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How to Find The Best Hotel on a Budget
I've done a lot of solo traveling. When I'm alone, my only priority to finding lodging is cost. I stayed in a motel room in West Virginia that had a big hole in the door, in the middle of winter, because they offered it to me for twelve dollars and I was tired. When I take a trip with my daughter, or just about anyone else, my standards are a little higher. I thought I'd share some tips on how I look for a place to stay when I'm looking for someplace cheap AND nice.
1. Search sites like Expedia, Road Dog Travel, and Orbitz for lodging in the area you want to go. You can also search the phone book or the internet yellow pages of the place you're going and call the lodging directly for rates. Sometimes the cheapest hotels and lodging aren't listed on the big travel sites.
2. Sort the results by price, lowest to highest.
3. Make a list of them on paper or somewhere on your computer, I use notepad. Take into consideration the hotels distance from where you want to be. Some cheaper hotels are located away from cities, attractions, etc.. Exclude any that don't make sense for your trip.
4. Using your list, working from cheapest to more expensive, check the reviews of the hotels on at least two sites that review lodging. Checking out more then one site helps to insure you're getting an accurate review. One site may be getting paid or have lots of recent reviews of the owner or staff to push down bad reviews, etc.. I personally think tripadvisor is the best, but you can usually find lots of reviews by just typing the hotel name into the search bar.
5. The more reviews there are for a hotel the more trust you can have in the accuracy of the hotel's ranking on the site. If the number one ranked hotel is Jane Doe's Flea Bag Motel and there is one five star review from someone named Jane Doe, you may not want to put a lot of trust in it.
6. When reading reviews, take into consideration who wrote the review. Some sites will tell you about the reviewer, whether they're a luxury traveler, backpacker, etc.. If you usually camp out on trips and a luxury reviewer said a room lacked ammenities, you might be able to somewhat disregard it. On the other hand, if you're traveling with your family, and a backpacker commented that the place is dirty, maybe you want to avoid that place to be safe.
7. When you find a room that suites you, find the cheapest way to book it. Either through a travel site, the hotel's website, or on the phone if they dont have one.
8. Go on your trip and have fun!
Using this method of finding a hotel with a good mix of value, comfort, and safety has always worked well for me. It involves some work, but to me well worth it. Good luck and safe travels!