I’ve stayed in my share of fleabag hotels. When I was younger and had no money, it didn’t bother me. And even if it did, it wouldn’t have mattered.
Now, it bothers me a lot. I like to stay in nice places. So when I travel, I’m willing to pay a little more for a clean hotel where I know I’ll be comfortable.
But at the same time, I don’t like to pay a lot of money to stay in nice places. That’s a problem because hotel room prices grew 5% last year and are already up 4.8% this year as demand outpaces supply.[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]But there are several ways you can save money on your lodging without having to stay in the Downtown Newark Motor Inn.
Rental by Owner
There are several companies out there that allow people to rent their apartments or homes to travelers.
Airbnb and HomeAway are a few of the larger ones.
You search and book an apartment or house just like you would a hotel.
When you search in a particular location and specify the dates you need, you are presented with the available options. You can view pictures, read reviews, etc.
This summer, my family and I went to Italy. In Rome, we didn’t find a decent hotel that would allow the four of us to stay in one room. Rome is expensive, so it was going to cost us more than $400 per room per night for two nights. We booked a hotel that looked nice and was in a very touristy area.
But then we found an apartment on Airbnb for $250 per night. It was a two-bedroom that was a five-minute walk from the Colosseum, but tucked away in a charming residential neighborhood. It was clean and comfortable. The downside is there was no maid service or other amenities that you’d find in a hotel.
The owner was a lawyer and lived in the apartment next door. Although we never met her, we communicated with her several times by text message.
She even told us where to eat.
I don’t know about you, but anytime I stay in a hotel and ask for restaurant recommendations, even if I preface it by saying, “I don’t want to go to a tourist restaurant, where do the locals go?” I’m always sent to the tourist restaurant.
Our Roman host told us about a tiny place on a side street that has been around since the 1400s. There was no English on the menu and it was one of the best meals we ate in Italy. No hotel concierge would have told us (or even have known) about this little gem.
And best of all, staying in the apartment saved us $900.
Often, the apartment or home is not the owner’s primary residence and is simply an investment for them, so it’s not like you’re crashing at someone’s house.
To be safe, when using Airbnb or others, consider places that have lots of reviews (that are mostly positive).
You’d be surprised what being a squeaky wheel can get you.
On the same trip, we booked a very nice hotel in Venice, by far the most expensive hotel on our trip. It had a rooftop pool that my daughter was excited about and a rooftop bar that had the best view in Venice.
When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the three police officers with machine guns on the dock. Then I saw the frogmen in the canal. The place was crawling with serious-looking heavily armed men.
When we entered the hotel, we realized that Michelle Obama was staying there.
As a result, the pool and bar were closed. We were not happy. I was paying full retail price and was not receiving all of the amenities. I explained that to the person at the desk when we checked in and when we checked out. She told me to contact the manager.
I did, asking for a 50% refund (I didn’t think I’d get it, but I started high, figuring I could always negotiate lower). The manager wrote back and said it was the local police that closed off the pool and bar, not the hotel, so there was nothing he could do.
I’m very stubborn.
In my response back, while copying corporate executives, I explained that of course there was something he could do. He could give me the refund that I asked for considering that I paid full price and didn’t receive full service.
Once again, he politely told me to screw off. So I went up the chain of command at this very international hotel company and almost immediately received a note back saying they would deposit tens of thousands of points in my loyalty account – enough for a free night at that very expensive hotel.
It may take some time and require being a pain in the neck, but if you have a legitimate complaint with an airline or hotel, it will often hand you a bunch of points to make you go away. It is tougher to get actual cash back, but the points can be useful for free nights, flights, upgrades, etc.
Airbnb saved me $900 on my last vacation, and making a lot of noise about how Michelle Obama kept my daughter out of the pool got me another few hundred off my next vacation.
You have to work a little bit, but it is possible to not spend a fortune on a vacation, even if you’re going to expensive places.
Hoping your longs go up and your shorts go down,
Source: Wealthy Retirement