We haven’t traveled much in the past few years because baby RB40 wasn’t really a great traveler, but now that he’s getting a bit older we can start to travel once again.
We decided that our first big trip would be to drive down to California to visit family and friends, with an overnight stop along the way. Hotels can be a big cost on a trip and you never know how nice the hotel will be. You can stay at the Four Seasons and be sure that your room will be great, but many of us do not have that kind of budget. Alternatively, you can use various travel websites to book a hotel room. I used Priceline regularly when we traveled more and it is still a great way to get a nice hotel room for a good price.
On Priceline, you can place a blind bid on a hotel in a specific area. You can specify the star level of the hotel room, but you can’t see what hotels are available. Fortunately, we have the internet and we can find out beforehand what hotels are available in a particular area. I use the betterbidding.com forum to see what hotels are available in an area and what price people have been paying on those rooms.
For example, as part of our trip down to California, we wanted to stay in the Ashland or Medford area in Oregon to take an overnight break. I checked the forum and I found that someone had bid successfully for a room at the Red Lion Hotel in Medford with $45. Once I knew the Red Lion Hotel could be had for $45 + $8 service fee, I had my bottom line pricing. I then went to Trip Advisor to see what people thought of the hotel. The reviews were mixed. Some people really liked it and some didn’t think much of it. I figured for $53, it’s gotta be better than Motel 6 and took a chance. I tried $40 first with Ashland as the area, but that was unsuccessful so I added Medford and increased the bid to $45 and was successful.
So we got there around 4pm and checked in. The plan was to go up and make sure the room was acceptable first before bringing all our stuff in. If it didn’t meet our standard, we’d request a different room. The room we got was actually pretty nice and overlooked the pool. The weird thing was that there was a duffle bag on the bed. Mrs. RB40 called the front desk and the house keeping came over to pick it up. Of course, an hour later a guy came by and tried to get in our room. Apparently, they checked him into this room before us. Anyway, we were settled in so he left to find his bag. Oops sorry… Other than that I was quite happy with the room.
All in all, it worked out pretty well. We drove to Ashland to hang out and to find an interesting place to eat. Ashland is a lot nicer than Medford and if we were staying a few days instead of just one, I would have sprung for a room there so we can explore more. We’re just passing through so Medford was fine.
How about you? Do you have a strategy to reduce hotel costs? At first I was just going to find a roadside motel, but my friend in Eugene said it might be graduation weekend. So I went back to my old Priceline strategy. This worked quite well for international travel too. I got some nice rooms in Bangkok this way.