Travel Tips: How to Book a Cheaper Hotel Room

military Spouse on Balcony at Paradise Hotel in Busan

We all want a cheaper hotel room, and searching for travel hacks that help us save money on hotels is essential. Whether you travel occasionally or frequently, getting a great deal on your hotel stay is crucial for an enjoyable experience and leaving positive reviews. It seems like hotel rates keep increasing every year.

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reception-desk Travel Tips: How to Book a Cheaper Hotel Room
Take the time to get to know the hotel staff. We actually got upgraded to a deluxe room once when they overbooked standard rooms.

Tips For a Cheaper Hotel Room

And what hoteliers consider a “full day” keeps decreasing. You can find many hotels with check-in at 4 pm and checkout at 11 am, which is quite inconvenient. I love looking for soft openings (Google hotel soft openings), but there are other useful tips you can employ to save money on accommodations.

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Avoid the Weekends

Avoid weekends and holidays for a cheaper room. Hotels in popular destinations often raise their rates on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes charging as much as three times more than Sunday through Thursday nights.

hotel-spas Travel Tips: How to Book a Cheaper Hotel Room
Who doesn’t like a spa day? Many hotels have spas in them, make sure you aren’t paying for their costs if you aren’t going to take advantage of them. It’s guaranteed that here in Asia, you’ll get a better deal on a spa visit outside of the hotel. And if they do have a spa, ask for a discount or try to work it into your hotel room charge.

Look for Extras

Does your room come with a microwave, fridge, free WIFI, and parking? Do they offer free video games for kids, massages, concierge service, or shuttles? If you can’t get a cheaper room rate, try to negotiate for some extra perks. The more services included in your rate, the better value for your money. Just make sure they are extras you’ll use, or else what’s the point?

Look into Rewards or Loyalty Programs

Do you usually stay at the same hotel or use the same chain when you travel? Sign up for their rewards program. You can accumulate points for free nights, services, and upgrades, and receive email notifications on future promotions and packages. The discounts can lead to upgrades as well as cheaper hotel room rates.

Stay Outside of the Tourist Centers

While it’s tempting to stay in the middle of the action, opting for a cheaper hotel room often means avoiding the touristy areas. Frequently, you end up paying more for the convenience. Look for hotels just outside the city or city center for better deals, especially if the transportation system is cheap and convenient.

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Upgrade to a Suite

Traveling with a larger group or a kid or two? Upgrading to a suite can be cost-effective instead of booking adjoining rooms. We saved over $100 recently by having our son sleep on the pullout sofa in the living room of our suite. Additionally, a corner room and a rollaway bed might be all you need.

Ask for a FREE Upgrade

This works for room category upgrades, corner rooms, breakfast, late checkouts, and more. All they can do is say no. And if you are in the military, ask if they have a military rate. Most hotels do. I sometimes use my military ID at check-in to “encourage” an upgrade or free breakfast.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to ask. We were once upgraded from a standard room to a deluxe room when they overbooked. It was a pleasant surprise to be visited by the hotel manager, asking if we “didn’t mind” the upgrade. We packed our bags before leaving for the day, and the staff moved them. We were overwhelmed by the new room, which had two floors and some outdoor space.

Have an Early Morning Flight?

Don’t pay the full price; ask for a half-day rate. Some hotels, like the Sanae Hotel in Chiang Mai, even have rooms specifically for this purpose. These rooms are identical, except they are located on the ground floor and don’t have a window. Who cares if you just need a place to hang out before your red-eye flight?

Carry Snacks

Unless you have deep pockets or an urge to splurge, don’t grab anything from the minibar. Carry a few snacks or take a trip to the grocery store for cereal, milk, bread, and deli meats to tide you over until dinner.

Search for Rates in a Private Window

The price of hotel rooms, airfare, rental cars, etc., is directly linked to the number of searches performed by browsers. Although opinions on this may vary, experts suggest that searching for rates in a private browser can trick the algorithms and save you money.

