Lodging is one of the biggest expenses of travel. Find a way to
save money on that and suddenly a family vacation can become
But how do you know when it's OK to go cheap? Here are a few
times when there's no point in spending a lot on lodging and a
recommendation on how to know it's not too cheap:
1. You won't be there long.
This is best for those long road trips. You just need a
(reasonably) comfortable bed and a shower. If you're traveling with
kids who have been cooped up in car seats for hours, you need one
more thing: a pool. They have to work out the kinks and they
deserve a treat. So don't scrimp so much that there's no pool. Tip:
Always check to be sure the pool is operating and open the hours
you will need it. My kids had meltdowns the time we checked into a
hotel only to find out the pool was closed for repairs.
2. The lower-priced hotels offer lots of
Unlike business-rate hotels that might have nicer lobbies and
higher-thread-count sheets, budget hotels such as Super 8 and
Hampton Inns offer something more important to families on a
budget: free wifi and free breakfast. Kids are hungry when they get
up. They don't necessarily want to wait for breakfast while you
shower, pack, check out and find a restaurant. Take them downstairs
(in the jammies if necessary), let them fill up on cereal or make a
waffle while you suck down that first, all-important cup of
coffee. Then head back to the room to shower, pack and check
out. Tip: If you'll be staying in a hotel for only one night on
your way to your final destination, pack an overnight bag with just
the supplies you need for the night--pajamas, underwear,
toothbrushes, swimsuits, etc. That way you won't have to unpack the
entire trunk each night.
How do you know is the hotel is a good deal or just
I have stayed in Days Inns for $49 a night (including breakfast
and wifi) that were just fine. Ditto for small family-owned motels.
And I once booked an online deal to hotel that was so bad I refused
to sleep there, even though they kept my money.
So how do you know whether a low-cost hotel is going to be a
good deal? If you find a chain hotel you like, stick with it. For
my family, road trips usually mean at least one stay at a Hampton
Inn. They line America's highways and I have yet to have a bad
experience at a Hampton. We also like the Marriott Suites for those
times when we want a little more space.
If you don't have a favorite hotel chain, look at review sites
like TripAdvisor (keeping in mind that the people who had a bad
experience are more likely to write about it). Finally, before you
book, call the local tourism bureau or chamber of commerce. Don't
ask whether a hotel is OK. They won't want to speak ill of a
dues-paying member of the chamber. Instead ask, "If you were
booking a low-cost hotel for your family, which one would you
Cindy Richards is the mom of two, a long-time travel writer
and the editor of TravelingMom.com, a website
for moms who travel with and without their kids.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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