Travel

5 Tips to Effectively Save Money on Your Travel Accommodation and Expenses

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Joanne Poh

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Unless you routinely race to the duty free shops the moment you reach any vacation destination, your heaviest expense when you travel is likely to be accommodation. Find out how to slash accommodation prices without having to stay in bug-infested, puke-filled dorm rooms and extending your trip by days, weeks or even months suddenly sounds viable.

Whether you’re into blink-and-you’ll-miss-it weekend trips or are planning to go on sabbatical for an extended period, here are some tips that can help to lower the cost of keeping yourself off the streets.

 

Book accommodation with a kitchen

If you’re travelling for longer than a few days, you can save some cash by booking accommodation with a kitchen and then preparing some of your meals on your own. While sampling the local cuisine is a highlight for most self-respecting travellers, the locals themselves don’t eat out every day, and neither should you unless you’re prepared to spend a fortune.

Depending on your budget and the number of people you’ll be travelling with, you can choose between hostels or guesthouses with communal kitchens or apartments on AirBnB—be sure to inquire in advance about whether you’ll be allowed to use the kitchen. By all means sample the local cuisine during lunchtime when restaurants offer cheaper meals, but fix your own dinner and you’ll find yourself enjoying significant savings in more expensive cities.

 

Travel in threes

If you’re travelling solo, the cheapest form of accommodation is often a hostel bed in a dorm shared with a dozen other people, some of who are going to be puking or fornicating inches from your head at four in the morning. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, know that travelling in groups, particularly groups of three or more people, will save you a significant amount in accommodation costs.

A double or twin room can usually be shared between three people if you don’t mind sharing a king sized bed or paying a little extra to have hotel staff move a spare bed into the room. If you’re travelling in a large group of five or more, it might be even more cost-effective to rent a suite or entire apartment, which will still cost you less per person than putting two people in one room.

 

Stay for at least a week

The longer your vacation is, the less money you’ll be paying on a per-day basis. Many hostels and AirBnB landlords will let offer you a discount if you stay for a week or more. If you’re staying for a month or more, sending AirBnB landlords private messages and then asking for a discount can often yield prices that are up to 30% lower.

If you’re planning to just hoist a backpack onto your shoulders and show up at your destination without pre-booking accommodation, you might well save yourself a bit of money during low season by asking for a discount. For instance, many guesthouses in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia will be only too happy to give you a discount if you promise to stay for more than 5-7 days.

 

Don’t assume hostel beds are always the cheapest option

If you’ve ever travelled to Europe as a broke uni student, you are already familiar with the search for the cheapest, dingiest hostel beds in town. However, if the thought of sharing a room with strangers gives you the creeps, rest assured that if you’re travelling in a group of at least two, there are even more cost-effective options open to you than a hostel bed.

A private room at a hostel can work out to be even cheaper per person than a bed in a dorm if you’re travelling in a group of 2 to 4. Pick a more upmarket hostel and you might be surprised to find the rooms are of the same standard as those in budget hotels. In Southeast Asia, guesthouses offer excellent value and enable you to enjoy private rooms on a double or twin sharing basis, often for less than $10 per person. And finally, there’s always good old AirBnB, which can easily be cheaper than hostel beds if you’re travelling in a group of at least two, or if you’re staying for a longer period.

 

Don’t be afraid to bargain

While you wouldn’t walk into the Hilton and demand a discount, at smaller family-run establishments or accommodation leased by the owners, it is often possible to ask for a discount, so don’t be afraid to bargain for fear of looking like That Kiasu Singaporean.

Other than asking for a discount for a long stay, you might want to request a better price in exchange for not using the air con, which costs a lot of money to run. During low season, guesthouses and hotels struggling to find business are often willing to extend a discount just to secure your business. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

Of course, it would be imprudent to not point out that there are plenty of credit cards that offer discounts on accommodation bookings, even AirBnB! Make sure you get a good cashback credit card if you are planning to make your travel bookings online (and who doesn’t these days?) and you can enjoy even further savings.

Do you have any tips for saving on travel accommodation? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.