How to Travel for Less- Booking Cheap Accommodation

How to Travel for Less- Booking Cheap Accommodation

  • Jens headshot 2:6:23
  • The Travel Mum
Dreaming of traveling more but worried about your tight budget? The key to making your dream a reality lies in booking cheap accommodation that meets your needs while staying within your budget. Rather than fixating on luxurious 5-star spa resorts with all the bells and whistles, consider the many safe and clean accommodation options available at a fraction of the cost. By changing your perspective and seeing accommodation as a secure base between your explorations, a whole new world of travel possibilities opens up. Here, we’ll share some tips to help you book cheap accommodation that allows you to make the most of your trip.

What do I need?

Understanding the difference between what you want and what you truly need is crucial. While special occasions might warrant a 5-star spa resort with all-inclusive perks, trips that are centered on exploring can be accommodated with simple rooms that provide a comfortable bed and bathroom. If you plan to spend all day at the beach or exploring natural wonders, consider a much more basic room that could save you hundreds of pounds. Break free from the notion that a holiday must come with a pool, endless entertainment, or a beachfront location. Embracing more modest options allows you to broaden your travel horizons, especially when dealing with a tight budget. It really comes down to how far you want your budget to stretch, one night in a luxury hotel could pay for a week in a more modest option. 

Consider staying in a hostel…

“Absolutely not!” I hear you all shout at once – The negative image of hostels can deter many from considering this budget-friendly option. However, this image is often far from the truth. Many hostels offer private rooms alongside shared dormitories, and they frequently come equipped with excellent facilities, such as swimming pools, planned activities, and complimentary breakfast. Opting for a private room with shared bathroom within a hostel can save you a significant amount of money without compromising on comfort. Hostels are also ideal places to meet other travellers, especially if you’re travelling alone, and they are often conveniently situated in the heart of cities offering great value for money.

 

A beautiful hostel in Marrakech

Should I be reading reviews?

Definitely! But don’t always let the numerical score put you off. ‘One (wo)mans trash is another (wo)mans treasure’. People’s opinions can vary widely based on personal preferences and experiences. A hotel with a low score might have specific complaints that don’t concern you, making it a great option despite the lower numerical rating. A hotel may receive a poor score from one guest due to it being loud, but a great score from another for being in the centre of the nightlife. What people have to say is much more useful than the numerical score. You may be willing to tolerate a specific negative aspect for the lower price tag. All of the accommodation we source for you here at The Travel Mum are well rated options that fit within your set budget to ensure a great value trip.

Where should I stay?

Selecting the right location for your accommodation depends on the transportation options available at your destination, and how you plan to spend your time there. If you plan to rent a car, you can consider peripheral accommodation that will likely offer free and easy parking. For cities with an efficient metro system, you can look for more peripheral budget-friendly hotels close to bus or metro stops. Alternatively, if you prefer to be at the heart of the action and minimise travel time, opt for more basic options in central areas. When you search on our system we are only selecting hotels in great locations, so you don’t need to worry about ending up in the middle of nowhere. This also saves you time by not having to research where you actually want to stay.

When should I travel?

Peak travel times and festivals usually coincide with higher accommodation prices. Avoiding these periods can significantly reduce your spend. Check when the local school holidays are and aim to avoid these if possible. Not only will you save money, but attractions will be less busy. Aim to travel during the shoulder season, which falls between the peak and off-peak months and will vary across destinations. This period offers lower prices while still enjoying favourable weather. Be cautious when booking holiday resort towns that may close during winter months. Using an example of the up and coming destination of Ksamil in Albania, the town is pretty much closed between October and April, but then incredibly busy in July and August. So opting to travel in May or June would provide a cheaper and more enjoyable stay.
You must always consider prices for both flights AND accommodation before booking anything. You may find really cheap flights to Milan, but then discover it is during fashion week and accommodation is priced through the roof. Our website makes this easy by searching for both flights and hotels at the same time (Sorry to keep plugging it but it really is a pretty great resource as we solve a lot of these problems!)

Should I pay for free cancellation?

The sensible answer here is yes! Even when booking cheap accommodation, you are often spending hundreds of your well earned pounds that you can’t afford to lose. Not all cancellation periods are equal, some will allow cancellation until the day of check in, others may only offer it up to 14 days in advance, so make sure you know what you are paying for.
The price difference between the non-refundable rate should be taken into consideration. Personally, if the price difference is huge and we can’t foresee any issues arising, we have been known to go for the much lower non-refundable price. It is always a gamble when you do this but by booking on a credit card and buying travel insurance immediately after booking you will still have protection against many problems that could prevent you from travelling.
A great benefit of free cancellation is that you can just decide not to go – something not offered with package bookings. It is also useful if the price of the room drops, keep an eye on the live prices and then cancel and rebook if the price falls. Hotels.com offer a price guarantee so even if your booking is non-refundable, if you find a better price they will give you vouchers to the value of the difference to use on a future trip. Learn more about this and submit a claim here.

What star rating should I look for?

Take the star rating of a hotel with a pinch of salt. The requirements to reach a certain number of stars varies massively across countries. A 4* hotel in one country may not be equal to a 4* in another. Governments set the standards and it often relates to things like the hotel having a pool, a gym, 24 hour bilingual reception staff, conference facilities – it isn’t simply a measure of how ‘fancy’ a place is. Filtering accommodation by the star rating can help you find relatively nicer accommodation options, and is how we source our ‘Bargain Lux’ deals for you, but it is one part of many other things you should be looking at. Don’t be put off by a 2* hotel rating, this doesn’t mean the place is awful, it just means it lacks certain facilities. Use the reviews, location and photos to work out if the place would work for you.

Do I need a credit card?

If you are planning on travelling regularly, a travel specific credit card is a really useful thing to have. Any bookings you make over £100 will be protected under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act, so it is always sensible to book your travel using one. It also has benefits when spending abroad, the exchange rates you get when spending on a travel credit card will be near perfect. On top of the savings and protection it offers, it is usually essential to have one when booking car hire.

Consider house sitting…

House sitting is a great way to get away on the cheap. Memberships start from around £99 and mean you can use the site all year to source house sit exchanges. We have a specific post on our experience doing this which you can find here. Essentially you look after someones home / pets in exchange for the free stay. We have stayed in some beautiful houses by doing this. You can find the website we use here.

 

Our first house sit!

So, what are you waiting for?

Traveling on a tight budget is easy with the right mindset and smart planning. By understanding your needs, booking cheap accommodation options, leveraging reviews, and timing your travels wisely, you can embark on more travel adventures without breaking the bank.

Gone are the days of settling for expensive package holidays just because it is easier. In some situations package holidays can be a fantastic option, but DIY planning is often overlooked and can unlock the cheapest possible trips for a tight budget. With our search feature, you take full control of your own journey whilst we handpick the best flights and accommodation to suit your desires. We believe that travel should be accessible to everyone, regardless of budget, and that’s why we’ve designed this powerful tool to maximise your savings without compromising on quality.
Forget those endless hours spent browsing numerous websites for the best deals. Multiple tabs open looking for flights, hotels, blogs open looking for recommendations and the best locations – We’ve streamlined the process, making it easy and efficient for you to plan your perfect trip. As a premium Travel Max member you can also enjoy access to personalised deals that cater specifically to your preferences and interests, and we send these deals straight to your inbox.
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. We only promote things we genuinely love – Jen

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