Road Trip 101: Ten Tips to Save Money on Accommodations

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

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.

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Want to save money on accommodations, on your road trip? We've got ten great tips, right here.

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,,, and coupon sites like groupon or living social. 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! Join hotel clubs for special rates and perks.

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. We love our national and state parks - the park rangers often are a wealth of information, so you can learn so much more about where you're traveling. Your kids can also work on their junior ranger badges. And then there's always glamping...

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 many places, including ChicagoIreland, and Scotland. It is a fantastic way to save money - you'll have your own kitchen, possible backyard, space. Search for 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, so your entertainment costs are built in. 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. One time in Scotland, we even found a tower at a castle (!!). Do your due diligence - read reviews, double check the listing on google, and get certified yourself.

10. Schedule your travels 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 on a road trip?