How to Find a Cheap Hotel Room

February 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

According to Nomadic Matt (no, not me), former cubicle dweller and 9-to-5-er turned full-time traveler, finding a cheap hotel room isn’t as much about database results as it is about knowing what you want.

Having traveled the world full time since 2006 and authoring How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, he qualifies as an expert about how to do worldwide travel on the cheap. While he typically stays in hostels and books through Airbnb, he knows that there comes a time when those options aren’t available or may not be preferred by other travelers.

So he did a little experiment. He created an itinerary and plotted it on the major hotel booking sites, Agoda,, HotWire, Orbitz, and Travelocity. What he found surprised him.

Hotel pricing is a lot more set than airline pricing and tends to fluctuate less. I wouldn’t spend hours searching hotel websites or days tracking prices like people do with airline prices. I’d spend, at the most, 30 minutes on booking a hotel. I found that the variation between sites isn’t enough to justify more time.

Hotel room in the Renaissance Columbus, OHHe did find that there were two clear winners in this site war experiment: and While they didn’t aggregate the largest number of places to compare, each provided him with the best selection of cheap establishments.

His opinion of Orbitz and Travelocity were mixed because both are owned by Expedia and therefore pull from the same databases for their results. He also found that they tended to provide results toward higher end of what he was requesting.

While he felt Priceline and Hotwire gave him excellent results, he didn’t like not knowing what hotel he was choosing until after he’d paid for his irrevocable reservation.

Based on his research, here are Matt’s suggestions for booking a cheap hotel.

Look at hotel websites directly. They often offer deals and will match whatever price you find on another website. Booking directly allows you to accrue loyalty points, which translate into free nights in the future, but you can only rack up points if you book direct.

About loyalty programs—sign up. “The best way to stay cheap is to stay for free,” Matt says. There are other ways to earn points besides stays, such as using credit cards that tie to the hotel chain you like, and shopping portals.

Bartering may work. If you want a better rate, you won’t know if they can give you one unless you ask. The best times to ask are mid-week and during non-peak travel times when the hotel may have empty rooms it’s trying to fill.

Membership has its privileges, and members of AAA and AARP get discount rates. Something you may not know is that AARP is open to anyone, not just people who are in their 50s!

Another little known way to earn loyalty points and increase your status is to purchase discount hotel gift cards. They allow you to book hotel rooms at discounted rates too. is just one example of such a site.

Lastly, take advantage of someone else’s reservation. Their cancelled reservation, to be exact. If someone cancels a reservation at a hotel, rather than being stuck holding the bathrobe, hotels often put these rooms on sites such as at discounted rates so that they can recoup a portion of the cost. Someone else’s loss could be your gain, so check it out if you’re looking for a room a day or two before you need it.

How do you shop for hotel rooms? Do you have any tips or tricks for finding cheaper hotel rooms, especially without sacrificing comfort? Leave your ideas for us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: David Jensen (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Should You Let Business Travelers Book on their Own?

January 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

What kind of trouble could business travelers get in if you cut out the corporate travel arranger at your company and booked your own business travel? Is it encouraged, or are you required to use the corporate travel office at all costs? The ubiquitous nature of apps and websites for locating budget hotels, ride-sharing options, and flights make it easy for people to take charge of their own travel logistics.

This is something corporate accountants and managers are having to choose whether to accommodate or penalize, and the problem is only growing.

While having someone else attend to your travel arrangements used to be a luxury, a bigger issue is that those doing the booking may know nothing about the city, the proximity of the airport to the client, and the logistics required to get from the client to the hotel they’ve booked. The person who makes that kind of trip on a regular basis is by far the more knowledgeable authority on the subject, which makes him or her the logical choice to make the arrangements.

Business travelers walking through an airport. You can still fly even if you're trimming your travel budget.But companies are concerned that letting business travelers book their own travel arrangements may give them less leverage when negotiating corporate rates for hotels and car rentals if they can’t show that their personnel is using them.

However, according to research by Egencia, the corporate travel management subsidiary of Expedia, business travelers often book outside their company’s stated travel policy, especially when procuring lodging, because they need to be closer to their client or because they found a better price than their company’s corporate rate and can pocket the per diem difference.

Road warriors need freedom to orchestrate their own itineraries in order to maximize their time out of the office. Giving them this latitude would reduce staff overhead, eliminate confusion, and utilize the business traveler’s knowledge of the cities and the accommodations in each. Why should a travel manager who doesn’t travel tell the employee where to stay and what time to get there? There are times that road warrior may end up cooling their heels for several hours in an unfamiliar airport because the corporate travel agent wanted to save $30 or make sure their traveler used the right airline.

For those who have control over the details of their travel budget, TravelBank has produced an app that helps estimate trip costs and customize their trip to anticipate and respond to upcoming expenses. TravelBank even rewards users when their trips come in under budget. For example, when a user’s bottom line comes in $500 under the budget, they receive $250 in credit to use with its partners in the travel industry with whom they’ve negotiated rates that rival those that corporations procure for their employees.

