I know I use the term digital nomad on this blog, but I really am not. If anything, I’m a location independent entrepreneur that likes to travel. I’m not some Indiana Jones adventure junkie that backpacks throughout Asia or a digital nomad living cheaply in Chiang Mai. I’m just a normal person who wishes to see the world as much as possible and do a bunch of cool things before getting on a plane is physically taxing from old age. What that all means is, I travel like most people going on a holiday. I stay at 5 star hotels, eat at nice restaurants, do all the touristy things and even willingly pay for overpriced souvenirs at tourist traps.
I also like getting lost and discovering local gems, but for the most part I’m just on a conventional holiday when I travel. And a normal holiday is a lot more expensive than travelling. I’m sure you know what I mean when I say this. You must have read countless articles and blogs of full-time travellers and had the following thoughts run through your mind:
- wow, they’re so lucky to travel the world
- I can’t believe some people can travel so often
- That sounds really awesome, but also rather tough
- Looks cool, but it doesn’t seem like much of a holiday
- That’s great for them, but I don’t think I’ll be use to staying at a hostel
- I could never pack so light and carry all of it on my back
The point is, almost everyone wants to travel more than they already do, they just don’t want to be bootstrapping it. So as exciting and as cool as it is for full-time bloggers to rake up adventure after adventure, most people like you and I aren’t really interested in that extreme type of travel.
So here are my tips for getting great hotel deals to save costs without sacrificing comfort.
1. Use Hotels.com to book
I use Hotels.com to book all my hotels, or more accurately, over 90% of all the hotels I stay at. The main reason is because Hotels.com always gives me great prices. They don’t always give me the lowest price for a hotel, but they ALWAYS give me the best discounts. What I mean is, if you don’t have a specific hotel in mind, then Hotels.com provides better deals compared to other sites.
They have a bunch of different offers, some are across the board for everyone to enjoy and others are exclusively selected for you once you create an account. My favourite deals are “Your Secret Price”, these provide the best discounts and from my experience, no other site will match these prices offered.
Another reason for my loyalty towards Hotels.com is the rewards program they have. Hotels.com will give you one free night for every 10 you book through them. That might not sound like much, but for people who travel a lot, you’ll know that’s A TON of savings to be had. The way they calculate it is by getting the average cost of your 10 nights to find the maximum amount your free night can be worth. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of free nights using this and have saved myself so much money. It’s basically an additional 10% discount on top of the great prices I enjoy already.
BONUS TIP: If you’re located in North America, use Ebates to get 4% cash back on all your bookings. Though be smart about it, the 4% cash back offer isn’t allowed to collect reward nights, so if you travel often then stick with the reward program and if you don’t travel much then the 4% cash back makes a lot more sense.
2. Keep your dates and destinations flexible
This one is a little difficult to do for some, but if you’re one of the lucky ones with passive income in your life, then you should take full advantage of this travel hack.
Avoid high seasons to get better prices. Hotels can and will increase their prices by up to 50% or more during peak seasons. If you’re not going somewhere for any specific reason related to the time of year you’re travelling, then please do yourself a favour and don’t go during peak season.
Another thing to avoid for short trips that are less then 5 nights are the weekend. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, hotels will have a different price for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cheapest days are midweek, such as Tuesday and Wednesday. This also applies to plane tickets and so I try my best to fly midweek every time I’m travelling for leisure and fly out midweek as well.
BONUS TIP: Keep your ears and eyes open to current news on travel bans or visa problems for Chinese tourists. The amount of money Chinese tourists provide a lot of travel destinations is huge, and these places quickly become reliant on Chinese tourists to maintain their economic growth. But it’s not uncommon for the Chinese government to suddenly lower the quota of available visas given out. This means that these travel destinations suddenly become desperate for people to come and spend money to replace the gap the Chinese can’t fill anymore.
Flights, hotels and even products get slashed to ridiculously low prices.
As I write this (Nov 2017) South Korea is in this situation among a few other places. Last week I saw a 5 day tour to Seoul from HK for just $1999 HKD!!!! (that’s about $255 usd)
3. Join last minute travel deal newsletters
Not all spam is spam, if it gives you value then sign up!
I like signing up to hotel and flight offers when I go on either travel blogs or travel websites. I appreciate the insider knowledge and the deals never disappoint. I always skim through and take a look through these newsletters when I’m planning a trip, because you never know what you can find.
Most of the time the offers provided aren’t going to be what you want, but it takes less than 5 minutes to check and if you do find something that matches, you can easily save yourself a nice chunk of change. I get emails from hotels.com, trivago.com, groupon.com and the like.
BONUS TIP: Sites like groupon.com have package deals or standalone hotel deals that are great if you’re travelling with someone. Most of the deals will be for places nearby, so if you want a short trip then take a look at groupon
4. Be polite
Be polite, friendly and nice.
This isn’t a tip, and it won’t guarantee results but being polite to staff should always be a must regardless.
Long flights can be tough and by the time you reach your hotel, you just want to jump into bed. I get it. But keeping up basic manners and a smile isn’t hard. And a smile can go a long way. Like executive suite long way.
That’s right, I got upgraded to the executive suite from doing nothing upon check-in. I can’t be 100% sure why they gave it to me, but they did. The only logical conclusion I can think of is either they overbooked and or, I was friendly enough to make them want to give it to me.
Even if you don’t get upgraded to an executive suite, it makes things a lot easier between you and the front desk if something goes wrong. You could be at the fanciest hotel and there’s always a chance something isn’t working or something is missing. Then you have to call the front desk to get it fixed. The bare minimum would be to arrange whatever to be corrected, but the best situation is to change room for a better one or even get a free meal at the hotel restaurant.
The above 4 hacks are tried and proven by your one and only, Winnie MD. I hope you give some or all of these a go and tell me how much you managed to save in the comments below. Feel free to share this post if you liked this post and know someone who would also appreciate these simple travel hacks!