Top 13 Hotel Hacks to Save Money on Your Next Family Vacation

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Traveling with family can be an adventure, but the costs can add up quickly, especially when it comes to hotel stays. As someone who takes frequent road trips and family vacations across the US, I’ve learned a thing or two about finding great deals on accommodations.

I’m excited to share my top 13 hotel hacks to save money on family vacations. These tips will help you stretch your travel budget further, so you can enjoy more experiences and make lasting memories without breaking the bank. Ready to start planning your next budget-friendly getaway and learn how to get a hotel room cheap?

Need a little help planning a weekend getaway?

Check out my new e-course “Escape the Routine: Weekend Getaway Strategies for Busy Families!” In just a few short hours you’ll be planning YOUR next family getaway!

I’m ready to plan my family getaway!

Hack 1: Book Directly with the Hotel vs. Travel Portal

Booking directly with the hotel can often save you money compared to using travel portals. Many hotels offer the best rate guarantees when you book through their website, meaning they will match or beat any lower price you find elsewhere. Plus, booking directly can come with added perks such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, or room upgrades that you might not get when using a third-party site.

Another advantage is the ability to earn loyalty points for future stays. Hotel chains sometimes don’t give you reward points if you book through a portal. These points are super valuable for free nights – in fact, my goal for this year was to pay for all our travel soccer nights with points (and I was successful!) So, for the best deals and extra points, it’s worth checking the hotel’s own site first.

two beds in a hotel room

Hack 2: Use Price Comparison Websites

One of the best ways to find great deals on hotels is by using price comparison websites. Sites like Expedia, Booking.com, Trivago, and Hotels.com allow you to compare prices across multiple hotels quickly and easily. These platforms can help you find the best rates and discover special deals that you might miss if you only look at one site.

When using comparison websites, make sure to compare the total cost, including taxes and fees, not just the base rate. Also, check for any extra amenities or benefits that could make a slightly higher price more valuable overall. What I like to do is check a price comparison website first and then head over to the chain hotel website for the room I want to book – ususally I can get the same rate there and then I’m using Hack 1 too!

Even after you’ve booked, don’t stop looking for better deals. Most hotels allow free cancellations up to a certain date, so if you find a better price later, you can rebook at the lower rate. I check my flights, car rentals and hotels about once a week up until I can’t cancel anymore – I almost ALWAYS save money somewhere by doing this.

Kimpton Hotel pool in Miami, Florida

Hack 3: Leverage Loyalty Programs

I’m not gonna lie, this is my favorite hack. I love my loyalty programs. I have a credit card for each of the major chains (IHG, Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham), and not only did I earn a TON of points with the credit card sign ups (free nights people!), but I get quite a few extra perks.

For example, with IHG because I have the credit card I get a free night each year, the fourth night FREE when booking with points (this perk saved us 40K points on an upcoming Dublin trip) and Platnium Elite status which means late check out, upgrades when available, etc.

And the perks are similar for all the other cards too. I travel enough that I like to use multiple chains, but if you are just starting out, pick one and go heavy into that chain until you know how to use it and start getting good deals – then move on.

Insider tip: If you’d like any referral links to any of the credit cards, just shoot me an email pam(at)ouradventureiseverywhere.com and I’ll be happy to send you the best deal I can find so you’ll get the most points along with my favorite tips for that hotel chain.

Hack 4: Look for Package Deals

I don’t use this hack often, but every once in a while I’ll find a package deal that is better than pricing my travel component separately. Typically it’s for either theme park or ski vacations as both of those tend to be really pricey.

What I’ll do is go ahead and price out the trip booking hotel, flights, car rental and theme park tickets separately and then go over to the vacation destination site to book a package. It’s easy enough to compare the totals then and see which is the best deal!

two hotel beds in a Disney World hotel

Hack 5: Be Flexible Travel Off-Peak/ Look for Nearby Hotels

With kids in school I typically can’t be flexible with traveling off-peak, but I CAN be flexible with hotel location. If you can travel during off-peak seasons you can save a tone of money, but even if you are like me and can’t do that yet, consider location flexibility.

