Do you want to travel more for less? If you want to save money on accommodation then you need to read this post. I’m giving you a step-by-step guide to walk you through the different ways I’m able to travel for longer and spend less money! I’m going to guide you through my favorite search engines and favorite travel savings club so you can find the best deals on accommodation.
Should I book flights or accommodation first?
Now, this isn’t a straightforward question to answer! Normally I book my flights first and then search for accommodation closer to the time. Flights tend to be cheaper the earlier you book them. Whereas accommodation goes down closer to the time. Unless of course there is a big event in the area. If that is the case the earlier you book the better!
The only exception to this rule is if I’m booking my accommodation through ETA. I wrote this post here on how exactly ETA works but in short, you can get some amazing deals if you can be flexible. You can save so much money that it could be cheaper spending extra and book a more expensive flight on another day!
Using accommodation search engines
If I’m just looking to book a budget hotel or a bed in a hostel I use booking.com primarily. Once I have got the best deals on there I check Skyscanner. There are plenty more out there. But I’m going to let you in on a secret… they are pretty much all owned by the same company and all have the same things on them. They are just marketed to different demographics an give people an illusion of having options.
If I’m looking for a nice place to stay (which has been happening a lot more recently) I Use ETA. I have saved hundreds of dollars using it and stayed in some incredible places.
How to use Skyscanner
It couldn’t be easier to use;
- enter where you are going
- the dates
- the number of travelers and rooms,
- click search
The results can be a bit overwhelming! Skyscanner will sort by popularity so be sure to click on the filter and look at the following options:
First check how you want the results to be sorted by: Popularity, Price, Reviews or Distance.
Then check either: Price per room or Price per night
You can then apply a price filter that will work within your budget.
Decide on the number of stars and click apply.
Before booking anything make sure you take a look at the reviews!
NB- I prefer using the Skyscanner website to the app, just because it gives you a few more options to check like Cancellation Policy, Meal Plan, and Facilities. However, if you want you can download the app here.
How to use Booking.com
If you want to stick to using rather than Skyscanner then here’s a quick how-to guide to get the best accommodation deals.
Like Skyscanner simply enter the place you want to go, the dates, how many people and then click search. Once again you will have far too many options so go through the following list and adjust to your needs.
Stars: If you know you only want 5* options then click on this. You can choose more than one option. As a budget traveller, I tend to leave this one.
If you are on a budget then slide it along to your maximum per day. This is a key one for me as I’m normally on a tight budget!
If you know you only want a hotel and hostels aren’t for you make sure you check this option. If you’re flexible then don’t worry about this option.
If you know that traveling without WiFi is a fate worse than death then make sure you check this option. Take a stroll through and check the options you know you need in a place to stay.
If you already know the district you want to stay in then check this option. Leave it if you can be flexible.
Ok, this is the important one! As a frequent traveler, I always leave a review, even if I’m pushed for time I will give it a star rating. If you want to make sure you aren’t staying in a hell hole then this option is so important. I always put in a minimum score of 7 sometimes 8.
Click show results and then to put it in order of your priorities click sort and choose the most important option to you and click done. You can view it as a list or as a map. Once you have found a hotel you like then check the reviews.
Don’t just check how many stars people have given; also check what people are saying about it. If for example it has excellent reviews and stars but it’s in a noisy area of town and that is a big issue for you, you need to know before booking.
Other Tips for using search engines:
Create an account so you can save your options as favorites and come back to them later. You can create lists of options for different city’s you will be visiting.
If in doubt book it anyway. The best thing about booking.com is that for most bookings you pay on arrival and it’s free to cancel up until 24 hours before check in! This makes it a lot less daunting to book as you can always cancel if you find a better deal later on.
Once I’ve checked Booking.com I will then check Hostelworld and Airbnb. Although I must admit I have been using Airbnb less and less are I have been made aware of a lot of negative side effects in many cities.
One of my other favorites if you can be a little flexible and don’t mind looking after animals doing some housesitting. I actually did this in Guatemala and LOVED it. The best site to use is Trusted Housesitters. They charge an annual fee, which is a good thing because it means everyone is verified on there. If you want a discount code for Trusted Housesitters here you go.
NB This is meant as a general guide, the way I book accommodation for each trip really depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing.
Here are my other planning guides
Are You Traveling soon?
Be sure to check Skyscanner for the best flight deals.
I never travel anywhere without Travel Insurance. If you are looking for insurance be sure to check World Nomads first.
This post was proofread by Grammarly