How to Save on Your Next Vacation

Throughout much of 2020 and early 2021, hotels were practically giving rooms away when occupancy rates were at a low. Now, you’ll need to brace for some sticker shock if you try booking a hotel stay in the near future.

As of the end of June, hotel room costs were up around 44% compared to where they sat one year earlier, according to hotel research firm STR. And while prices are still, for the most part, lower than they were during the summer of 2019, many consumers may get caught off guard by the sudden rise in cost.

If you’re looking to book a vacation, you may hit a stumbling block once you realize how expensive hotels have gotten. But here are a few tips that’ll help you get around rising prices and pull off a trip you can afford without landing in debt.

1. Travel at off-peak times

Hotel rooms are generally a lot more expensive on Friday and Saturday nights than on weekdays. This especially holds true when you compare those nights to a mid-week stay (you may sometimes pay more for a hotel on a Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night, since those days piggyback off of the weekend). If you’re able to travel during the week, you could save yourself a bundle.

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Similarly, if you travel to your actual destination at a time that’s generally less popular, you might pay a lot less for a hotel. Say there’s a beach town that’s typically loaded with tourists in July and August. For example, if you don’t have kids and therefore have the flexibility to travel in September once the school year has started, you might spend a lot less and still hit the tail end of warm weather.

2. Take advantage of credit card rewards and points

If you have credit cards that let you accumulate hotel points, now may be the time to cash them in. Travel is popular this summer because people have spent the last 15 months cooped up at home due to the pandemic, and that’s driving hotel prices up. If you want to help offset the added cost of booking a hotel room, cash in the rewards you’ve racked up on your travel credit card.

3. If all else fails, skip the hotel

Hotels can be convenient, and some offer great amenities that you may want to take advantage of, like room service or an onsite pool. But if you find that hotels are too expensive at your destination, look at renting a private home through sites like Airbnb or VRBO instead.

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Even if you find that the rates are comparable for a hotel room and a private home, with the latter, you’re apt to get more space, which could make for a more comfortable stay, especially if you’re traveling as a family. Plus, private homes typically come with a fully equipped kitchen, and cooking some of your own meals could help offset the higher cost of lodging.

A lot of people are itching to travel right now. If you’re one of them, prepare to pay up for a hotel. But you can use these tips to make your trip as affordable as possible.

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