There are all kinds of questions to ask when looking for suitable accommodation for your holiday. What type of hotel do you want to stay in? Does it need to have a pool? What about hotel transfers? Does it have to be a hotel? What about a family holiday villa? There are many options out there to keep your holiday budget in line and still have the perfect place to lay your head!
Most savvy budget travellers recommend a hotel that offers up a kitchen or kitchenette. Such hotels are usually called “serviced accommodation”. This can save you a huge amount of money on meals. Having a kitchen when you’re holidaying with kids can be invaluable. Often the cost on a per person basis can be well worth the time it takes to cook up some of your own meals.
Families should consider condominium-style or villa accommodations as these are often comparable in price to a fine hotel (and even less than the cost of two rooms), and give you the luxury of a spacious living space with a full-kitchen and amenities like laundry machines – a nice feature when you have young children. Other “non-traditional” lodgings include furnished apartments, house swaps or renting a villa.
If you prefer to mingle with the locals rather than other tourists, look into a home exchange holiday. One couple spent their eight-week honeymoon touring Europe without ever staying in a hotel; instead, they stayed in private homes while their European hosts stayed in their London City apartment.
Sound risky? Maybe—but tens of thousands of people have exchanged homes since the 1950s. For an annual membership fee (usually around £50), home exchange clubs help members arrange exchanges, as well as offering tips to make the exchange go smoothly.
According to ExchangeHomes.com, a home exchange can cut travel costs by as much as half. More importantly, though, a home exchange holiday makes it possible for you to live like the locals, and perhaps make some life-long friends too.
In a slight twist on the home exchange idea, look into joining a hospitality club that will hook you up with people willing to host you on your next holiday. The largest hospitality club has more than 23,000 members in 148 countries.
Membership is usually free, although members are asked to provide hospitality to others (on a voluntary basis) in return sometime in the future. In addition to saving money, staying with others is a great way to meet locals who can give an insider’s perspective on your destination.
Now this next suggestion might seem a little off the wall, but if saving money is your ultimate goal, it might be something you will want to consider. Stay in a monastery or a convent.
Monasteries and convents have a long tradition of providing hospitality to travellers. Aside from being a lot more interesting (and affordable) than the local Holiday Inn, a monastery can be a great place to explore your spiritual landscape.
Many monasteries and convents ask for a donation of £50 to £80 per night; others only ask for a free-will offering. In addition to simple accommodations, monasteries and convents often offer their guests simple meals as well as opportunities to participate in daily prayer and work. Reservations may be required in advance.
You can research this holiday idea by looking up individual monasteries or convents online. Or get a guidebook such as “Europe’s Monastery and Convent Guesthouses: A Pilgrim’s Travel Guide” or “Sanctuaries: The Complete United States: A Guide to Lodgings in Monasteries, Abbeys, and Retreats.”
You should consider booking a hotel outside the main part of town but still close to the sights you want to see. By staying away from the more popular hotels right in the middle of the action, you’ll have a better chance of not only saving money, but also getting the right accommodation at the time you want them.
Know what you are buying, though. Sometimes you can save money by spending a little more. For example, if lodging includes breakfast or has an indoor pool, or has a better location that will cut down on the time and expense of travelling back and forth to the attractions you’re interested in; the extra expense may be well worth it.
Be aware of amenities that may be extra prices hidden in the price of the room. For example, the hotel may provide a turn-down service for £x.xx and say it’s included in the room rate. If you don’t want turn down service, ask it to be removed from your room rate. Not all hotels do this, but it never hurts to ask!
Many people look for accommodation near the attractions they want to visit most, so that biking or walking can be the mode of transportation. It can be nice to not be dependent on a vehicle to get you from place to place.
Also, ask if there are any discounts available. Some hotels have children stay free policies or will offer 50 percent off a second room for children 17 and under. If you’re a member of an organization, ask if they offer any discounts. Belonging to a motor club like the AA can save you money too. They often work with hotels to give their members value for their dues.
Although we’ll address ways to save on your meals in a later article, you might also want to find a hotel that offers a complimentary continental breakfast.
We recently stayed in a hotel that said free continental breakfast and expected the usual bagels, toast, and cold cereal. Were we surprised to find that their idea of continental breakfast included eggs cooked any way you wanted, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and gravy all in a buffet style setting.
This writer was blown away and left the buffet full – to be sure! We didn’t have to buy lunch because we were still full from breakfast, so that saved us some money! We just thought “Woo Hoo!”