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I am often asked how to save money on trips and traveling. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I have learned a few things trying to travel on a budget. One of the most expensive parts of traveling can be lodging. Lodging can be expensive! There is always the option to stay in a questionable motel, in a questionable area, or both. In my opinion, that isn’t the best option. I have found how to save money on a hotel, without the murder risk. Not being murdered is always a bonus.
How to save money on a hotel
This is where Hotwire.com comes in. I’ve been using Hotwire.com for over 10 years to book hotels, and I’ve had a very good experience overall. Out of all of the hotels that I have booked through Hotwire (dozens, if I had to guess) I’ve only had two that I wasn’t very happy with.
Hotwire.com now has two options. The original “Hot Rate” option of choosing a hotel by an area and rating, but not knowing what hotel it is until you book. If you frequently book hotels in the same area, you may figure out what the hotel is, even if it doesn’t say. For example, we know that we can book the Radisson in Branson, Missouri through Hotwire. We’ve done it several times! It’s the only hotel with it’s star rating in the area that we search, so we know we can get it. Of course, this can change at any time if new hotels are added or if ratings change, so you definitely can’t count on that working all the time.
In addition to the “Hot Rate” option, you can always look through hotels and book one at a higher price. I don’t find it to be any cheaper than Orbitz or any other travel site, but since it’s the same price I would probably still use it if I had to have a particular hotel.
You still kind of know what you’re getting
Even if we are staying in a new area, we still book through Hotwire. We always choose 2.5 to 3.5 star hotels. The prices will vary largely depending on the location and the time of year. While Hotwire doesn’t show you the hotel name, they do show the amenities. If you want to make sure that you have free parking, free internet, free wifi, or a pool, you can find out all of that information before booking. Typically 3.5 star hotels and above don’t have the freebies that 2.5 or 3 star hotels have, like free wifi or breakfast. If you’re traveling with a family, it may be worth paying a couple dollars more for free breakfast.
How to use Hotwire
If you’re unfamiliar with Hotwire.com, I will walk you through how to use it in just a few easy steps!
Hotwire will display the results and will split the area you’re searching into selections. If you only want to search certain areas, you can click on those areas and the others will not be displayed in the list on the left.
As you can see, there are a variety of star ratings, areas, and amenities shown. For example, if you needed a hotel to stay in the night before a flight, the second one listed would be a good choice. It’s an airport area hotel with a shuttle, and is a good deal at $52/night for a 3 star. It also has free wifi, which is important to me. It is rated a little lower than I’d like. I do pay attention to the guest recommendation level, I try to book hotels that are rated 75% or above.
Once you choose a hotel, you will be able to see even more about it. Hotwire will give you an overview of the hotel details, which rooms are available, and also what hotels it might be. In my experience, many of the 2.5 star hotels are Holiday Inn Express or La Quinta hotels. Of course this will vary by area, so there isn’t really any way of knowing without booking.
I’ve only had two less than positive experiences booking through Hotwire.com, one was several years ago and that hotel has since shut down. We also stayed at the Clarion in Oklahoma City. It was rated a 3.5 but the hotel was pretty run down and not at all what we expected. The star rating on that hotel was pretty far off, in my opinion. Neither of these were major issues, but I did want to mention it because you really don’t know what you’re getting until you book
One more option
Since the initial writing of this post, I have really gotten into vacation rentals. Vacation rentals can cost less than hotels, and have more amenities! I have been using AirBnb to book my vacation rentals, and I have been very satisfied. Use my link to get $40 off your first Airbnb stay!
How to you save money on a hotel? How do you feel about vacation rentals? If you have any other helpful tips, please share them in the comments!