Whether you’re traveling to British Columbia’s largest city to search for a home among real estate in Vancouver or planning a vacation anywhere else, other than airfare, accommodation takes the biggest bite out of your budget. Of course, booking the cheapest possible option may not be the best idea, as where you stay can make or break the experience.
These tips can help you find cheap but comfortable accommodation for the best value possible.
Book at the Right Time
If at all possible, plan your trip during the off-season, which in most destinations is anytime outside of late spring through early fall. For a vacation in the Caribbean or another tropical destination, the off-season is generally summer. This is the time you can get the best rates on accommodation while avoiding the crowds too.
The day of the week can make the difference too. In popular tourist destinations, it’s usually cheaper to stay mid-week than on the weekend. The opposite can be true in major cities that tend to attract lots of business travelers, especially for hotels near a convention center. There, you’ll probably get a better rate on the weekend. The bottom line is, the more flexible you can be with your dates, the lower price you’re likely to pay.
Compare Hotel Rates on Multiple Sites
When searching for the best rates, compare prices on both third-party booking sites and the hotel sites themselves. Some give those who book directly the cheapest price and they may offer special discounts for longer stays. If you’re planning your trip around a holiday or special event, expect to pay more.
Don’t Forget About Transportation Costs
When searching for the best value don’t forget to consider transportation costs. While you’ll probably pay less by staying outside of a major city center, if there isn’t affordable transport to get there, you might end up paying more and losing precious time.
Sign Up for the Loyalty Program
You don’t have to be a frequent traveler to sign up for a hotel’s loyalty program. While that will likely get you quite a few benefits, including free nights, anyone can sign up to get the extra perks and possible discounts.
Consider Alternatives to Hotels
These days there are many alternatives to your standard hotel, including Airbnb, VRBO, and CouchSurfing. With a vacation rental like Airbnb or VRBO, you’re not only likely to pay less than a hotel, but you’ll probably enjoy more of the comforts of home. Many come with fully-equipped kitchens that help you save even more on the high cost of dining out, and they may have a washer/dryer too.
Hostels can also be a cheap way to stay in an expensive city, and most have private rooms in addition to dorm-style rooms at a very low cost. CouchSurfing will save you even more as you won’t pay anything at all, other than the cost of bringing your host a bottle of wine, dinner, or some groceries. For a long-term stay, house sitting may be an option, or you could sign up with an organization like World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). There are 60 national WWOOF organizations around the world, plus another 55 countries with hosts, bringing many different options. In exchange for a place to stay, you’ll volunteer to help out, which could be anything from actually working on a farm to greeting hostel guests.