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How Solo Travelers Can Spend Less on Hotel Nights
Hotel costs consume between 40-75 % of my trips' overall costs - a huge chunk of my travel budget.
This gives me serious reasons to seek out ways to shrink these expenses.
What do you do to reduce you spendings on hotel nights?
Are you sure you know enough?
As a solo traveler, I take active action to minimize my hotel expenses - and I will share my price-cutting techniques with you in this article.
I'm writing from the more exigent solo traveler's perspective: couchsurfing is out, hostels and even Airbnb are out... "nothing below a hotel" is the general rule, no compromise on basic comfort, safety or privacy...
We can count hostals in (which are rather like hotels), they're not hostels (they're widely popular in Spain) - basically you get all the facilities and benefits that a buget hotel would provide.
So, let's see how it can work out for you!
Source: © iStock.com/mooltfilm
An average trip's costs are composed of the following elements: flight costs + accommodation costs + the costs of meals + local services (tours, entry fees etc.) + others.
You can do a lot less with flights: compare flights, book at the right time, find a coupon... you will always have more choices when it comes to accommodation. Spend less on your stay and your overall expenses will be smaller.
#1 First step: set a target cost pe night
How much is "cheap" for you? You'll need to set a target price to look for (but also take account of the destination's price levels and the season).
If you're a budget traveler who is avoiding hostels and is focusing on low cost hotels, then a realistic (cheap) value per night to calculate with would be 35 € (that's approx. 43 $). For most destinations this will be realistic.
35 € per night is realistic for places like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Brazil, Turkey, the UAE etc.
But even 50 € per night will be very hard to achieve in places like: the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau or Singapore.
Countries like Norway, Finland will go much higher than that lavel. Calculate with rates of 60-75 € per night. Anything below would come as a great gift!
On the other hand, among the cheapest prices per night are in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru for even less than 20 € and, you still get decent services!
Do your research on multiple sites: Booking.com, Agoda.com, Hotels.com, Tripadvisor.com, Hotwire.com, Priceline.com, etc. and try to understand the minimal price levels for "acceptable" hotels at your exact destination.
Set your limit, pick a number of hotels, but don't book - then start digging for even lower costs.
#2 Join a club to accumulate reward points, earn discounts
Some hotel booking sites will give loyalty points to their members.
These can later be used for earning price cuts - if enough rewards add up, then you can even get free hotel nights!
There used to be a site called HotelClub.net, which allowed the collection of bonuses. The site has merged with Hotels.com in 2016. I was "lucky" to have used them all the way up to a few weeks before the merger had occurred.
Hotels.com vows to give away every 11th hotel night for free. But only for members (it doesn't cost a dime, you can join right away).
The system calculates the average cost of your last 10 hotel nights booked and gives you a one night worth bonus (based on that average price).
So, if your average cost per night for the 10 nights booked was 45 €, then you earn an 11th night bonus worth exactly 45 €.
That's a tremendous discount: use this site and your every 11th hotel night will come for free!
#3 Hotel hopping: move from hotel to hotel
Hotel rates rarely stay the same every day - they tend to oscillate, but we don't see the prices listed on most websites.
So, normally you have to check different dates and play around with the prices. Just split your schedule and move from hotel to hotel - only when you have a longer itinerary.
For instance, if you stay 5 days at a location, then it could be cheaper to stay at 2-3 different hotels. Just move from one hotel to the other by taking account of which hotel is cheaper on that particular day.
#4 Reserve, but don't pre-pay and sniff for last minute rates
The idea is to make reservations "for safety", but be on the lookout for last minute prices 2-3 weeks before your normal check-in date.
On most online booking sites you don't have to pay in advance.
Some hotel booking sites will allow you to cancel the reservation as late as 2-3 nights before check-in without paying any additonal fees. Don't wait that long, you can normally solve this issue 1 week ahead of departure.
After having booked, take a look around on sites publishing last minute hotel discounts: LatestMinuteTravel.com, LateRooms.com or others.
Generally, the best time to look for these last minute hotel rates is 2-3 weeks before check-in. Of course: not all of the prices listed on those hotels are really "last minute" - you can also book in advance.
Found a good deal? Book it an cancel your advance booking. With late deals you can save between 50-75 % if you're lucky!
#5 Book for pre-season or end-season
From my experience: pre-season prices on hotels are the lowest.
They tend to be below the after-season rates. Although, the general belief is that the latter are the lowest.
European summer is between June and August. Yet, you can still catch great weather in Mediterranean countries as early as April and great warm weather in May. Prices will be lower!
Although, if you travel towards the end of the season to Spain, for instance, then you'll have to focus on September and October. It will be cheaper, but pre-season (April and May) tend to have the lowest prices and much better weather.
People tend to decide more often for the late-season or the end-season periods. Or, they stay longer than the main season, extending their holidays.
#6 Don't forget the coupons
But, instead of just hitting the coupon sites, it's best joining a number of social media channels and newsletters of hotel booking sites. They tend to promote special deals and coupons through their Facebook or Twitter channels.
Another quick way is to just hit Google Search for the period when you want to travel (example: "may hotel coupons") and also try the same thing by destination (example: "Barcelona hotel coupons").
#7 Hotel alerts and newsletters
Priceline's Hotel Bid Alerts section and the site HotelRoomAlerts.com sites will alert you when a good opportunity for booking arises.
Especially interesting is the latter (HotelRoomAlerts.com), which sends you a free text message or e-mail whenever a booked hotel room becomes available again.
Perhaps it's not that bad to opt-in for newsletters (after all, you want to save, right?).
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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