At Travelpro, we have the best of both worlds. I investigate my own schedule — optimal flight times and finding the hotel that’s closest to the client — and then communicating that to our travel manager and asking that they make every effort to book what I’ve requested. So far, it’s worked out great, and I’ve been very happy with the arrangement.

As long as business travelers know and comply with the company’s travel policy, allowing them to secure their own reservations only makes sense. But it also makes sense to let your road warrior experts blaze their own trail, as it were, because they already know what they’re doing.

Business travelers, o you book your own travel or do you have a corporate travel agent doing it for you? What has been the most efficient use for you? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: MauriceBMueller (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

How Much Should You Tip at Hotels?

August 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In this country, tipping is a combination of good manners and best practices. Whether you agree with it or not almost doesn’t matter, because this is how the travel and service industries operate. You tip at restaurants, you tip your cab driver, you tip at hotels — it’s a part of travel etiquette.

But there are a lot of questions about who you should actually tip at hotels, so we’ve found some different resources on the subject and here’s what you should do if you want to become a champion of etiquette. Here’s just a short list of the most visible staff you need to consider tipping:

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. Staying at a place like expects that you tip at hotels.

The Bellagio Hotel – Definitely a tipping environment.

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Delta SkyMiles Members Earn Miles with Airbnb

January 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Delta has just added another way its SkyMiles members can accrue points toward reward travel, and you can get them just by sleeping on your next trip. Besides booking flights and making purchases with a Delta credit card, now members can earn points when they choose Airbnb as their lodging. Members must book lodging through, and earn one mile for every dollar they spend.

We’ve been fans of Airbnb for a


and recently talked about how Airbnb is returning to its roots and working to attract business travelers.
Staying at an Airbnb can earn you Delta SkyMiles
The arrangement has benefits for new Airbnb members too who are looking to “Fly Global, Live Local,” with $25 credit earned toward any stay totaling $75 or more if they book via the Delta dedicated site within 60 days of opening a new Airbnb account. In addition to the flat mile per dollar deal, those whose stay totals $75 will earn an extra 500 miles, and those whose stay totals $150 or more will earn 1000 extra miles.

The benefits aren’t just one-sided. New Airbnb hosts can incent their potential customers by advertising the partnership and can accumulate miles with Delta in the following increments:
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Airbnb Goes Back to Its Roots

December 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers, wouldn’t it be great if you could break out of the hotel routine, even if it’s just for a couple days? Wouldn’t you enjoy eating in local restaurants and exploring the local scenery? What about saving as much as 20 – 30% over your normal hotel costs?

With its new, “Don’t go there. Live there.” campaign, Airbnb is trying to reach business travelers who are tired of hotels, or just want to experience more that a city has to offer.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara California

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara, California

With its push to garner a share of the business travel accommodations marketshare, Airbnb is actually returning to its roots. The company was started in August 2008 in San Francisco as a way to provide conference attendees alternative housing options that were considerably cheaper than the area’s hotels.

Since making a concerted effort to market its services to business travelers, business bookings have tripled since July 2015. Airbnb reports that 14,000 companies are signing up weekly, due to the company’s integration with major management systems, such as American Express Global Business Travel and BCD Travel. The company says the savings can be as much as 20 to 30 percent when compared to hotel accommodation costs.
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Creative Ways to Manage Hotel Pet Peeves

November 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever stayed at a hotel and found they have a few issues you’re just not happy about? While you could always complain, the front desk staff can’t always fix your problems.

For instance, a poorly-placed outlet is not something the staff is going to be able to fix during your stay. So rather than register a complaint, carry a short extension cord in your luggage for just such an instance.

A room at the Hotel Burgenland in Eisenstadt

Hotel Burgenland in Eisenstadt

Smarter Travel has discussed how to work around your hotel pet peeves, so you can enjoy your next hotel stay a little more.

Here are five of their best pieces of advice.

  1. Loud hallways and rooms. If you’ve ever spent the night listening to the ice machine, or the elevator that dings every time it lands on your floor, or the stairwell door slam shut, we know your pain. Rather than wait to see if your room is loud, call ahead and ask for a quiet floor or for a room far away from an area where people are coming and going. Finally, pack a couple pairs of earplugs. Read more

Stuck With an Expensive Hotel Reservation? Sell It

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever had this happen? You’re scheduled to go on a business trip and the client cancels? Or plans change and you have to push your trip out by a couple weeks. You’re outside the cancellation window for your hotel, and you’re left holding the proverbial bag, so you can’t cancel the room without paying the entire cost of the room.

Two companies want you to know there may be a solution by essentially “subletting” your room.

RoomerTravel and Cancelon have both created services that allow you to list the hotel room you can’t use for a reduced price. “The average discount is forty-five percent,” Richie Karaburun, managing director for RoomerTravel, told The New York Times.

