Tag Archives: accommodation

5 Tips How to Save on Hotels

Everyone knows that costs of accommodation is an essential part of all the costs for any travel activities. In order to keep up with the travel habits, first step for budget friendly trips is to look for the ways to lover costs of the trip.

I’m one of those people – I want to keep on going to seminars I’m used to; I want to visit places I havent been; I want to return to the places I like. Well, I’m still looking for some comfort during the trip – internet access, breakfast, access gym / pool or fitness facilities… So, usually I’m interested are  2 – 3 star hotels. If it happens to find great deal – have nothing against 4 stars 🙂 But what I ‘d like to add that this rating of stars depends on country.

Here are 5 tips how to lover costs of accommodation from my experience:

1. – Check out big booking engines to see what are the overage offers for your chosen travel destination. If going to US, Travelocity is the first place to look. I know there are many other sites  but the main idea is to see the options at first. What comes to hotels in European countries I’m choosing Booking. com because they have very good  database for all European destinations. Lately they have added great deals ( with ‘reasonable prices‘)  of Russian main travel destinations as well.

2. Look for special internet offers on hotels website. Not always but very often you can find better price there than big hotel booking engines are offering. My favorite hotel for northern Europe and Scandinavia is Scandic Hotels. Amongst special offers there is one that offers up to 35% discounted price  – if to stay 2 or 3 nights. Often there are some special deals for particular hotels.

If the basic price is around 60 Euros or more, then often there are options to find offers for 44 Euros. For one of my next trips I have already made reservation for hotel in Stockholm for 384 SEK (~$60).  With courtesy breakfast, fitness facilities & free Internet access this price is very reasonable for Scandinavian countries or northern Europe.

3. Actually end of previous tip is beginning of this one – look what’s included in the price.  Maybe there are cheaper hotels, but if you have to pay for the breakfast or usage of internet per hour, then sometimes slightly higher price is better deal. This is why I like Scandic Hotels – always good breakfast & free WiFi access included. Holiday Inn might sounds good as well but mainly you have to pay additional for these services.

4. If you are flexible on your travel time, compare prices of hotel rooms for  weekdays / weekends. Tourist oriented hotels will have lower price during the week but hotels oriented to local business & events often have lower prices during the weekend.

Once while traveling in Norway, I stayed in two hotels while in Oslo. Because with all the prices in Norway, any hotel  accommodation around 600 – 700 NOK ($ 100 – 120)  is already a ‘good price’. So I found that there are two special offers for different days in different hotels. With some planing of activities / attractions to see & because I was traveling light, actually is was not so complicated to use them for my stay. But I saved more than third of total original costs for 2 night stay.

5. Join the club! If you are frequent traveler or usually stay in some certain hotel brand, sign up for the rewards program. One thing is that you will earn free stays, but besides it as a ‘prefered guest member’ might receive upgrades or special amenities. So price might be the same but additonal services are nice 🙂

Often hotels have special discounts for loyal customers up to 20%. If you are a member of some airline loyalty program already, then you can earn additional miles for the stay or get some special offer.

To read more ideas how to save on hotels, check out to my website AmberTravelBox.com. If hotels are too expensive, try vacation rentals or hostels (some might be not bad at all for company of 3 or 4 people).

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3 things to make any trip comfortable.

Time is precious and we wish that our travel experience would be the best from beginning to the minute we return home. This is my live and this is your live. Choose places and people around you that make your dreams come true and life easier.

By saying ‘make a trip more comfortable’ I didn’t mean spend more. I would say pay for things that are reasonable but avoid necessary spendings.

Here are 3 ideas to make travel more comfortable:

1. When booking a trip check flight arrival / departure times. On what time you will need to get up to make it to the 5:45am flight? And if arriving at you travel destination around midnight – how you’ll get to the hotel 20 – 40 miles  away? One thing is that these departure/arrival times often come with additional expenses for taxi.

In Europe most Airports have good public transport connection during the day but at night the only option could be a taxi (unless someone is meeting you).  Though if traveling in company of 3-4 people expenses for taxi are reasonable.

In US situation is a bit different because people are more used to renting a car at the Airport. Not bad option if you know the place but arriving first time in new destination can be confusing. Is it comfortable to start a trip by driving around the Airport area  and looking for right exit in direction you need?

