Traveling and hotels can add up quickly. But with a little flexibility and research, it’s possible to stretch your travel budget. One key is avoiding high-season lodging rates. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can get deals during the winter or summer when hotels are less likely to fill up.
Another way to save is through the use of aggregator apps that scour hotel, airline and car rental company websites for deals. And don’t forget about loyalty programs for hotels and airlines. Some programs, like Hilton Honors, offer perks and free upgrades that can be worth the annual fee. Other hotel loyalty programs, like Starwood Preferred Guest, let you earn points that can be redeemed for free stays.
When choosing a hotel, remember that no single chain suits every traveler. Some are more luxe than you can afford, while others have a Spartan, low-cost reputation. A good rule of thumb is to stick with familiar brands, as those tend to have higher satisfaction scores than a one-off or independent property.
Hostels and Airbnb are two popular alternatives to hotels. Both have a range of sizes, from small “mom-and-pop” joints to huge resorts. They can also vary in atmosphere, from quiet spaces for digital nomads to rowdy party hostels.
For families traveling together, or travelers who are on business, hotels are often the best option. They usually have family-friendly facilities such as kitchens, laundry rooms and playgrounds. They can also provide a level of safety, security and services not available in a hostel or Airbnb.