1. Time Your Stay Right
In some areas, you can save up to 50 percent off rack rates if you travel during the off-season. Everyone wants to visit Hawaii when it's cold, but hotel rooms generally go for a lot less in spring or fall. You can also save money on different days of the week. At some business hotels, for instance, weekend prices drop; conversely, the prices at some leisure hotels fall midweek.
2. Look for Special Rates
Many hotels regularly offer special packages that may include reduced rates, extra nights free and destination or hotel perks. And sometimes, if you stay seven or more consecutive nights, you'll qualify for substantial savings. Look for "special package" links on the hotel's website when researching.
3. Book Packages
Packages that combine airfare, car and hotel, or airfare and hotel, can save you money overall. What's more, you might find that better-quality hotels are more affordable as part of a package. Check the websites of airlines as well as booking sites like the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia, Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com for deals.
4. Compare Prices on the Internet
Don't just check hotel websites when pricing. Sites like Hotels.com and Quikbook.com might just have deals not offered by hotels themselves. When researching, though, be sure to compare apples to apples and to include things like taxes and service charges in the pricing.
5. Maximize Your Hotel Dollars
Join a chain hotel's frequent-visitor club. Signing up is free, and brand-loyal guests are rewarded with discounts, perks or upgrades. Also, look into hotel-rewards credit cards. The points you earn when you use them to pay for hotels (and, sometimes, for purchases in general) can be cashed in for a free night's stay. Finally, shop hotel chains for their amenities. Free parking, gym privileges, Internet access and breakfast can mean substantial hotel savings. And rooms with an en-suite kitchen — or even just a refrigerator and a microwave — enable you to prepare your own meals, and save money on food.
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