I won’t lie. Since giving up my full time career as a travel journalist in August 2018, the last six months have been tough financially.
I wouldn’t change a thing of course – and I don’t regret my decision one bit, but when you have to get accustomed to living by fewer means, you start looking at innovative means of saving money. And this includes holidays and downtime away from home.
I love the beach and I’ve got my sights set on a few days away in Margate this year. The kids love playing in the sand (give me a sandy beach over a pebble one any day!) and I love sitting on a deck chair, magazine in hand, preferably an ice cream in the other hand watching the kids have fun. It’s my kind of bliss. Until I get bored and want to start exploring again.
But when it comes to actually making plans to go away, the biggest single cost (certainly for a staycation holiday), has got to be where you stay. So it got me thinking – what's the best means of bagging the cheapest accommodation?
Here’s 5 handy tips to ensure you won’t be digging too deeply into those pockets…
1. Choose travel dates wisely & use comparator tools
If you’ve got tweens and teens like me, it’s difficult to be flexible on travel dates given the school restrictions. And even if I did get ‘special permission’ to take the kids out of school, as a secondary school teacher VIP wouldn’t be allowed to take days off during term time.
However, my advice if your kids are young enough to remove from school – or have flown the nest so to speak and are not reliant on you being around to look after then, then choose periods outside of high season. It’s better to travel in July or September than August for example.
Big festivals and events are also worth taking into account as they can bump up the price of a holiday considerably. Plus you wouldn’t exactly want overcrowded public transport and restaurants you couldn’t book just because 10,000 fans decided to book Elton John’s concert at the same time you’re there. A quick Google search will ensure you find out which events are on the agenda – and therefore avoid spending more than you need to when booking a hotel.
Another piece of advice would be to take advantage of the internet and online portals to compare flights and the cheapest accommodation for the dates you’re looking at travelling.
2. Choose apartments over hotels
It’s typically cheaper to book apartments over hotels when it comes to sourcing the cheapest accommodation; it means you won’t have to fork out for all your meals. You can choose to have breakfast and dinner in the apartment – and eat out for lunch every day.
Another plus point holiday apartments offer is that you maintain your privacy and autonomy; you can do what you want without being subject to set times for meal times, entertainment etc.. as is usually the case when you’re in a hotel.
3. Buy someone else's reservations!
Were you aware that there are some websites that allow you to purchase unwanted hotel room reservations of other travellers at a reduced rate?
These websites link you with travellers who have been lumbered with a booking that they are unable to cancel. However, the good news for you is that they are willing to offer and transfer the booking at a discounted price. With discounts of up to 74% on some websites, it’s not to be sniffed at and will ensure you get the cheapest accommodation for your booking.
4. Say farewell to Friday
Avoid spending Friday nights in hotels, as this can be one of the most expensive nights of the week due to its popularity. Instead, try to rock up early on a Saturday morning. You can leave your bags at reception if your room is not ready – and go and explore the beach and enjoy a spot of retail therapy with the money you saved the night before. 😉
5. The rule of refundable rooms
Although booking a refundable room costs between 5%-10% more, it could save you a lot more in the long run. You'll have more flexibility on dates, of course, but you can also use it as an insurance policy. This is quite important for someone like me who may need to cancel at the last minute due to medical reasons.
Plus, there’s another advantage…if you continue to look for other hotels after booking and find another room at a lower price (even in the same hotel), you can book the new one, cancel the refundable room and enjoy the extra savings!
Some hotels accept cancellations up to the same day, so you have plenty of time to find a better offer, but remember to check the cancellation policy carefully to make sure you get back on time! Hey presto!
So that pretty much sums up advice on getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to finding the cheapest accommodation.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share on what’s worked for you in getting the cheapest accommodation?
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- Making Memories: The One Destination On My Radar
- A Career In Travel: How I Became A Travel Journalist
- Insider Tips To Save Up To £2,000 On Your Holiday
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