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How to get great deals on hotel rooms!

We have all heard it said book ahead, book online, use Expedia, Tripadvisor or one of the other online booking sites who claim to have the best prices!

There is an even better way although it does take a little more legwork!

During our travels between house sits, we do need to find places to rest our weary heads. If internet access has been sketchy often, it is a case of deciding where is to be the end of the road for that day and finding a hotel when we get there. Having GPS or Satellite Navigation system in your car or phone is invaluable, as you can punch in hotels, pick the closest ones and cruise by. We like to check out the neighborhood in person, my well-developed “spidey” senses have said no more than once!

You have to learn to trust your gut/instinct here, if it does not feel right, it is not! Our trip to Italy was a good example, more than once we drove away from a potential bed for the night because it did not feel right. If you have pre-booked and paid, this is not always so easy to do, unless you are willing to lose your money.

Once you have found a potential candidate, the area feels good, and the hotel looks fine now for the real test! I go in and ask if they have a room available (no, I do not speak perfect German, Belgium, French, Italian or Spanish, but I do look up how to say hello and ask if the receptionist speaks English, guess what, they usually do!).

They do have a room, great now it is time to put your negotiation skills to the test. Firstly, find out what it costs per night and ensure it is not price per person. I always ask to see the room before committing. I did this in Germany, the room was huge, with a large space for as yet unfurnished sitting area. By explaining that I only wanted a double, which was not available, we secured this room for the same price. These places want your Euros my friends.

On our trip to Spain, we knew where we planned to be the first night and did a little research into hotels in the area before arriving. Armed with this knowledge and normal room rates we secured a delightful room in a lovely riverside hotel in Lunel France for half of the posted rate.

We were so impressed with the great room and rate we secured in Peniscola, Spain that we stayed another day! Our target hotel was the wrong way down a one-way street….uurggh! Frustrated and unable to reach our hotel of choice, we drove by the Casablanca. Who would not want to stay at the Casablanca?

Mike pulled over and I did some more legwork, I walked into the reception area of this clean, airy, spacious and very nice hotel! Within minutes, I had secured half board, which includes dinner & breakfast and a sea view room for only €47!

Michael was also in shock, especially after we saw the room, I am sure we got the best suite in the hotel! The Casablanca is a large hotel just over the road from the beach, the food was great and the few hotel guests were friendly Spanish couples who know how to party!

The Casablanca on Expedia, cost over €73 per night for room only–that is €27 more than we paid and we had meals included.

Our hotel in Carmona, found the same way, was a delightful old building right in the old town itself, again less than the online booking sites.

This is a great reason for travelling during the shoulder season in Europe, there are many rooms available and if you can deal with the uncertainty of travelling un-booked, you can save yourself a whole lot of money! If you cannot, piece of mind has a price!

Lesson learned, was to make minimal bookings in advance, to know going rates and be prepared to negotiate.

Please note that most Europeans go on vacation in July & August, this is when Expedia & Co will come in useful, as availability is tight.

Have you found other ways to keep your accommodation costs down? We would love to hear them.



About the author: Michael was born under a wanderin’ star. He is an Engineer who became an explorer, a photography bug, and hack traveller writer with the propensity to be snarky. “Retired” in 2012 at the age of 44, he and his wife Yvonne travel and house sit around the globe on a full time basis. Michael’s goal is to share the process of escaping the rat race, exploring the globe, and some of the experiences along the way.

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