Finding my initial love of travel in High School and College left me with minimal funds to actually take trips and include things like food and lodging. I've done everything from hostels to 5-star resorts, and there's usually an easy way to to find the happy medium.
We'll call these posts Luxury on a Budget, or LOAB, as ways to keep your cost down without really missing out on anything. Obviously there are tons of sites like Hotels.com and Travelocity, but these are my tips for thinking outside the box and also for getting a better deal!
Some of my favorite ways to save money without sacrificing quality in the lodging department are:
1- How To Travel Like Royalty: Jetsetter.com
Jetsetter is my favorite way to pretend like I'm royalty. They only offer 5-star resorts, and the prices are typically more than 50% off. Unlike other discount programs like Groupon Getaway and Living Social Escapes, these are gorgeous places with nothing wrong with them. A lot of them are boutique hotel lines opening a new location or featured during their off season. My best deal on Jetsetter was paying $130/night for a Mexican resort usually going for $450-550/night. Other good deals are fancy NYC hotels for under $200 and getaways in the Bahamas.
To sign up for Jetsetter go here to sign up to get their weekly emails. Trust me, it will make you want to book your next trip to anywhere.
2 - How To Travel Like a Local: AirBNB.com
What started as a way to organize places for people to stay for a conference, Air Bed & Breakfast was born. Now AirBNB allows homeowners to post their place online, you can choose your level of bunking-up; you can rent a room, a shared house, or private lodging. I've used AirBNB all over the country in large cities, and it always ends up saving hundreds of dollars a night. For example, hotels in downtown Seattle were going for around $300/night. We rented a 2 bed/2 bath condo with a balcony and view, 4 blocks from Pike's Place Market, for less than $150/night. Not to mention we had access to a full kitchen, and were communicating with our 'host' for his recommendations on food, coffee, and drinks. Be sure to read the reviews, and message the host ahead of time with any questions about location, accessibility/public transportation, etc. When available, AirBNB is my favorite way to stay.
3 - How To Travel With Monopoly Money: Credit Card Points
Some of the best things in life are free. While yes, you do earn the miles by spending money, we use it as our daily debit card (gas, groceries, etc) so we literally earn points for everything we do. It's paid off at the end of every month, so we only spend within our budget (we use Mint.com to track our spending).
We love our FlexPerks card through US Bank, because flights and hotels start at 20k points and there are NO blackout dates. Unlike the American miles we've been trying to use for years, our FlexPerks points are pure gold. We recently booked a 3 day trip to New York City on Delta and stayed at a Conrad Hotel in TriBeCa, for less than 80k points for 2 people. Fantastic deals!
4 - How To Get the Most For Your Money: Oyster.com
Oyster is the best way to see what you're actually booking, because they have real pictures, not just the 10 stock photos the hotel provides. They also have a comprehensive list of what is included and what costs extra (so you don't have to scour the entire website trying to figure out what they'll charge you for!). It's my best guide for scoping our hotels.
These are just a few resources for booking a place to stay on your next trip.