5 Ways to Find Free or Cheap Hotels, Homestays, and Hostels
When you’re traveling on a budget, your biggest expenditure ends up being the roof over your head every night. These smart sites, apps, and extensions ensure you spend as little as possible on accommodation and even get it for free in some cases.
You probably already know about Booking.com, Google’s hotel finder, and the other great hotel search engines out there. But the deals you find on those aren’t always the best price. So before you book your next travel night, check out these tools.
Service for Hotels (Web): Get Discounts Post-Booking
When you book a hotel, it’s available at a certain price. But often, hotels will discount the same type of room after you’ve already booked. Service tracks such discounts and ensures you get the same deal saving you money in the process.
You don’t have to do anything to get these discounts. Service tracks the booking automatically and re-books your room at the new price. It’s the simplest way to save money even after you have already booked, ensuring you get the best price or something even better.
Service also does this for airlines, saving you money on canceled or delayed flights. Yup, you can finally make the airline pay you for that inconvenience. Service charges 30% of all the money it saves for you, which is a pretty good deal since it’s making you money anyway.
Worldpackers (Web): Work in Exchange for Free Accommodation
Worldpackers is the best way to get free accommodation during your travels. In exchange, you will be doing some small jobs to help out the people giving you a room. Simple, eh?
Go to the site and search for the city you are visiting. You’ll get a list of all the types of jobs and accommodation available, based on the types of skills you want to use, like labor, teaching English, etc. Each listing clearly states how many hours a day or week you will be working and what your duties are. The listing will also state the kind of free stay you get, and any bonuses like free meals, days off, transport, and other perks.
Apply for the jobs you like and cross your fingers. You might soon be staying for free and even getting your meals while touring the new city in your non-work hours.
Worldpackers also lets you work with NGOs and other outfits with a social cause, again giving you free stay in return. So not only do you get free stay, but you’ll also be doing things for a good cause.
Student Universe (Web): Extra Discounts for Students
You can get a lot of free and discounted stuff with a .edu email address or a student ID card, so why should hotels and hostels be any different? Student Universe shows you places with an extra discount for students aged 26 or less.
While the site is best known for great flight deals, it also has partners in the hotel industry who offer discounts to students. For all you know, you might get a decent room at the same price as a bed in a hostel’s dormitory. And sure, you also get to see hostel options along with the hotel partner deals.
The site is best used by registering for an account with your school’s email address. In case you don’t have any .edu email address, you might not be able to get many of the benefits of their partner programs.
All The Rooms (Web): Search AirBnB and Hotels in the Same Site
Most hotel and hostel search engines don’t include AirBnB listings in their results. That’s a bit silly because you can get some major benefits from booking AirBnB over hotels. All The Rooms is the best search engine to look for hotels alongside AirBnB listings.
This is an aggregator site, searching for results from Booking.com, Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, HomeAway, Hostelworld, VRBO, and AirBnB. So you get accommodation options of all sorts, from a bed in a dormitory to a lovely homestay. Using the site is as simple as any other, where you only need to add your travel dates and destination. You can filter the results to add essential features and sort the listings.
You don’t actually make any bookings through All The Rooms, which is the only inconvenience of the site. You’ll usually have to visit the original booking for that. That’s why I wouldn’t advise making an account at All The Rooms, it’s quite pointless.
Gopher (Chrome): Price Comparison to Find Better Deals
One of the best ways to save money on a hotel deal is to book it directly from the hotel’s own website, and request a discount if possible. Gopher, an extension for Google Chrome, does that automatically for you in the background through its price comparison engine.
When you see the final price before booking your hotel on a site like Booking.com, Gopher will jump into action and check that hotel’s own website. If there’s a better deal on the original site (and there often is), you will get an alert and be taken there directly. You can end up saving quite a bit of money in the process.
To get an idea of the savings, go to Gopher’s deals page to see recent bookings made with the app. Gopher also has a cashback reward program, but only use it if you don’t plan on using the cash back rewards of any other loyalty program you belong to. You can’t double dip.
Staying in Hotels? Protect Your Data
Just as you should be a little vigilant about your luggage and valuables in a hotel, you also need to be vigilant about your data’s security. In fact, hotels have a lot of information about you and can easily leak that and more if you aren’t careful. Here are the potential risks to your personal data when you’re staying at a hotel, and what you can do about it.
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