So, you have decided on that dream destination after much planning, anticipation and savings. You want to make the most out of this trip, to spend quality time with your spouse, or family, or with yourself. You know which the places to see are, when the best time of the year to go is, and what to take with you for the duration. You have also booked your train or flight tickets much in advance and got some really cheap deals to begin with. The next question is: where do you put up for accommodation? How would you know, where to stay, because there are numerous hotels in and around the place you are travelling and you really don’t know which will give you the best deal for your money? You don’t want to end up spending too much on the hotel because frankly speaking, you would be out visiting the place for most part of the day, so may be, a comfortable place to stay is more than enough, and if it includes good food as well, all the more better. How to go about saving on accommodation?
Deciding on accommodation can be one of the most tiring things to plan during a trip, especially with every place boasting of top class facilities and “memorable stay”. You don’t know who to believe!
- Ask your family and friends– Firstly, if it is a well-known destination, you can always ask your friends, family or office colleagues about the places they stayed in , and they might be able to give you a fair idea of good budget hotels/apartments options to stay or unless they opted for a luxury trip.
- Decide on the nature of your trip– Before opting for any place, you need to decide on the nature of your trip. Are you looking for a place to relax? Maybe a whole day lounging by the pool side, some good massage and a rejuvenating spa, some mouth watering food to accompany your solitude? Then you must look for a place which has all these facilities. You are looking for something of a luxury, and not merely a place to spend the night. If you are the adventurous type, you might be looking for a place where you can put up camps and tents, and an accommodation where you can return to the next day, with a comfortable room and clean toilet. If you are travelling solo, you might be looking for dormitories, youth hostels or single rooms at cheap prices. Most importantly if you are okay with cooking and are traveling with children, you may opt for accomodations/villas. You destination and reason for vacationing is important to determine where you will put up.
- Book well in advance– If your friends and families can give you the address, you might try those places for accommodation. Peak time for travel, especially during March-June or September-November will see a surge in booking in these places so book well in advance so that you might be able to clinch some cheap deals.On the other if you are already late in booking, do check last minute deals, you might end up saving a lot by takeing up hotels/accomodations having last minute deals.
- Travel during off seasons if possible- If you are unable to book well in advance, it is best if you could travel during off seasons, you get good discounts and less of crowd in these places.We love to travel during off seasons, infact hill stations look the best in winters for example shimla/Manali in January is more beautiful than shimla in May.
- Look for hostels or dorms- For solo travellers keen on saving, hostel or dormitory accommodations are the best. Try hostelbookers.com for cheap per day accommodation, which also include tent staying for some hotels in case you are an outdoor person preferring to camp outside. If you are an all-male or all female group, dormitories are the best way to stay.
- Book apartments– When traveling abroad, I have found this the best option to save costs. Besides the apartment need not be exactly at the centre of the city as long as the city transport is efficient and robust.So there are two advantages you can cook on your own & you get more space especially if children are along.Cooking on your own saves huge costs and moreover you are not dependent on what you will get to it, you can cook dishes as per your taste.
- Look out for discounts on travel websites– For families, try tripadvisor.com where reviews of hotels by travelers themselves help you to decide on the best accommodation. You can also search sites like Goibibo or makemytrip for discounted rates for hotels which they frequently offer, and might be as low as 50% of the original price. If you are looking for a sea facing or river facing room, after booking online ,if you are unsure about what the orientation would be, it is best to contact the hotel ( details of which will be available when you are booking or after you have confirmed) and state your preference.
- Look into the package deals- Try going for rooms with at least a breakfast and one meal. Booking for two meals might end up with you missing one of the meals since you would be travelling during the day and might not be in a position to come back for lunch.In club mahindra resorts, we usually opt for the same and it turns out to be quite cost effective given that we prefer certain minimum quality of food when we travel with our son.
- Double check on amenities or facilities– In very hot or cold places, ensure that options for geyser/ hot water and air conditioning are included in the room amenities and facilities.
- Verify room locations and hidden costs- For some places, location of the room becomes very important. For example, in Varanasi, you might want to stay near to the Ghats as much as possible to have a view of the river, or reach in time for the Aratis to begin. Some might prefer topmost floors for accommodation due to more privacy and for a view of the entire city or the mountains if you happen to travel to hilly areas. You might have to pay a premium for the location of the room. Choose carefully.
- Opt for home stays– A great way to save on accommodation is to opt for home stays. You really get wonderful home stays at very cheap prices with excellent home cooked meals and a local family for company. Home stays are also eco-friendly ways of staying, especially if you are staying in the hills. They come with all the amenities and facilities you would need there. In remote areas, where home stays are the only option, you get basic food and basic amenities.
- Choose away from posh localities– Staying in posh localities in metropolises, or tourist destinations usually costs you a bomb depending on how expensive the city is. Decide whether you want to stay amidst the hustle and bustle and pay a premium, or you want a peaceful repose in an offbeat yet easy to access location. The prices vary accordingly.
- Lookout for reviews by fellow travellers- Look out for reviews, ratings etc by other travellers on different sites on accommodation they have availed. Keep an eye on discounts on flight and hotel bookings, or simply hotel bookings. Just keep your eyes and ears open, and before you know it, you would strike up that one classy accommodation at dream prices. Happy trying!