Good budget hotels are perfect for any type of vacation. But even with the wealth of information out there, it’s hard to find them! If you’re hard-pressed for time, you don’t want to search through hundreds of travel websites for the best price AND best hotel AND best reviews.
As the travel planner for our family, I’ve booked tons of great hotels at reasonable prices. No longer do you have to pay a bunch of money just to stay the night in a cool place.
How To Use the Best of Each Travel Site To Find Your Budget Hotel
Step 1: Set Your Price
First things first. Let’s define “reasonable price.” Once I booked a hotel night for $30. It was on the California Central Coast in the dead of winter with a 70’s-style swingin’ indoor pool and fireplace in the room. I count that as one of my best deals.
Sadly, you are just not getting anything under $60 a night for a hotel anymore.
I like to set $100 as a limit. It’s an easy number to work with and allows you to quickly tally your trip costs and keep to a budget for your vacation. $100 is a reasonable amount to spend for one night of sleep. It’s also conveniently the market value of most budget hotels in touristy places.
$100 can get you a good hotel almost anywhere!
I don’t do frills. $100 will get you beds, baths, breakfast and usually a clean, quiet, comfortable hotel. Sometimes even a pool, which is a must when traveling with kids! $100 will not get you fancy-schmancy bars or high class decor.
Step 2: Get Some General Ideas
I don’t normally book on Kayak because I don’t like their cancellation policies or extra fees. However, I do use them as a general source of information!
First, go to Kayak. Kayak is the fastest way to get a general idea of pricing in your destination. Find the hotels around your price range ($100) and make a note of these.
Searching for cheap hotels in my price range in the Kayak app.
Then, go to Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor is by far the best place for trustworthy reviews. Sort by average review (looking also at how many reviews for the property). Find your previously noted budget hotels. Look at their ratings. You’ll want one with 4 or 5 stars, and at least 3 and a half. Read some of the reviews if you feel like.
Finding the highest rated budget hotels in the Trip Advisor app.
Just an aside: If you are a clean freak, you’ll want to check out the Bed Bug Registry also. It has reports of bed bugs in hotels in the U.S and Canada.
Step 3: Narrow It Down With Your Preferences
By this time, you should have at least 5 hotels in your price range with good reviews. Now it’s time to narrow them down based on your preferences. Look at:
Location: If you don’t have a car, you need to book close to town! If you have a car, make sure parking is free. You can make do with a worse location if you have your own transportation.
A far-out location sometimes means a long, beautiful walk down the river into town.
Free Breakfast: It’s the best way to avoid an over-priced diner or breakfast cafe. Free breakfast reduces expenses for your trip and doesn’t waste valuable vacation time.
An included meal gives you insight about local food culture and a chance to chat with other travelers.
Pools: Kids need to unwind at pools. Indoor for winter, outdoor for summer. Adults like to unwind in hot tubs. It’s always nice to have a place to relax outside of the room, but can be skipped too.
Any Other Requirements: Filter the hotels by your own preferences. Free Wi-Fi is another biggie.
Step 4: When you Decide to Book
As I said before I’m not keen on booking hotels without free cancellation. Kids notoriously get sick! If you are certain you won’t have to cancel, book your budget hotel at the best discounted, non-refundable price available. Make sure to click ahead to the final cost including taxes and fees before committing to your purchase.
We belong to some loyalty programs like Hotels.com and Wyndham Rewards, so I’ll often use their specific sites to book and receive points. In some cases, however, the cheapest place to book is directly with the hotel itself. Even calling the hotel sometimes yields a better rate than booking online!
Don’t be afraid to do things the old-fashioned way. Call the hotel to check their rates.
I hope this information will help you the next time you use Internet travel sites to book a budget hotel. With so many resources, it makes sense to use each site for their best function, not just one site for everything.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this booking process! Please leave me some comments in the notes. I’m always looking for useful hotel websites to add to my list.