Road Trip 101: Ten Tips to Save Money on Accommodations

Ed Forteau's picture

Road Trip 101: Ten Tips to Save Money on Accommodations

Road trips are awesome - and can be costly! We've written on the Top 10 Ways to Save Money on the Road. Now, I'd like to share tips to save money on accommodations while traveling.

1. Discounts and Coupons. Hit the very first rest area when you enter a state. There will usually be lots of racks of coupons and information. As well, they will often have hotel coupon books that cover the whole state. We've saved 70% on hotel rooms, using those coupons. You'll also find coupons for attractions, restaurants, and more. It's information central!


hotel coupons at rest areas

hotel coupons at rest areas



2. Do Your Research on hotels. Compare. Explore online - using,, We love Darn Good Digs for budget accommodations. Once you find a deal you can live with, head to the hotel's site, and call to see if they can beat the published deal. You could save a bundle!


3. Hostels. While this may remind you of backpacking in Europe, there are plenty of hostels that have private rooms. If you're traveling as a family, this could be your best option. Check out,, Be sure to read the reviews.


4. Camping. This can be reasonably priced, and has the added bonus of being in the outdoors. Don't have a tent or camper? Some campgrounds have cabins, yurts, and more. Check out the Moabi Regional Park on the Colorado River - looks like fun!


Moabi Regional Park on the Colorado River

Moabi Regional Park on the Colorado River


5. Rent a house or apartment.  We've done this in Chicago, and in Ireland and Scotland. It is a fantastic way to save money - you'll have your own kitchen, backyard, space. Look at Homeaway Holiday Rentals, or google vacation home rentals. Be sure to research the neighborhood before you book.


Chicago apartment rental

Our Chicago rental apartment - with a view!



6. Check out Waterpark resorts. It might seem expensive, but you'll be paying for a hotel AND a waterpark. It's so much fun, and your family will thank you. Waterslides, lazy river, hot tub, all kinds of water play = perfect remedy for long days in the car.  We love Great Wolf Lodge, Key Lime Cove, and Kalahari Waterpark resorts.


Great Wolf Lodge


7. B&B it. You’ll get a lot of bang for your vacation dollar too since homemade multi-course breakfasts, afternoon refreshments and evening innkeepers' receptions at many inns are part of the deal. The extras can add up to more than $100 in value over the course of your stay. Add in fee-free wi-fi, parking, bottled water, DVDs and movies, and much more, and savings add up.


8. Couchsurfing - it's a way to stay somewhere for free, in someone's home.  Our friend and Photography Editor Sherry Ott from Ottsworld shared her experiences with Couchsurfing. Donna Hull from My Itchy Travel Feet has a great article that includes couchsurfing and other options.


9. Rent a room. Check out, or craigslist. You might find a room for rent, or a small back cottage.  Do your due diligence - read reviews, double check the listing on google.


10. Pick your travel dates wisely. For some, it's all about traveling in the shoulder season- when prices are lower! It could also be about traveling January 1-10, instead of over the Christmas holidays. Yes, traveling to New York City for Christmas could be lovely - and it could be much less, just a few weeks later. 


What are your Tips to Save Money on Accommodations?