The Best Ways To Save Money On Lodging and Avoid Being Over-Charged

Whether you travel on business or just for vacations and special occasions like meet ups, weddings or family gatherings, you should not have to pay through the nose for a nice place to stay. I have spent a good portion of my life traveling by myself and with my family for both business and pleasure. I learned a lot of hard lessons along the way and am happy to share them with you. Keep an open mind and if you are new to traveling avoid the number one problem all new travelers face: Wishful Thinking. That comes from the double-edged sword of the excitement about being away for the first time and believing all the hype that hotel and attraction brochures, web sites and ads try to create for travelers. Use your head, keep calm and take the steps necessary to make any trip you take a successful one.

Some Simple Tips

Everyone who has tired of spending the big holidays with relatives eventually decides to visit one of the top theme parks or attractions in the USA during those busy times. In just Orlando alone that means that an extra four to six million people will invade that area and visit the Florida mouse house, as well as other well-known area attractions, during the weeks that include the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays. During these peak times everything costs more and that is Lesson One for vacationers: Visit these kinds of places during the off season and save a bundle. Not only will hotels and other rental choices be much cheaper, but you will also save on gas, food, attraction tickets and just about anything else you need to buy or spend money for on the road.

Experienced travelers know that hotels charge much more from Friday to Sunday. If you can stay during the Monday to Thursday corridor, you will probably get a better rate and might benefit from specials involving discount food, beverages or other amenities innkeepers throw in to attract travelers during the mid-week slump. Add to those savings by joining loyalty clubs or using discount cards that some hotels give out (Stay Two Days, Get One Free; Get A Free Upgrade and so on).

Check the social media sites of places where you might want to stay. Get promotion codes and then get on the phone. Call the front desk of the hotel where you are interested in staying and ask for their best or lowest non-refundable rate. Truckers usually get the best “rack rates” by making calls like these because all most of them care about is a bed and shower, so hotels can palm off their less then desirable rooms on them without many complaints. Vacationers or business travelers will likely end up with the sane rate and a higher quality room because these travelers expect more and tend to complain when they feel slighted or cheated. Today’s innkeepers fear bad online feedback more than anything else.

Check YELP!, the online Better Business Bureau and other similar web sites for honest reviews and assessments of hotels. If bed bugs are mentioned, stay away! Look for other important issues like excessive or unfair room charges or complaints about credit card fraud. I used to say that I would rather give my credit card to a complete stranger than to a front desk hotel clerk because I have been over-charged so many times over the years. For a while I simply paid cash until that became impractical, however, I still suggest using cash instead of credit whenever you can. And by the way: READ those room charges and fees CAREFULLY to make sure they are correct BEFORE you sign any final hotel bill upon checking out. Always check out in person even if it takes some time and question any charges that you do not recognize or understand. Dispute them there and then and get any billing problems resolved before you leave the property. Using automatic check out is a great way for some properties to overcharge your card and many will.

Start any journey with a strict budget if that is possible. Vacationers and new travelers often fall prey to impulse spending on deals and offers thrown in front of them. Fast talking tour and entertainment sales people often attack travelers waiting in line to check in and fast talk them into all sorts of deals. When you walk past those kinds of salespeople in kiosks or at desks in the lobby, keep walking! Save even more and stay smart by learning as much about the places you plan on visiting as possible. Sometimes you can save a small fortune, avoid crowd crushes and still get to where you need to go by staying a few blocks or miles away. That also tends to have the added affect of saving you on things like parking and food which go for premium prices in busy or very popular areas.

Save Money With Hotel Alternatives

Some people have been renting individual-owned condos or vacation houses for years as an alternative to staying in hotels. I began doing this in the early 1990s when I visited the Orlando, Florida area. I saved money and had what amounted to a complete home or apartment set up available to myself and my family. That often meant two bathrooms, lots of room for the kids to be kids, easily accessible or even in-rental laundry facilities, and a comfortable setting where you can kick back and relax after a long day of visiting the tourist traps. In many cases local calls are free, a pool is available nearby or (in the case of vacation homes) on the rental property and there is normally easy “pull right up to the rental” parking. Despite all these plusses, there can be down sides.

Some of the condos we rented were not as clean or well kept as moderately priced hotel rooms. Others had to be paid well in advance and were made available through a broker who only collected the money, had you sign the rental contract on the dotted line and handed you a key all before you even got to inspect the property. That meant that if there were any sort of problems like a lack of cleanliness, no towels or kitchen supplies, bugs or even air conditioning that was not operating correctly, you had to contact the owner directly and good luck doing that. And there can often be some other un-welcomed surprises as well…

The first time I rented a vacation home in Orlando we found out that it had a pool, but that we had to pay an extra daily charge for the pool heater to be turned on. Since it that happened in the fall, it was a real problem. In another case the owner had scheduled extensive landscaping and some basic upgrades to his home while we were renting it. Almost every time we wanted to go into the pool there was dust and loose grass flying around everywhere as the Landscaping Crew did their work. The kitchen and one bathroom out of two were unavailable to us for several days of our rental while contractors performed the upgrades.

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