, can lead secure you a great deal, leaving it till the last minute can be risky. Make sure to keep an eye on prices to see if you can get a better deal at another property, or even at the same hotel later down the line.
Therefore, booking a hotel with free cancellation will allow you to secure a hotel as a back up incase no other deals arise before your departure date. Many also use the book now, pay later which allows you to lock in that rate with some flexibility. Just check the booking conditions per room type and you’ll have peace of mind when booking.
Use Hotel Reward Programs
Using hotel reward programs is free and easy, yet it will treat you to some nice surprises in the future. Collecting points in the loyalty programs of the hotel you stay at won’t hurt. We started out very slowly, but by now we’ve accumulated over half a million points potentially worth over US$10,000 if redeemed correctly.
In our opinion, the Hilton Honors program offers the best value for budget-conscious travellers, and it is also the program that we mostly focus on for our own travels. Check out: Why Hilton Honors is the best program for Luxurybackpackers.
But staying at hotel chains like Marriott, IHG, Hilton or Hyatt is not for everyone, and even though you can potentially get great value out of them, a lot of people prefer to have the flexibility of just choosing whatever seems best:
If you are not planning on using any specific chain, your best option is Hotels.com to find cheap accommodation, where you get one free night after every ten paid nights. The free night will have the average value of the paid nights, so if you paid for five nights costing US$60 each and another five nights costing US$90 each, you’re entitled to a free night worth US$75.
Be an Undercover Spy When Searching for Cheap Accommodation
To stop this from happening, make sure to always search incognito or in private browsing mode to see the lowest prices. If you’re unsure how to open a private browsing window follow these simple steps:
- Google Chrome/Safari: Command (Ctrl if using a PC) + Shift + N.
- Mozilla Firefox/Internet Explore: Command (Ctrl if using a PC) + Shift + P.
These short steps will open a new browser window that looks similar to the image below and may help you find cheap accommodation.
Every time you open a new incognito window your cookies are reset. Therefore, if you want to start with a clean sheet before each hotel search, remember to close all your incognito windows, follow the steps above, and then perform your hotel search.
Overal Best Booking Sites
We’ve been travelling constantly in search of the best deals for many years now, and with Yannick having a job in this field we know A LOT about securing great deals without substituting on luxury. We have come to rely on a few trusted sites that help us to save money and time while searching.
We love the booking site for hotels as they have a promotional code active all the time, just changing the code for it every month or so! You will receive 16% OFF each hotel you book. Which is a pretty sweet deal! Find out the latest deal.
Is one of the largest booking sites out there. With over 1.3 million worldwide in 200 countries, you definitely won’t be short of accommodation options.
They have all the major brands, plus you can find a variety of low-cost independently owned hotels on here, that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
Airbnb is a site we use often on our travels as a way to get low-cost apartments, or even rent out people’s entire homes. We’ve rented in the Philippines, Gold Coast and Budapest.
Airbnb are in 180 countries world wide and offer a great way to connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay, whether you need an apartment for a night or a home for a month.
If you are new to Airbnb, we have a £30 (US$40/AUD$50) credit voucher when you sign up here!
Without a doubt, Hostelworld is our favourite booking platform for Hostels. It has the easiest, most user friendly website and app, with almost every hostel in the world listed on it.
In fact, most hostels even use it as their primary booking channel, so you’ll be sure to always find up to date availability and prices, legitimate reviews and your hostel will get your booking through the second you click the button.
We hope our strategies and favourite booking sites will help you to find cheap accommodation when travelling!
- How to Find the Cheapest Airfares
- How to get 16% Off Every Hotel you Book
- The Advantages of using Airbnb + Coupon Code
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