A great example is our recent trip to New Orleans. I booked two hotels for that stay and they were both on the edge of the French Quarter, so a five to ten minute walk verus right in the middle of the action. We actually liked being in a slightly quieter location and the hotels were MUCH nicer than we could have afforded in the midst of the French Quarter. And, since they were still within walking distance of most of the attractions, we could have easily gotten by without a car (live and learn on that one!).

Hack 6: Use Discount Codes and Coupons

As a coupon queen, I love a good coupon or discount code! I always check for what’s available before booking my hotels. The best resources tend to be the hotel chains themselves. If you are a member of their award program (which you should be after hack #3), then make sure to sign up for the emails. Most months there is some type of discount or extra point promo you can take advantage of.

A terrific example of this is last summer’s family trip to Miami. We stayed at a Kimpton (one of my favorite brands), because they had 30% off rewards nights or cash for select hotels – it made picking our hotel a breeze and we saved quite a bit on the stay.

The other way I get cash back on every hotel stay is to use a cash back portal like Rakuten when I book my rooms. No, you won’t get cash back on free nights or using points, but if you are paying cash for a room you can get an additional 2% to 15% back which really adds up!

Wyndham condo in Myrtle Beach, NC

Hack 7: Opt for Condos or Vacation Rentals

Many years ago we bought some cheap timeshares resale and some of our best stays have been using those points. I wouldn’t avdovate buying a timeshare retail (or maybe even resale depending upon your situation), because these days many of the properties can be found on VRBO or rented directly from the hotel chain they are affiliated with.

I also will often rent a VRBO when I want a longer beach stay or there aren’t any great hotels available. A perfect example is our recent trip to Siesta Key. There aren’t hotel options if you want to stay on the ocean, so our condo was perfect. Plus, the added benefit of a condo is the kitchen. You can save a LOT of money by making breakfast and snacks in your room (not to mention quick lunches, adult beverages, etc.).

Most hotel chains also often have a property that is condo-like which could be an affordable option too. If the price for a Staybridge Suites is the same as a Holiday Inn Express, it might make sense to book the Staybridge – you’ll have more room and save on food if you take advantage of the kitchen. So, in other words, even if you prefer hotel stays (and I get it, I’m a hotel girl), don’t ignore other possibilities.

Hack 8: Check for Free Amenities

When booking a hotel, consider the value of free amenities that can save you money during your stay. Many hotels offer complimentary perks that can add up to significant savings. Look for hotels that provide free breakfast, Wi-Fi, parking, or even shuttle services. These amenities can help you cut down on additional expenses, making your trip more affordable.

Free breakfast, for example, can save a family of 4 a considerable amount each day, especially in cities where dining out can be pricey – I know even a fast food breakfast is easily $10 a person, so that’s $40 a day! Complimentary Wi-Fi ensures you stay connected without extra charges, and free parking is a big bonus if you’re on a road trip and traveling with your own vehicle. For example on our recent New Orleans trip, parking was $46 per day, but we got it free thanks to my IHG status!

When searching for hotels, filter your results to include these free amenities. This way, you can easily compare which hotels offer the best value for your stay. Don’t forget to read the fine print, as some hotels may charge hidden fees for amenities that appear to be free. Resort fees are often added to your bill and include things like “free WiFi, etc.” but you HAVE to pay that fee.

hotel room

Hack 9: Negotiate Directly with the Hotel

Don’t be afraid to negotiate directly with the hotel to get a better deal. While it might feel a bit weird, many hotels are open to negotiation, especially if they’re not fully booked. A quick phone call can sometimes yield discounts, room upgrades, or added perks that aren’t available online.

When negotiating, be polite and straightforward. Mention if you’re a member of any loyalty programs or if you’ve seen a better rate elsewhere. You can also ask about any special promotions or discounts they might be able to offer. If you’re traveling during off-peak times or staying for an extended period, you’re more likely to get a favorable response.

Insider tip: Don’t feel comfortable asking in person or on the phone? Try sending an email to the general manager. Mention you are excited for your stay and are hoping because you are a member of their loyalty club you’d love an upgrade if it’s available. If you are traveling for a special occasion be sure to mention that too.