Depending on the location of your hotel room, though, you could still recoup its full price. Sellers can ask any price for the room, although neither company guarantees its resale.

If you're stuck with a hotel reservation you can't cancel, you can try selling it.

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Here’s how it works: A seller lists their room on either site. RoomerTravel takes a 15 percent cut for their services, Cancelon takes ten. Services are free to buyers. Potential buyers can see rooms for resale on Kayak and Trivago, RoomerTravel lists theirs on Skyscanner, and Cancelon users can also see what’s available through TripAdvisor.

The downside for consumers using these sites to book a room is that there’s no way to know whether or not the room is being offered as a resale.

Once the sale is finalized, both companies contact the hotel on behalf of the seller to make arrangements for the change to the booking name and credit card guarantee.

Both RoomerTravel and Cancelon are experiencing growing pains and travelers have expressed some concerns when they choose a room and receive confirmation from Cancelon or RoomerTravel instead of the hotel chain they thought they were choosing. But lack of brand awareness should dissipate quickly, especially as more people realize they can offload their rooms, or find rooms at a surprising price.

Right now, the hotel industry is cooperating but remains cautious. Rosanna Maietta, a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), told The Times, “the AHLA is aware that sites like this exist and is constantly monitoring new entrants like these to the digital marketplace and their impact on customers.”

Would you ever “sublet” a room through RoomerTravel or Cancelon? Or do you prefer a more proven method? What would it take for you to try one of these services? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Alan Light (Wikimedia Commons/Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Helpful Tips to Get a Hotel Upgrade

October 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people live by the motto, flattery will get you everywhere. While this may not work in all situations, it helps when traveling and actively seeking out an upgrade. Especially if you’re on the road a lot for business, every little comfort and consideration can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

There are ways to get an upgrade to your hotel, your flight, or your rental car when you’re traveling. A lot of it is just a matter of asking, or remaining loyal to your different travel companies.

We share these with the following caveat: If you try to get a hotel upgrade using any of these methods, you should exercise the utmost courtesy and expect nothing. Upgrades are a gift, and not done in exchange for your niceness.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA. This is where you ask for your hotel upgrade.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA.

Loyalty does have its privileges, but what if you’ve become a regular at an independent lodging establishment that doesn’t have a rewards program? Send an email to the owners to let them know how you found their hotel and what you enjoy about staying there, or write an online review of your experience.

When you’re traveling in order to celebrate a special occasion — a milestone birthday, an anniversary, your honeymoon — invite others into your party by mentioning it as you check in. You might also call the hotel and tell the reservations person instead of making your reservations online. Special notes don’t always get shared with the individual hotels, so you’re more likely to get that hotel upgrade if you call your hotel directly.
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Five Things to Do in a Hotel Room

October 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you’re staying at a high-end resort or a budget motel, there are some aspects of staying in public accommodations that are universal. Everyone should do them, no matter in which part of the world you’re resting your head for the night. shared two different articles — things to do and things to never do in a hotel room — and we picked a few of our favorites. Do these before you decide to unpack.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

Look for bedbugs. They’re hard to spot, but evidence of their infestation is not. Examine the mattress pad, comforter, and furniture for brown bloodstains, which are the fecal remains of the insects’ processing of the blood they ingest while you sleep. If you see evidence, ask for a new room. Bedbugs are not the kind of souvenir you’re looking for from any trip.

That light switch you’re about to flip is full of germs. Don’t touch it until you’ve sanitized it with a portable wipe or a washcloth from the bathroom that you’ve squirted with some liquid hand sanitizer. Wipe down the remote control, door handles, bedside clock radio, and phone. (Especially the remote control.)
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How Can You Get Good Deals on Hotel Rooms?

September 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Hotel room in the Renaissance Columbus, OHBusiness travelers often have to find ways to extend their travel budget, or reduce some of their travel costs. It’s possible to reduce the costs of a night in a hotel, with just a little research. These are a few ways we’ve found, thanks to a recent Business Insider article and our own travel experiences.

  • Hotels located in business districts are usually not busy on the weekends and resorts are usually looking for guests mid-week, so check out these to see if you might benefit from the chain’s need to fill rooms during its off-peak time.
  • Corner rooms or rooms at the end of the hall often have more square footage without an extra cost. It never hurts to ask. This won’t save you money, but will still feel like an upgrade
  • If you’re hoping for an upgrade, try checking in at the end of the day and asking what’s available. Be careful to procure a reservation before arrival, though. This strategy might boomerang if you arrive late and there are only premium rooms left.
  • If you have some flexibility in your arrival and departure times, as well as where you stay en route to your final destination, consider checking out’s Hotel Price Index, or registering for alerts through Kayak. You’ll get real time information on prices paid, including taxes and fees, and when prices are dropping. It’s like having your own travel agent.
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