Booking Accommodation

If you feel inspired by anything you’ve read on our site and fancy booking a holiday for yourselves, here are our top tips on booking accommodation!

Affiliate links are used on this page. We only use these for products and websites that we regularly use and would genuinely recommend for our readers. Buying through these links comes at no extra cost to you.

1. Location research

This may seem a bit obvious but it’s the best place to start. Before going to any new country, we use the save feature on Google maps to bookmark specific attractions/highlights we want to see. This then helps us locate the best area for our stay. E.g. If there’s a high concentration of pins to the west of a city, try and stay west.

The second most important thing for us is public transport. Staying near to a train station or bus stop with good links makes getting around much quicker and cheaper (so we don’t have to use Uber!).

Don’t forget to check the accommodation’s proximity to the airport and if they have shuttles or public transport links.

2. Look for discounts, sign up bonuses and cashback

So now you know where you want to stay, on to which sites to use.

There are heaps of travel companies out there, especially price comparison sites. Look out for those offering incentives and discounts for you to sign up and book through them.

Sign up bonus

Airbnb has a great first user incentive and allows you to pass on the savings to a pal. If you sign up to Airbnb through this link you will receive up to £25 off your first home booking (and £9 towards an experience!). T&cs here.

Referral schemes

Referral schemes are a great bonus on booking sites. These usually activate after you’ve used your chosen site a few times then you can share the love and get a nifty little bonus yourself. The one we use the most is through booking.com and we tend to dish out our referral codes like candy! Note: with booking.com you can only give away ten discount codes (earning you £150, or equivalent in your home country).

Cashback

Another easy way to save money during the booking process is to use cashback websites like Quidco (UK) and TopCashback (have more international sites). We’ve used Quidco heaps, especially when booking flights, accommodation and travel insurance. It’s not uncommon to see cashback rates around 10% or higher. They’ve made the whole process so easy.

  1. Sign up through this link for a £10 cashback bonus*,
  2. Search their extensive database for the company you are making the purchase through or for the best cashback rate,
  3. Choose the company that’s right for you and click the link through Quidco
  4. Complete you booking as normal and Quidco does the rest!

*You will receive a £10 cashback bonus when you complete your first purchase in their travel category. Sign up through this link. That’s a £10 bonus on top of any cashback you earn.

Some of the big names in Quidco’s travel category include:

  • Booking.com
  • Hotels.com
  • Expedia
  • TUI
  • Lastminute.com
  • Icelolly
  • Easyjet Holidays
  • Jet2 Holidays
  • Secret Escapes
  • STA Travel
  • Virgin Holidays
  • Loads more!

If you’re booking a holiday, this is the easiest way to get some money back!

3. Loyalty programmes

Loyalty programmes are a great way for businesses to get return customers and a great way for the customers to save some money! We can personally vouch for the booking.com genius loyalty scheme and the hotels.com scheme, buy 10 nights receive one night free.

Booking.com genius scheme activates after five bookings, you are then a ‘genius’ member for life. Genius members can benefit from exclusive 10% off deals, late check-outs and other offers.

Hotels.com loyalty scheme is also great. 10 nights quickly adds up and you can bank your one night free for use anytime! The value of your free night is the average price of the 10 previously booked nights. Pretty good.

4. Shop around and use comparisons

We are generally very loyal people. Once we have found a site we like, we use it all the time. Recently, to our shock, we found our favourite comparison site didn’t offer us the cheapest price! How many years could we have saved some money shopping around? Who knows. Learn from our mistakes and shop around.

As well as there being other sites offering accommodation cheaper, sometimes sites don’t show all the options. For example, when you’re scrolling on booking.com, don’t forget to check Trivago and TripAdvisor!

5. Check reviews and use filters

This is a no brainer. Reviews and photos from actual travellers paint the real life picture instead of clever angles and filters used in marketing materials. Always aim for somewhere with loads of reviews. We would much rather stay somewhere with an 8.5/10 by 2000 reviewers than 10/10 by 5 reviewers.

Make the most of the filters offered on sites. This can save so much time and stops you scrolling through hundreds of places that don’t match your criteria. Filter the review score too if possible!

6. Book well in advance, or last minute

If you’re looking at going in that location’s high season, it’s going to be worth booking well in advance. We’ve been stuck before when booking accommodation for Lisbon at the end of August. All of the nicer, cheaper options had sold out. Expensive holiday that one.

On the other hand, if you’re booking in low season, you could risk it for some last minute deals!

7. Check what currency you’re paying in

When you’ve spent the day researching holidays and you’re getting a bit tired, it’s easy to make mistakes. One mistake we like to make is not realising the company we’re booking through is charging in the hotel’s currency.

This is where a travel card like Revolut comes in handy. You can read our post about them here and check out their pricing options here (standard is free!). Using them for all international payments will save you heaps. Not only do they use interbank exchange rates (meaning they’re better than a bank will offer you) they also have no fees on spending. We recently booked flights and accidentally used our bank card resulting in $22.79 in foreign transaction fees and a worse exchange rate. D’oh!

8. Check package deals

Bundle it together and see if you can save. More and more websites are now offering flights, car hire, travel insurance, the list goes on and on. Depending on what you want, it’s sometimes worth checking out the package deals. We personally like doing it all ourselves and shopping around to see where we can get the best deal and beat the bundles.

9. Clear your cookies or use incognito

Pretty simple, don’t let the sites track your searches and hike the prices. We’re not 100% if this is still relevant, but what’s the harm in doing it anyway?

10. Hotels aren’t the only option!

We’ve used a combination of hotels, Airbnbs, hostels, homestays, campgrounds and house sits for our travels around Europe, Asia and Australia. We love a bargain so sometimes a combination is the best way to go. A lot of big-name hotel brands are also branching out into the hostel market as well now.

If you’re interested in house sitting you can read our posts on the pros/cons (the only pro you need is looking after all the doggos), the financial savings that come with house sitting and download our free PDF guide. It has everything you need to get started.

Download your FREE guide here

For campgrounds in Oz and NZ, WikiCamps or CamperMate were our go-to apps. They saved us so much money through their handy filters and comments/prices sections. Make sure you leave your own comments to help other campers and also help business for your fave sites. You can read more about what apps we recommend when road tripping here.

So that’s it. We’ll wait here while you book your next trip.

Something else you may enjoy reading:

Take a look at our Cheap Travel Tips for more general money-saving ideas and advice to save you some money when travelling around!

*** Never leave for a holiday without travel insurance! ***

We all think it’s common sense to not fall from your hang glider or go swimming with sharks, but unfortunately accidents happen and it’s best to be prepared. Since we discovered Alpha Travel Insurance a few years back, we haven’t shopped elsewhere. Their activity packs make it easy to add on what you actually need and their flexible excess options are fantastic. Check them out.

Booking.com