Nowadays the best way to book budget accommodation is online. There are many websites that offer all types of accommodations, hotels, apartments, hostel rooms, guesthouses, bed and breakfast, camping and more.
Based on our travel and working experience, it is easy for us to search for the right accommodation for our holidays. On the other hand, booking the right hotel or apartment with no experience, might not be an easy task for everyone.
In this post, we share all our experience and know-how on how to find budget accommodation. We share our best tips and trick on how to get the best deals and how to avoid accommodation scams.
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How to book Budget accommodation
In this part, we share our know-how on how to find the right accommodation for you at the best price.
We tried many websites which provide accommodation, however, we mainly use Booking.com. They offer all types of accommodation, you can filter the search based on your needs and the customer service works 24/7 in case you need them.
For us, the best version is the Booking.com app, as you can easily book accommodation in a few minutes. There is also an option to communicate with the accommodation directly and you can easily manage your reservation through the app.
Here are some tips on how to use accommodation websites to get the best deal.
1. Register/Sign in to the Accommodation website
The first thing you should always do it to register/sign in to the accommodation websites. Most of the websites offer a discount only to the registered users and if you are not registered you might not even see the deals.
The second reason for registering is that you will receive emails with specific offers, last-minute deals or coupons for specific travel destinations.
In the case of Booking.com, there are many daily or last-minute deals, which are only visible to registered users. You can also join their Genius program which provides additional discounts. We will talk about Genius’s discount further in this post.
Another advantage of being a registered user is that all your information is saved at your account. You can easily save your contact details, preferences and payment details. Every time you will make a reservation for your accommodation, you just confirm all the details and you can basically make any booking in the question of a few minutes.
2. Membership, Loyalty and Reward Programs
The second tip we recommend is to join membership, loyalty or reward programs which are offered through the accommodation websites.
For those who are frequent travelers, you can always join the airline loyal programs to accumulate miles or points. However many people are not aware that you can also join the membership programs of big hotel chains like Hilton, but also accommodation websites.
Booking.com Genius Program
In the case of Booking.com, they offer 2 Levels of Genius Loyalty program based on the number of bookings you make with them. There are 2 Levels of Genius Program which offer a 10% or 15 % discount.
To unlock the Level 1 Genius program and get a 10 % discount, you need to create an account and complete 2 stays within the last 2 years.
To reach the Level 2 Genius Program and get a 15 % discount, you need to complete another 3 reservations to reach 5 stays within the last 2 years. Sometimes you can also get free breakfast or other freebies depending on the accommodation offer.
When you join the program, you can easily find properties that participate in the Genius program as they have yellow banner Genius. You can also filter the accommodation to show the first properties with Genius discount.
We reached the Level 2 Genius program at Booking.com quite easily and we were able to get some great deals and extra freebies so we definitely recommend this program.
3. Deals, Coupons, and Offers
As we mentioned before, when you create an account at an accommodation website, most of the time, you can get some freebie, coupon or special offer.
If you search at Facebook, you can join various groups that offer discounts, coupons trough referral links. We joined one group but it is in Czech so I don’t think is useful, but we are sure there many English ones.
You can also check websites like Groupon.com which offers discounts and great deals all the time.
4. Longer Stay/Flexible Days
Usually, the most expensive night is Saturday night. If you are searching for a weekend trip, the best is to book at least 2 nights, Friday and Saturday night as the second night will be always cheaper.
If you are planning longer holidays, the best is to book for 7 or more nights to get the best deals. Ideally, you book from Sunday to Sunday or Friday to Friday, but usually, the most expensive is the stay from Saturday to Saturday.
Sometimes properties add restrictions of minimum stay so if you want to stay 1 night only, it won’t be available. Some accommodations only offer min 7 night stays so try to plan it ahead if you want a specific accommodation.
Flexible days are the best, so if you don’t have to book in on Saturday night, the best is Sunday or Monday night. When you stay more days, the price per night is always cheaper than the price for one night only.
5. Best Price Guarantee
Most of the accommodation websites offer the Best price guarantee. Basically, they guarantee that if you make a reservation at their website, and find the same accommodation somewhere else cheaper, they will match the price.
It sounds like a great deal, but be careful as sometimes there are very specific conditions to be able to apply for the best price guarantee (We price match).
We add the conditions for We price Match at Booking.com so you can claim the refund based on their conditions.
Our Extra Tip:
When we book accommodation in advance, we always go for the option with free cancellation. We regularly check the booked accommodation to make sure that the price is the same. If we see that the price decreased, we make a new reservation for a cheaper price and cancel the other one. This way we were able to pay 200 EUR less when we went to New York as the price for a double room was changing regularly.
