A Rundown of smart hotel hacks to improve your vacation For the Smart Traveler

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Nadav Levy

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Hotel rooms can be a huge expense, so it’s always important to do what you can to save money. Here are a few hacks and tips that will help you get the right room. Read the tips below and please share if you have more tips.

Book Accommodations With Separate Sleeping Areas

hotel room floor plan

Whatever type of accommodation you choose, choose one that offers a separate room for the kids. You’ll pay a little more for this convenience, but a good night’s sleep is the key ingredient to a successful family trip.

If everyone stays in the same room, you also lose privacy when needed, have less sleep, share TV, and more.

If your kids are older, you might even want separate sleeping areas for each one.

Not every accommodation offers one- or two-bedroom suites, so you need to do a little more research.

Most of the big sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com will offer that information.

Vacation villages such as Center Parcs and Landal or Apartment rentals from sites such as Airbnb are the best option for this. They are often cheaper than hotels and offer all of the comforts of home. Try looking for centrally located apartments that provide full kitchens and laundry, saving us time and money.

Pro Tip

Less moving means less packing and unpacking. This means less trouble and fewer things being lost.

Book Directly with Hotel for the Best Rates

woman smiling in front desk

Booking directly with the hotels can sometimes be better than dealing with third-party services that offer more limited choices and higher prices for rooms. The hotel front desk knows the exact hotel status and can sometimes provide upgrades or cheaper rates if they have a low vacancy.

Pro Tip

Do your homework and compare prices.

When booking online, note that sometimes this is not the final price, and you might have to pay country/state tax at the hotel.

Do you book on the weekend or mid-week

coffee and a book

Some hotels, especially downtown, are focused on business travelers. Therefore, their prices may be more affordable on the weekends, once the business travelers have gone home. On the other hand, cozy B&Bs and romantic weekend getaways might offer lower rates during the week. If possible, book accordingly.

Don’t Jump Between Hotels

hotel room bad

There’s no point trying to cover everything. Take your time, focus on close areas, and cover all the things that interest you in that area. This will also help you avoid the need to just from one hotel to another every night. Try to pick a place to stay the whole time you are in that area. Jump to the next one when you move to another place or a different part of the city.

It’s especially important when traveling with your children since they get used to the place and develop some comfort level, helping them enjoy it more and sleep better.

Pro Tip

Less moving means less packing and unpacking. This means less trouble and fewer things being lost.

Free cancelation

Free cancelation

It feels a bit weird recommending this one, but here we go. If you need to cancel your hotel reservation at the last minute, you’ll probably have to pay a fine.

To avoid the cancellation fee, you can often manipulate a small loophole in most hotel systems. Try rescheduling for a later date (which is usually free), and then call again and request a cancellation through another representative.

Hotels Are Not The Only Option

tant with ocean view
Most people still go to hotels as the first option for their place to sleep during vacation. Hotels are great, just remember that there are other ways and other experiences:
  • Holiday villages – have your own house in nature, especially if you live in the city, to have new experiences. Not only that, some parks offer everything you can imagine for a perfect family vacation, including entertainment, food, activities, and much more. My family and I love these villages and tried several in Europe and the US. It’s just pure relaxing fun.
  • Cruise – this is another type of lodging and a completely different type of trip experience. The new cruise boats have everything you can imagine on them so you can enjoy great entertainment for the entire family, amazing food, shopping, and much more—all that while traveling to different locations.
  • Home exchange – you can either rent homes on sites such as Airbnb or even exchange your home with other families.
  • RV – RVs and Trailers are another option to consider when planning your next trip. It’s a different experience, had its advantages and disadvantages like any other option.
  • Camping – Enjoy the freedom of the outdoors and connect with nature. If you’re less experienced with camping, there are organized places where you can rent a ready-to-use, equipped tent.

Pro Tip

Try to experience new ways of traveling but remember to choose those that your family likes.

Hotels hate empty rooms

hotel rooms

If you can, wait until the last minute to book your hotel room and enjoy better rates.

Pro Tip

If it's high season, if your traveling with kids, if it's a very touristic place, think carefully before taking a risk of booking at the last minute.

Resell Your Hotel Room

sale signs

Plans change for different reasons, and you might get stuck with a nonrefundable hotel room booking. However, you can try to resell it to someone else using sites such as RoomerTravel.com.

You probably won’t get the price you paid. After all, the site needs to earn its fee, and buyers expect lower prices than a regular booking. Still, it’s much better than losing the entire amount you paid for the booking.

Pro Tip

Plans change. Think about cancellation insurance the next time you book a hotel.

Selfmade cooler right in your hotel room

Selfmade cooler right in your hotel room

Need to cool down some drinks and don’t have a fridge? Use the sink as a cooler. Fill the sink with water and ice from the machine, and you got yourself a great cooler.

Pro Tip

Grab a six-pack from the local store and skip the hotel bar to save some money.

Surprising Free Hotel Amenities

hotel shower with some soaps and creams

In case you forgot to pack something (we’ve all been there), try to take it easy and don’t let it ruin your trip. Your hotel will probably be able to help you with the complimentary amenities they provide.

These are things we found that hotels can provide. Some are basic, and some, you’ll have to ask for:

  • Toiletries – disposable razor, toothpaste, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, hair gel, lip balm, deodorant, 
  • Hair-Styling Tools – Hair dryers are a standard in most hotels. Some properties may offer more serious styling tools like flat irons and curling irons.
  • Stain-Remover Wipes
  • Lint Rollers
  • Workout Gear – if there’s no gym at the hotel, they might be able to offer yoga mate and other equipment.
  • Electronics Chargers and adapters – forgot your phone charger? Got the wrong type of electric socket or adaptor? Your cord doesn’t work? Call the front desk. They probably have what you need to lend you.
  • TSA-Approved 3-1-1 Liquid Bags – You’ll need these bags for your flight carry-on. These bags contain the toiletries we want to carry with us. So there’s no need to waste your time looking for bags or buy a whole pack.
  • Entertainment – want to stay in your room and feeling bored? You can try to check if they have books or board games.

Pro Tip

  • Use our packing list to avoid forgetting stuff. In case you have something missing, try asking the front desk.

  • If you want to pack light, it's better to check with the hotel in advance if they'll be able to provide the equipment you need. For example, instead of carrying your hair styling tools, call ahead to your hotel and see if it can lend you what you need.


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Last update: February 2022

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