Additionally, negotiating can sometimes lead to perks like free breakfast, parking, or late check-out. Every little bit helps when it comes to saving money on your trip, so don’t hesitate to ask. A simple conversation could enhance your stay while keeping costs down. And remember, if you don’t ask the answer is always no!

hotel room in New Orleans, LA

Hack 10: Use Cashback and Reward Credit Cards

Using cashback and reward credit cards is a smart way to save money on hotel stays and earn benefits for future travel. This is one of my favorite hacks – I use my credit card points all the time for free stays! Many credit cards have terrific signup bonuses which can help you rack up tons of points. Plus, by using the right cards for everyday spending, you can accumulate even more points, miles, or cashback.

To maximize your savings, pay attention to any special promotions or bonus categories that your card offers. For example, some cards offer extra points for booking through their travel portals or during specific promotional periods. My favorite is that one of my cards earns me 8x points for gas – something that I’m buying anyway, and those points are super useful for when I visit my daughter at college.

Insider tip: Always pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges that can negate the benefits of your rewards. If you can’t do this, don’t put your purchase on a card.

Hack 11: Use a Last Minute App When Booking Late

Even though I’m a fan of planning my stays ahead of time, sometimes I find myself needing to book a room last minute (maybe I’m on the road and don’t know ahead of time exactly where I’ll end up). If this sounds like you, before you book the first hotel you find, check a last minute Booking.com or Trivago.com.

Sometimes this will help you find a much less expensive option than you could find on your own – and at least it will stop you from having to check a bunch of different sites. Do a quick Trivago search, then go to the chain that is the one you want and double check pricing there.

Hack 12: Make Your Own Breakfast

Was your best hotel rate one that doesn’t offer breakfast? Or maybe your status isn’t high enough to cover free breakfast. Well, these days almost all hotels (except the ones in Las Vegas) typically have a mini-fridge and microwave in the room. With those two small appliances you can easily make your own breakfast.

When I find myself in this situation, I bring along a cooler if I’m driving filled with a few simple breakfast items. If I’m lucky, the hotel has free coffee in the lobby even if they don’t have free breakfast (for example Kimpton almost always has delicious coffee in the morning), but even if they don’t, making breakfast and maybe running out for coffee is a huge cost savings!

Not driving? Just make your first stop a local grocery store or even use Instacart or Amazon Prime to have a few groceries delivered. I’m always going to want a case of water, so it’s not difficult to add on a few extras when I place the order.

Michigan cider in a can with two to-go cups beside it

Hack 13: Create Your Own Happy Hour

I’ve always been a fan of Embassy Suites or Drury hotels for their fun happy hours (or Kimpton’s wine hour is nice too!), but they are often on the more expensive end and if I’m trying to save a little money on my hotel stay I just create my own happy hour.

Add some beverages to your cooler on your road trips or some fun drinks to your Instacart order when you arrive. I’ve even hit the local liquour store to see if I can find something unique to the area to try. Or if you enjoy visiting local breweries or wineries when you travel don’t hesitate to buy a few items to indulge in later in your room.

Need a little help planning a weekend getaway?

Check out my new e-course “Escape the Routine: Weekend Getaway Strategies for Busy Families!” In just a few short hours you’ll be planning YOUR next family getaway!

I’m ready to plan my family getaway!

Conclusion: How to Save Money on Hotels

Saving money on hotel stays doesn’t have to be a hassle. With these 13 hacks, you can enjoy family vacations without breaking the bank. From booking directly with the hotel to leveraging loyalty programs and using cashback credit cards, each tip helps you maximize your travel budget. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for free amenities, negotiate directly with hotels, and use price comparison websites to ensure you get the best deal possible.

Traveling with your family should be about making memories, not stressing over costs. By incorporating these hacks to save money into your travel planning, you can focus on what truly matters—enjoying your time together. So, start planning your next adventure with these money-saving strategies in mind, and watch how far your travel budget can stretch.

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