6. Last-Minute Deals and Off-Peak Deals
Sometimes we wait for the last minute deals and book accommodation the day or two before we go on a trip. This way you can get last-minute deals for the rooms which were not sold yet and the accommodation put extra discounts to make sure they sell the room.
The disadvantage might be the lack of variety as usually, it is one of the last rooms or apartments in the accommodation.
Also if you like to plan your trip in advance, this is not the best choice for you. It is more for spontaneous travelers who decide to go on a weekend trip within a few hours.
For us, we like to plan our trips in advance but also once a while to go on spontaneous trips for a few days. This way we booked a great accommodation in Bruges, Belgium for a cheaper price.
Off-Peak deals are another story, as most of the people in Europe travel during July and August. If you can, we strongly suggest avoiding these months for your holidays.
We usually travel during October and November as we can travel to the same destination much cheaper than during the peak season.
7. Free Cancellation
When making a reservation, be extra careful with the policies. We always recommend booking accommodation with free cancellation as you never know if you need to modify it later or even cancel.
In case, we book a last-minute deal and we know that we are going to travel tomorrow, we can also opt-in for non-refundable policy.
However, when you are booking a non-refundable policy, make sure that you travel 100% as most of the accommodations don’t allow you to waive fees if you want to cancel it.
At Booking.com you can filter the accommodations with free cancellation only, so you don’t have to worry that you did not check the policy carefully.
The disadvantage might be that accommodation with free cancellation is usually more expensive than the one with stricter or non-refundable policy.
We follow this rule, if we plan our trip some tip ahead, we book it with free cancellation. If we go on a spontaneous trip and we travel within a few days, we book the best option even with a non-refundable policy.
How to avoid accommodation scams
During our trips, we heard many times that people were scammed by different travel and accommodation websites.
As we mentioned before, the best way to book accommodation nowadays is probably online and this brings many scams. There are many types of travel scams and in this part, we will focus mainly on the accommodation scams and how to avoid them.
1. Redirection from trusted sites for payment
This type is a very common accommodation scam as after you make a reservation, you will be contacted and asked to make a payment somewhere else.
One most common way is that you make a reservation for example at Booking.com with the free cancellation policy and no deposit. After you complete the reservation, you receive the confirmation and everything looks fine. Then you receive an email that looks similar to the official Booking.com email asking you to pay a deposit or full price to secure your reservation.
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a phishing email and the original one, the advice is always to look for official websites email like @booking.com at the end of the email address. Usually, you might see similarities to @reservationbooking.com, @bookings.com or other.
If you are not sure that the email is coming from an official and trusted website like Booking.com, check the policy of your reservation.
Did you book a hotel with a prepayment policy and you should pay 50% of the total amount in advance?
In any case, you can always contact the customer service of the official website to check your reservation.
2. Fake Websites
Living in the online world, there are thousands of fake travel and accommodation websites. It is hard to keep track of each new website and remember all the ‘good ones’.
We can only recommend you to use the ones you know and you booked through them before. This is the only way to know that they are actually legit websites.
3. Too Good to Be True
The classic accommodation scam when the place is just too good to be true.
How to do you know? Easy, imagine amazing Villa in Ibiza with Seaview next to the main beach, pictures look great, everything is new and there is a huge swimming pool. All this for a price of 50 EUR/night. Crazy right?
You know that you would never get this Villa for such a cheap price, so just use your common sense, most probably it is a scam and the pictures are copied from another place. In a case like this, this place probably does not exist at all and if you make a reservation, you will be probably asked to pay more or the full price in advance (as in the first example).
Another Tip is also checking the pictures carefully as most of the time it does not match the architecture and the location. Let’s say, I am from Prague and someone is offering Apartment with Seaview. Right, we don’t have the sea in the Czech Republic so it is really impossible.
4. Fake Reviews
Nowadays, it is difficult to leave fake reviews as most of the official accommodation websites control the reviews very efficiently.
What can still happen that people make various fake email addresses, register at different travel and accommodation websites and leave fake reviews? The reviews usually come from their direct competitors or neighbors.
This is the list of most common accommodation scams according to our travel and work experience.
For sure, you will find other types of travel scams that might happen to you or someone else. Don’t hesitate to contact us so we can update the list and avoid future scams.
Which website is your favorite one for booking accommodation?
Do you any other tips on how to book budget accommodation?
Feel free to share with us your experience and tips, we are happy to learn new things and help others in their search.
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