Six Hotel and Travel Mistakes That Are Costing You Money
One of the most important parts of planning a trip is finding the perfect place to stay. If it's a business trip, you'll probably look for accommodations that offer you all of the amenities you'll need to clock quality sleep while getting your work done. A much-needed personal vacation, on the other hand, might mean you're looking for something more creative, ultra-unique, or truly memorable. In any case, your home away from home will cost you — but there are some hotel savings strategies you can use to make sure you don't overpay. Wouldn't you rather use your savings to treat yourself to a spa day, a choice meal, rooftop cocktails, or a local activity you've always wanted to try? Here are some tricky hotel booking mistakes to watch out for.
1. You book nonrefundable rooms. Booking a nonrefundable room to save a few bucks can be an expensive blunder if your plans end up needing to change. A nonrefundable reservation can also become a costly mistake if you accidentally book the wrong hotel — they sometimes have similar-sounding names, and some (even in the same locale) might have the same name.
How to Fix It: Hotels offer several types of booking options, and you'll generally see choices for nonrefundable rooms (with slightly lower rates) alongside options you can cancel within the window outlined on the website. When you can, it's a good idea to book rooms that leave you the flexibility to cancel at any moment. After all, sometimes all it takes is one long flight delay to throw things off course.
2. You don't compare prices online. You might have a favorite hotel and book with them directly, or maybe you just grab the first good deal you find without thinking twice. Either way, failing to do a little research before you click to commit can lead you to spend more money than you need to.
How to Fix It: Hotel prices vary by website, so it never hurts to run a quick Google search before you finalize your reservation. Once you type your hotel into the search bar, you'll see a box appear on the right-hand side of your search where you can enter dates and scan prices from most major sites, including Expedia and Hotels.com. You can also book online to earn additional cash back (we're big fans of Ebates!) and take advantage of special web or app promo codes. If it serves you, sign up for an email newsletter to receive an initial offering; once you use it, you can immediately unsubscribe.
3. You pay for parking at the hotel after you arrive. On-site parking at city hotels can add up fast; some charge as much as $75 per day. In a single week, that's an extra $525!
How to Fix It: Ditching your car to walk, take public transit, or use ridesharing services while enjoying time in the city can save you stress and free up funds. But if plan to drive to your urban destination and aren't up for shelling out extra money for a bit of convenience, see if you can scout out a garage or parking spot nearby. SpotHero lets you search and reserve garage parking in advance in most major cities, while Way.com lists less conventional options (such as locals who offer up their personal garage spaces or curbside spots).
4. You skip out on a continental breakfast. It's true that the typical continental breakfast isn't usually the tastiest meal of the day, but a quick pit stop before heading out in the morning is a more affordable option than ordering overpriced (and often equally underwhelming) room service.
How to Fix It: Unless you've planned for a fabulous breakfast or are anticipating brunch, breeze by the free brekkie to score a quick cup of coffee, grab a couple pieces of fruit, and eat something like an egg or piece of whole-grain toast. Your nutritious choices will tide you over, leave you with a snack for later, and free up a bit of extra cash too.
5. You still pay for WiFi. WiFi is essential for most travelers nowadays, yet not all hotels offer it for free. Some charge for basic WiFi, while others offer options to upgrade to a faster speed, which might be mandatory if you plan to pop on your portable speaker to enjoy some Spotify jams or stream your favorite Netflix show while cozying up on a balcony.
How to Fix It: Many free hotel loyalty programs offer fast complimentary WiFi to members. You'll also probably love some of the other benefits of being a member even if you don't stay often, such as options for early check-in or late check-out, along with food and beverage credits. Some groups like the Ritz-Carlton will help you sign up on the spot during your check-in, while most others have a section on their website where you can join.
6. You don't consider the cost of resort fees. Resort fees charged by some hotels can rack up quickly. While the average fee clocks in around $25 per day, it's not unheard of them to go as high as $50 per day. What's more, a seemingly affordable hotel may have other fees that aren't completely clear and will be charged to your card on file separately from the room price you pay; one TripAdvisor contributor reported being charged an extra $90 in random fees after booking a “$170" room. Yikes!
How to Fix It: Read the fine print before you book! If something isn't clear, call the hotel to confirm before you move forward. Know which fees to ask about, including resort fees, mandatory parking/valet fees, separate pool and spa fees, cleaning fees, newspaper delivery fees, and processing fees.
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(Photos via Getty)
This article has been updated to correct links.