Sure, you know how to book a hotel on your own because you’ve got a credit card and the Internet. But chances are you’re not booking a hotel as well or as cheaply as you could. Don’t feel bad about your amateur mistakes. All you need is a little instruction, and, well, a credit card and the Internet. To turn you from hotel amateur to hotel pro, we’ve probed the minds of lodging experts to hear their tips on saving the most money and maximizing every hotel stay you book. These are their essential hotel hacks.
One aspect of business travel that we’ve all just learned to live with is managing spending. You pay for food and other expenses, save your receipts—usually in a messy pile—then fill in a painful expense report at some time in the six months after your trip, when you’ve forgotten what all that spending was for. If you used a company card, you have to hope you made no mistakes. If you used your own money, you’re hoping the company reimburses the whole lot.
Outsource your airfare benchmarking by signing up for alerts that deliver the best current flight deals to your inbox. Customize your route and dates, and you'll be able to keep tabs on price drops and quickly find out when prices are on the rise. Both Kayak and FareCompare offer notifications for specific city combinations and dates. Another handy fare-alert option comes from our sister site, Airfarewatchdog.
Traveling in places where you don’t speak the language is surprisingly easy, but get ready to mime a lot. You can mime eating to ask someone if they’re serving food, mime sleeping to ask someone if there are any beds available in the hostel, and I even mimed that I needed to go to a train station by saying, “choo choo!” and drawing a picture of a train in my notepad for a taxi driver in Taiwan!
If you arrive at your destination stress-free but some of your clothes aren't as lucky, try this trick: Hang the item in the bathroom while you take a shower and let the steam work out the wrinkles. If that doesn't work, try Brown's secret weapon—a spray-on de-wrinkler. Brown swears by Downy Wrinkle Release, which is often sold at newsstand stores inside the airport.
One of my favorite tips for business travel is to get a serviced apartment, especially if the business trip is longer than a couple of weeks. What I like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that I am significantly more comfortable. A good apartment comes with all the amenities such as a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a cozy couch and a tv, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine and a drier.
There’s a good chance you won’t get “walked” yourself (hotels don’t want to offend a guest whose company regularly sends business their way), but here are a few tips to avoid the situation anyhow: First, if your itinerary allows, stay at the hotel for more than one night since those who will be there for less than 24 hours are more likely to be turned away.
19. To check a bag or not to check bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees. And, if you are connecting during your trip, know the luggage rules/fees for those airlines as well -- especially for regional or low-cost carriers.
Work-Around: If you unexpectedly decide to rent a car in Europe, use your laptop, notebook, tablet, or smartphone to book your rental through a U.S. website. Just make sure you reach a U.S. website; often, when you go online overseas, the default site that appears is the local version of a company's website. If access to a U.S. site seems blocked, try a Canadian site.
Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi, or a dog-eared travel guide, download it before your trip. Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday. And don’t count on wi-fi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair. Make sure it’s on a water-resistent covered device (check out Otterbox for some serious protection for your cherished e-reader, phone or tablet).