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Saving in high-priced hotel cities, Part I

Saving in high-priced hotel cities, Part II

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Helpful Hotel Booking Tips

These tips add to what you learned in Saving on Hotels in High-priced Cities, Part I and Saving on Hotels in High-priced Cities, Part II, as well as Camping Tips and Hostel and Campus Lodging Tips.

This page gives simple suggestions, but when using these your savings really add up over time.

Travel in a group

A great way to save on hotels is to travel in a group of two or three and share a room, as long as everyone gets along well.

In Canada and the United States, there is little difference between what a hotel room costs for one person and for that same room with two or three people sharing it.

For example, a typical Motel 6 room for one person in Holbrook, Arizona, costs $29.99 plus tax during the 2006 summer peak season.

On the other hand, its rooms for two people cost just $5 more. In other words, with one person in the room cost was $29.99 for that person, but with two people the per person cost declines to just $17.50 per person.

These per person savings are even greater in more expensive hotels and motels.

An extra charge of $4 to $8 for another adult person is typical of budget motels in Canada and the U.S.

Beware your group doesn’t isolate you

However, International visitors traveling in groups of more than two have to be careful that their group does not insulate them from local contacts.

As mentioned in Making Friends, you may travel through a country but never know it, as your focus is your group.

An American or Canadian may engage one or two people travelling together in conversation, but may be shy about approaching a larger group of offshore visitors.

If in a larger group, you need to be more aggressive about seeking out opportunities to meet the locals, even if this means breaking up your group at times.

Showing up without a booking

Showing up without a reservation in the most popular areas, such as at the Banff and Grand Canyon national parks, during peak season can be very risky.

However, for off-season travel or for travel to less popular places, remember this mantra:

"That's more than I wish to pay. Have you anything less expensive?" (Look as if you are about to walk away.)

This works especially well at owner operated independent motels, where the person at the front desk actually cares whether you check in or not. You're cash flow to them.

And, you don't have to accept the first special rate.

"I am sorry, but that's still too high for me."

Asking for special rates

When booking in advance, always seek out special rates.

And, know the typical types of rates you qualify for.

For example, some budget motels—Motel 6, for example—offer senior discounts to people 50 or over. (Those 50 or over must have a membership card from the American Association of Retired Persons).

This is in contrast to the usual idea that senior discounts start at age 62 or 65 in North America.

Hotels and motor inns in business centres usually have lower rates—often half price—on weekends and holidays.

Some will offer corporate rates to anyone at any time, if asked. Who has not worked at least part-time for someone, somewhere? Carry along some business cards, if you have them.

Membership in either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) brings discounts at many hotels and motels. Always ask.

Booking accommodation

Whenever possible, guarantee your arrival with a credit card number. Your booking will be taken more seriously, and you won't have to worry as much if you're delayed.

You can also send a deposit, but these are harder to prove if they are misplaced.

Be sure to find out the deadline for canceling without penalty. This is often 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. on the day of arrival, but hotels and resorts in popular areas may require cancellation days in advance. If you don’t cancel, you normally lose the cost of the first night’s accommodation.

In addition, always take along a printout of your online booking, or a record of your reservation made over the phone.

Write down the confirmation number, the name of the person you talked to, the date and time you called, and the particulars of your reservation, such as the price, and take this with you.

If there’s time, ask that a copy of phone reservation be sent to you.

The same rules apply to canceling a reservation—you want to be able to prove it was cancelled.

If you travel a lot, you'll almost certainly have to prove you booked or cancelled at some point, as has Dr. Voyageur a number of times.

Showing a booking confirmation was the only way Dr. Voyageur got into several hotels when told there was no reservation for him during peak periods.

Also, avoid the hassle of hotel overbooking by showing up before late evening.

Plan around school holidays

Your university summer break may start on 9 May, but do you realize that grade 1 - 12 students in California typically do not get off until mid June?

That means peak season motel and hotel rates in California usually don't begin until mid June.

Even university spring breaks occur at wildly different times throughout Canada and the U.S.

You can work around these school holidays and save.

Varying accommodation

Try to vary your accommodation.

If you’re rolling into a motor inn at 9:30 in the evening and leaving early the next morning, you don’t need 100 television channels and an Olympic-sized pool.

Driving between Los Angeles and Vancouver along the coast?

Throw a tent into your vehicle to use a couple of nights. You’d be hard pressed to find a hotel experience as uplifting as sleeping under the magnificent trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California, and you’ll save money in the process.

On the other hand, if you’re always sleeping in the cheapest place available, perhaps you should work a bit longer saving for a trip than to always travel in some discomfort.

Any budget should permit a change of venue at times.

Happy travelling!

DrVoyageur - Budget Travel Tips Home Page

Saving in high-priced hotel cities, Part I

Saving in high-priced hotel cities, Part II

 
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