If traveling for a short getaway I prefer to take a flights with 8 – 12am arrival at my travel destination  and pick the latest departure for going back home.  

2. Book a hotel with the gym/sauna/swimming pool. For active travelers this is great option to keep up with fitness activities. I’m the one of these folks therefore I prefer hotels that has one of these facilities. Because in the evening it’s so nice to go to the sauna after long walks or go to the yoga or pilates class next morning.

If hotel prices are similar I would pick the one with access to local fitness club near the hotel. This option provides larger selection of workout machines and often provides fitness classes as well.

3.  When looking for accomodation, start with the hotels providing complimentary breakfast and free wireless Internet at first. Because small costs like $3 for Internet hour, $10 up to $20 per breakfast will significantly increase total price for accomodation.

This makes easy start for the day  – wake up, take a shower and go to the breakfast. But free Internet access in the room is more useful in the evening, when after the long day to check e-mails or latest news from home. But both these things together make travel comfortable.

Seasonal accomodation in Europe.

It’s wintertime here in Europe. As you know its cold and we have a lot of snow for a few months. Creative and business minded people are using this.

For people who are looking for extreme experience there are several winter accommodations – hotels or igloo’s build from snow.  Rooms are created by ice artists. Each year the places are a little bit different because these hotels are seasonal 🙂

Room temperature in ice hotel is 0 to – 6 C ( 32 – 21 F). Imagine – you  sleep on reindeer skins in special sleeping bags. In the morning there is hot lingonberry juice  served. For more fun you can try ride with the snow-mobile or dog sled.

There are several ice hotels are located in Scandinavia. Most famous are original ICEHOTEL is located in small village Jukkasjarvi, Sweden and SnowVillage in Lainio, Finland. Both these places are around 200 km above the Arctic Circle. The new entry in this category is Kirkenes SnowHotel in Norway.

Check out before they are melted!

P.S. If you are not for so extreme adventures but wanna feel, how it is to be there – visit ICEBAR in Stockholm, London, Copenhagen, Tokio or Oslo.

Budget Travel Resolutions for 2011

Time before New Year is the one when people are thinking about the good things they intend to do next year. If you like traveling, then there are few resolutions you should consider. If you are already doing some of this then take it as a reminder of  things for budget friendly traveling in 20011.

1.- Plan your trip and book transportation, hotel in advance.

This will save you a lot of money, if you’ll make flight reservation 5-6 months in advance. Think about possible travel options  and do a little online reasearch.  You’ll see that there are many great deals right now to choose for next summer traveling. Same applies for hotels.  Few days ago I was checking hotel prices in Paris for June and actually few budget friendly  accommodations with good location were already fully booked.

I know many people will say that last-minute deals are better. Well yes – they are better if to compare with prices 2-3 month in advance because airlines/hotels try to sell out last empty places. But if to compare those prices with the ones that are booked 5-7 month in advance, then they don’t seem so great any more.

2.- Sign up for Twitter and Facebook!

Are you familiar with these social media networks? Many travel related companies – airlines, hotels, attractions are often posting special offers and rates to their fans and followers. Sign up for an account and follow the brands you might be interested.

3.- Avoid unnecessary hotel add-on fees!

When booking a hotel read all the small print what comes with the great deals – resort fee, breakfast bill, parking fee. Besides – before using ‘room service‘ or ‘local phone calls’ check the price for these services.  Be aware of the prices of in-room mini-bars. many of them are with sensors for removed items and $5 mini-candy bar will be added to your bill.

4. – Practice light traveling.

10 day vacation doesn’t require 4 bags per person. Lately many airlines practice baggage fee for checked-in items.  Actually there are charges for over-weight luggage as well.  They are not dramatic but count how many times you will need to pay for transportation/ storage per piece and count.

It is allowed to take on board 2 pieces of carry-on luggage – a bag and a purse or laptop case. If traveling doesn’t take more that a week then with this amount of luggage you should be fine. Just think of the items that are really necessary and which ones you maybe will need ‘what if… happens’. Read more at travel packing advice.

5. – Look for hotels with complimentary breakfast and free wireless Internet included.

Dont expect that every hotel will provide these services. even if the room price seems great, count how much it will cost if you will have to pay additional $10 up t $20 per breakfast every day and $3 to $5 per hour for internet access.