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How I saved 70% on my hotel cost while on vacation!

Updated on June 9, 2013

Saving huge money on overnight lodging!

I travel quite often for business, so I am used to a corporate rate that saves about $30.00 average on the overnight stays at nationwide brand luxury hotels. Recently I was planning a motorcycle trip, and started to use the on-line web sites to find the best hotels, and found that the deals were much more than I wanted to pay. For vacation travel with a little flexibility, you can find hotels for $50.00 per night, and are excellent accommodations.

When I am on vacation and traveling, I usually spend most of my time visiting the sights, going to parks, and doing something outdoors. I find that spending $169 per night for a hotel somewhat ridiculous, in that I usually check in, unpack, and leave for the afternoon, only to return to change cloths for going out to dinner. I leave for dinner somewhere, and perhaps will be back in the room later in the evening, only to go to bed and check out around 9:00 in the morning. Not a big deal, but I find five nights at this rate to be a waste of money, so I figured out a better way to stay while I am on vacation.

You have to understand that on-line booking of hotels from discount web sites, are typically geared for national chain type hotels. The agreement with the franchise and the hotel site is that a percentage of unsold rooms can be discounted, and the hotel franchise wants as many people staying in the hotel per night, so it makes sense for them to offer discounts and booking through these 3rd party sites. These 3rd party sites do indeed offer pricing that is often better than by booking the hotel directly with the hotels reservation system, the only benefit would be if you had a discount membership, but you will want to do a lot of traveling to justify the annual dues.

The best way to get a cheap hotel while you are on vacation, is to do a little search of hotels that are more of the local owned non-franchise type hotels. I have found these hotels are not in any discount 3rd party site, and yet they offer very good accommodations. Often you end up sacrificing a water slide and sometimes they don't have a pool, so if you are on vacation with the kids, this may not be the way to go. However, if you plan on spending time visiting the various sites and are going to have a few activities lined up, this is the way to go. You will save a lot of money on your overnight stay, with accommodations as good as most national chains.

What I do, is start my research by figuring out where I would like to stay and how far I plan on going each day. An example is that I am going to Minneapolis, and I plan on doing a few activities at a resort that is just north of Minneapolis. While doing a search at Hotels.com, Priceline.com, and Travelzoo.com, I found that my rate was going to be approximately $119.00 per night. I did find a few hotels that were priced around $99.00 per night, but for another twenty dollars, I prefer to go with more amenities.

As I looked at the map, I discovered many smaller communities on the way to the resort that would be a much closer drive to my purpose for the trip. By going to Google or Yahoo and searching with the keywords <city> and hotel motel, I would find a lot of hotels were in the area, with many customer comments and ratings. Since these hotels aren't in a "hotel directory", they can be easily found and most will have a web site or published rates for the rooms. Many have wireless Internet in each room, and many have a light breakfast included with the hotel price. Not only will you save on the direct rate of the room, but you also will save money from the hotel tax most larger cities charge for each room.

So far, I haven't stayed at a bad hotel, most of the time the hotel was on par with a Super 8 or Hotel 6, while the highest price was $75.00 per night, most of the time the rate has been in the $50.00 per night range. Usually these hotels are operated and managed by the owner of the hotels, and they are very friendly and helpful to the guests, so this is an added bonus. I found that staying just outside of a large city by 20 miles yields a great discount and a great experience. Often, if I am out on the road, I stay much further from the city, and enjoy America from a perspective of small town living while saving some serious cabbage.

The downside to this lodging, is that the big screen TV sometimes is just an older tube type television, but most have cable with most of the popular channels. I think there may be a slight risk of a run-down hotel that is maybe a contender for being condemned, but so far I have not experienced this. The lowest rate I found was a $35.00 per night and the hotel was ok, it had a small room that did not leave a lot of room to unpack the motorcycle luggage in, but the room was clean and everything worked. I was in the room approximately 9 hours, only time to sleep actually, so for me, I was perfectly fine without any swimming pool or free breakfast.

Anyway, something to think about when you are on your vacation cross country, and just looking for affordable lodging. For me, I will never go on a motorcycle vacation and stay at the name brand chain hotels ever again...the small owner managed property is a great way to stay and is definitely convenient and an enjoyable experience.

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