Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Choosing the right place to stay could set the tone of your entire vacation. So set your goals, determine your comfort zone, and create your budget to narrow down your options.
Let’s take a look at some of the choices that may be available at your destination.
World Travel 101 – Index
- Part 1 – Planning
- Part 2 – Travel Documents
- Part 3 – Foreign Languages
- Part 4 – Money
- Part 5 – Accommodations
- Part 6 – Transportation
- Part 7 – Packing
- Part 8 – Health & Safety
- Part 9 – Staying Connected
- Part 10 – Cultural Awareness & Respect
Staying in Hotels
Finding a Hotel That Fits Your Needs
There are lots of sites to help you find hotels. I typically use Google Hotel Finder, Hotels.com, and Booking.com for paid stays. Award Mapper or Hotel Hustle are great sites for award nights with points. These sites compare prices and location.
Once I’ve picked a few options, I check out TripAdvisor or a guidebook for reviews and photos to make my final decision.
How to Earn Free Hotel Nights
You don’t have to spend a fortune to stay in a world class hotel. I prefer to stay for (close to) free! Earning hotel points and perks from credits cards can save you lots of money on hotels. If you’re new to earning miles and points for cheap travel, see my Beginner’s Guide.
Here are a few of my favorite hotel credit cards that will give you free night:
- Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card – 2 free weekend nights at almost any Hilton hotel when you spend $2,500 on purchases within the 1st 4 months of opening an account
- Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card – 1 free night on your card anniversary
- Chase Hyatt – 1 free night in a category 1 to 4 hotel each card anniversary
- US Bank Club Carlson – Your last night is free when you redeem points for 2 consecutive nights or more (ends June 1, 2015)
With certain cards you also get perks like automatic hotel elite status for free breakfast and more. Sign up for hotel loyalty programs and google free status. Sometimes the hotel chain will have special offers that can save you money, such as free breakfast and internet!
Give Hotel Alternatives a Try
Want to get off the beaten path and mingle with the locals? Then getting away from the chain hotels is the way to go. And if you’re paying for your stay, you’ll likely save money as well.
With Airbnb, folks rent out their rooms, apartments, or houses to travelers like you! They are not bed and breakfasts like the same suggests.
It can be cheaper than what you would pay for similar accommodations at a hotel. Renting a home on Airbnb is also a great option for families or those traveling in a group. And if you want to meet locals, your Airbnb post could be a good source. Just check the reviews or message the hose to gauge their level of interaction.
And there are some very unique places to rest your head at night!
Couchsurfing is more of an experience in cultural immersion. You connect with locals on the site and stay with them for FREE!
You may have to sleep on their couch, or they may have an air mattress or a private room for you. The idea is you get to know them, they show you around town, and you get to experience what daily living is like in your destination.
Many countries have campgrounds where you can put up a tent or park an RV and get some rest. Enjoy the fresh air and meet new people, all for a small fraction of the price of what you’d pay for a hotel.
But keep in mind, you’ll need to either pack your gear and bring it with you or buy it when you arrive. This could bring your costs up and turn out to be a hassle for some folks.
You won’t find room service or spa treatments at a hostel. What you will get is a roof over you head and a bed for a cheap price!
Most hostels look much like a college dorm with a bare room and bunk beds. But many offer private rooms as well.
The best part about hostels is that it’s a fantastic way to meet people, but keep in mind that most travelers who stay in hostels are in their early to mid twenties. Hostelworld.com and HlHostels.com are great websites to find and book hostels.
Hostels typically run ~$15 to ~$75 per night, potentially more if you want a private room. They can be a great deal if you don’t mind living in close quarters with strangers and want to meet fellow travelers.
Where you stay during your trip largely depends on your budget, personality, and destination.
Make your choice based on your budget (in points or dollars) and the experience you’d like to have!