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Don’t Skip the Reviews

Read the reviews. Don’t get caught off guard by potential charges, fees, or surcharges. Make sure you know whether a service or amenity offered is of great value or valueless.

Sarai-pool Travel Tips: How to Book a Cheaper Hotel Room
Traveling during the offseason can result in tremendous savings. Certain facilities, like the pool, may be closed during the offseason. Consider whether you need access to a pool or if it would enhance or detract from your vacation.

Consider the Offseason/ Do Some Research

Some of my best trips were made during the offseason when tourist crowds and hotel rates are lower. However, you need to do your research. The offseason in many places aligns with weather conditions, and you’ll have a miserable time going to the beach during a hurricane. But often, the high season is determined by travel patterns. For example, high season in Phuket begins around Christmas, so we always go the first week of December. The weather is perfect, hotel rates are more negotiable, and the tourist crowds haven’t arrived yet. Get creative.

Do you travel in the offseason to save money? Let me know in the comments below.

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    1. duffelbagspouse

      I am glad you are saving money on flights. I use it all the time now too and hoping the savings start to pile up.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      If your gonna your gonna save money on a hotel— the Atlantis is a great place to do it… its beautiful.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you Sara. There is a hotel we stay at in Busan South Korea, but we’ve stayed there 5x. So every single time, I stop at the desk and say hello and ask for some incentive. The first three times, nothing. The fourth time we got free breakfast and the last time w were upgraded to a suite. It doesn’t cost them anything to do that, the room was empty, right? Having them say no didn’t stop me from trying and eventually it worked.

  1. Jenny

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. But in my personal experience I’d be more likely to sleep in my car at a truck stop. Hotel rooms are kinda… gross. At least the ones I’ve been in.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thats interesting. I’m sure there are some gross hotels out there, these tips wouldn’t apply to those.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      It seems hotel rates keep going up every year while what the hoteliers consider a “full day” keeps going down. You can find a number of hotels that check in is 4pm and checkout is 11am. That’s ridiculous. A few common sense tips and a little imagination can add up to big savings.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Some of my best trips were made in the offseason where tourists and hotel rates are low. But you have to do your research. The offseason in many places coincides with weather and you will have a miserable time if you go to the beach during a hurricane. But many times the high season is dictated by travel patters. High season in Phuket, for instance, begins around Christmas, so we always go the first week of December. The weather is perfect, hotel rates are more negotiable, and the throngs of winter birds haven’t even left the nests yet. Get creative.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      So true. When we learned we were traveling to Daegu I searched for information about military life, apartment hunting and what to expect in South Korea but found very little. I hope my blog helps ease the transition anxiety of military spouses and civilians who find themselves moving or traveling to Daegu, South Korea or any of the beautiful countries in Asia… so we could all have more money to explore the region.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You are so right travel hacks are one of the most searched keywords on the Internet today because travelers the world over want to receive maximum value for their money.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Yes the season has a lot to do with price. In many cases it will determine how much a hotel is willing to negotiate with you on prices and services.

  2. Elizabeth O.

    There are also hotels that are partnered with airlines that give you discounts when you choose that specific airline. Apart from that, these are all awesome hacks!

  3. Chloe

    I’ve never heard of the private window tip but now I am curious to try! I only learned a couple of years ago that you usually can easily get a later checkout- all you have to do it ask! I haven’t asked for an upgrade though!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Oh yeah, it supposed to hep disguise your searches so they don’t become a part of the algorithms hotels use to jack up the prices. For more tips take a look at 30 Ways to ‘Travel’ Without Leaving Home and Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality in 2016. You want to know where we’ve been this year, take a look at The 2016 Year in Review. Make sure you Subscribe to the Duffelbagspouse Travels RSS feed and get updates delivered right into your inbox.

  4. AJ Money Matters

    These are great tips! I always read the reviews now when i’m looking at hotels as I’ve heard so many stories where people arrive at their room and it’s no where near what was advertised!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Without a doubt. You learn stuff the hotels don’t want you to know or don’t include on their websites.

