I love to find a good deal when traveling. There’s something really satisfying about getting to somewhere for less than what the airline would like to charge, or staying at a hotel for a ridiculously low price. Fortunately, priceline.com makes it possible to stay at a nice hotel for much less than you’d normally pay. I used to avoid priceline because the whole bidding thing just didn’t make sense. How are you supposed to know what to bid? What do you do if they refuse your price?
Fortunately, the world of online travelers has made it much easier to know how much to bid, and what hotel you are probably going to get. The two sites I’ve found to help make this possible are betterbidding.com and biddingfortravel.com. Here you can find instructions on how to bid, lists of hotels in each city that are available on priceline or hotwire, and many posts from travelers who have won bids. For example, we stayed at a 5 star hotel in Bangkok for $100 after reading the posts from other travelers, and we knew exactly which hotel we were going to get.
Some tips to keep in mind when using this method of booking:
1. You can’t be guaranteed of a certain type of room. You might get put in a room with 2 doubles, or an upper floor room with a king bed.
2. Call ahead to make requests. You can’t make requests during the booking on priceline, so after the reservation is accepted, call the hotel to ask for a non-smoking room or for a crib.
3. Join the hotel’s frequent guest program, if available. Usually these are free to join and they give you perks like free upgrades or room requests. Recently, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago through priceline for $67, so I joined the Hyatt Gold Passport program which allowed us to check in 2 hours earlier than normal and put us in a high floor room.
On another travel-saving note, rental cars can be a big sink of money or save you a ton. My favorite combination for saving about 50% on rental costs: join the National Car Emerald Club (sometimes available for free) so you can get any car in the Emerald Aisle no matter what you paid. Then find a contract ID and coupon ID from fatwallet
, book a midsize or lower online and save a bunch when you pick up your full size car. We’ve even been given an SUV for a compact price a couple of times. Now if they would only give us a break on the ridiculous charges for a car seat.
Do you have some tips for saving big on hotels or other travel?