Traveling is expensive: Americans spend $137 per night on average for hotel rooms alone, not to mention food, souvenirs, and the transportation to get there. But if you’re overpaying for your hotel room, it’s really no one’s fault but your own. With a little effort, ingenuity, and tact, you can sneak into some great deals—even on holiday weekends. But you have to ask! Here’s how:
1. Don’t click—call. Before you book a room, call the hotel itself (the specific location, not the chain’s 800 number) during business hours and get an actual human on the line to see if the hotel will match or beat rates you’ve found online. You typically won’t have to pay in advance and should something come up you’ll have a real name to work with, not a third party search site.
2. Know what you’re paying for. Some hotels charge a resort fee that may not be included in an online quote. Others charge for Wi-Fi, breakfast, the morning paper, or use of the gym. If you’re staying downtown, parking can cost $35 or more a day. To avoid unpleasant surprises, always ask about which fees are included and how much they’ll cost you.
3. Look for hidden gems. Smaller boutique hotels may not come up on search sites, since they don’t want to pay the often-pricey commissions to use them. So run a search directly through Google or Tripadvisor to track them down, then ask for a discount in honor of you supporting local business over a large chain.
4. Bundle, bundle, bundle. If you’re going on an extended trip, try to book your hotel, airfare, and car rental as one. Often large chains will have deals with each other to offer steeper discounts if you book together, plus this way all of your reservations are in one place (and under one customer service number) should anything come up.
5. Go big. In lieu of a hotel room, find a house or condo rental on AirBnb or VRBO. Because you’re dealing directly with the owner, you can sometimes get better deals for more space, especially if you’re traveling with a large group. This option also gives you a kitchen to cook meals in, which can help you to save big.