  5. Steven Goodwin @ MyFamilyOnABudget

    These are some excellent tips! Definitely never hurts to ask for the free upgrade! Most people are afraid of confrontation and the businesses know this!
    My favorite one was upgrading if you are thinking about getting adjoining rooms! I had never thought about that, great idea!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thanks Steven. You always have great comments that add to my blog posts, its truly appreciated. But yes, it worked out the last time we did it and saved quite a bit of money.

  6. Author Brandi Kennedy

    These are great tips! I had no idea about the private window thing, and never would have thought to ask about half-day rates. I’ll remember that for when I’m in the traveling phase of my life (hopefully not too far in the distant future).

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Oh yeah, it supposed to help disguise your searches so they don’t become a part of the algorithms hotels use to jack up the prices. And the half day rate/ rooms… you just have to ask about it. The ones that won’t make allowances can only say no.


    I had no idea about the half day rate thing! I will have to look into this! We’re taking a trip to see my inlaws and only need a hotel the night before our flight heads home so we don’t have to get up at 3 am to drive 3 hours for 8am flight.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Check it out and see if they have the half day rate/ rooms… you just have to ask about it. The ones that won’t make allowances can only say no.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Then you are already ahead of the game because you are vigilant. Some parts of travel has gotten so expensive its a necessity. I hope you come back to see more travel tips for Korea and around the world.

  8. Krysten

    My hubby is awesome at getting cheaper hotels and cheaper everything. I swear he has the gift of gab. I am sharing these tips with him for our next vacation!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I’m the one always front and center, when we travel abroad. My English is clearer to foreigners than my Mississippi hubby, but I’m also the one with the temper, so from time to time, I have to step back.

  9. Andrea Broom

    Really good ideas here to get cheaper hotel rooms. I didn’t know about the private window. Thanks for the tip! Really appreciate it. Free upgrades, true they can only say no.

  10. Agnes

    Great tips. I’m not sure but I think it might be helpful to also clear the browsing history after searching for the room rates, but not be making an immediate purchase. At least I know that the airlines put their prices up each time you return to their page. Also, great advice about booking the suite when you are with a larger group. I never thought that this could become actually less expensive.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you, I will add that tip to my duffel bag of tips. Sure, the rooms were $100 each, but the suite was $144, saving us $56 plus tax and fees… you always gotta remember room fees. lol

  11. Gate to Experience

    Thank you for these nice tips! I am using loyalty program in but the truth is that sometimes you really find cheaper fares using incognito window of your browser (if the web browser sees you came to some offer second time, it means you have real interest in purchase therefore the price is higher)… it is also wise to check the website of an accommodation, sometimes they can guarantee the best price through direct booking 🙂

    1. duffelbagspouse

      That is so true. I’ve gone to the website directly and a few times the price is the same or even better. We often neglect doing this because or travelocity allows us to search multiple prices. But on recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia the flights were so much cheaper going directly to Vietnam Air.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      No not a VPN. To open a private window, open your browser and under the file tab, select private window. I added a screen shot to the article too for reference.

  12. Swati & Sam

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. We do carry snacks, it is much more convenient and cheaper than using the mini-bar. By far the most useful thing while booking hotels is reading reviews about the hotel.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I agree. Reviews are low hanging fruit, a goldmine of ulfiltered information but I know a lot of people who igjore them esp. if the hotel has a high rating.

  13. Josie

    Some great suggestions there! You are right that it’s important to research. It’s surprising how often there are extra charges that can be easily found by a bit of searching.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Especially with all the info already out there. Most of us review everything these days as part of our blogs anyway. As my hubby always told our kids, the Internet is for ore than just fb and playing online games. lol

  14. Flo

    These are great tips! I’ve heard the one about browsing in incognito/private mode but have yet to try it – will have to give it a go the next time I look up flights and hotels!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I’ve done it. The thing is how do you confirm unless you then look in a regular browsing window. I too plan on doing it more often as well as putting more energy into my loyalty programs game this year.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Like I said all they can say is no. And if that’s all that can happen I’ll ask for an upgrade every time.

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