Trip Planning Guide – How to know what hotels to book no matter where you go!

Planning a trip somewhere?  How do you know where to book the hotel?  International cities are even more difficult.  The two videos below will show you how to book these hotels, whether you go to a city in the US, or any international city around the world.  Each video is short but will show you the basic foundation to start planning your trip.

When we travel, we are typically on a budget and will choose the cheapest hotel, but is still clean, in a safe location, and overall good quality. Now, you don’t want to just look for any cheap hotels, as that could be a disaster.  You want to find hotels that are GOOD in terms of reviews, and CHEAP at the same time.  So the key is to get the cheapest “good” hotel.  A good hotel means it is clean and located in an area that is relatively safe.

How do you find such hotel?  For my example, we will use Hotels.com as the booking engine.  The same concept can be applied to any other hotel booking engine that you are familiar with, such as Booking.com or Orbitz.

Video Tutorials

These short videos will teach you techniques that you can apply to almost any trip in the future!

US Domestic Trip – Booking the “Best” Budget Hotels (12 Minutes)

International Trip Planning and Hotel Booking Guide (15 minutes)

US Domestic Trip – Booking the “Best” Budget Hotels Guide

The information here is the same as the video above, in case you cannot watch it.

First, go to http://www.hotels.com and start your search.  Put in the city you are looking to stay, the dates, and the number of rooms you are looking for. Then click Search.

Hotel1

You will see the results displayed.  The key on this page, is to use the Filters that are available in order to only display the “good” hotels, and sorted by the lowest price.

The areas I have highlighted are what you need to click on.

  1. On the right side under “Price”, sort it by “Lowest to Highest”.
  2. On the left side, click on the number of Stars you want the hotel to have.  For budget hotels, I typically click on 2 and 3 stars.  You don’t want 1 star as quality might not be as good. If you want something nicer, you can display 4/5 stars appropriately (but prices will be higher)
  3. Under “Guest Rating”, drag the slider on the left and narrow it down to 3.5 to 5.0 score.  This will narrow the hotels down and only display the ones that have overall good reviews.  Hotels with score 3 or below, might have issues such as bed bugs, or dirty rooms.  A score of 3.5 or higher will typically ensure that the room quality is at least decent, without bed bugs.  You can also filter it to a 4 or higher if you’d like, but room prices will be higher.  I found that 3.5 or higher is a good mix between room quality and price.

Hotel2

The search results will automatically update to only display the hotels with our new preferences, displayed from lowest to highest price.  You can be comfortable that the hotels listed now, are for the most part decent enough to book with.

Look at the overall score, and the number of reviews.  You want to choose the highest score, with a lot of reviews, with the price you are comfortable with.

In the picture below, Anaheim Lodge has a score of 3.7/5 based on 40 reviews.  Lynwood Travelodge has a score of 3.6/5 with 248 reviews.  Now if both prices were the same, I would pick Lynwood, as even though the score is slightly lower, it has more reviews so the score is more reliable.

Hotel3

Having said that, in this case, Lynwood has a higher price.  So I might not pick it due to the higher price.

Another note, you want to look for price that has the “free cancellation” right under it.  A price listed without that, usually means the price they are showing, is the non-refundable price.  You want to book with a hotel that has “free cancellation” in case you change your mind.

Lastly, you want to know the actual location of the hotel.  You can find out by click on the hotel name to see its page, then look at the map or address.

Another way to see all the hotels and where they are located, is by using the “map view”, shown below.

Hotel4

In map view, the filters selected earlier will still apply, so it should only show hotels that meets our criteria.  However, it also shows hotel that are not available, so have to click on the Blue arrow on the right side to expand the “Key” options.  Un-check the box labeled “Doesn’t match your criteria” and “Unavailable for these dates” to clear off those hotels that we don’t care about.

Hotel5

You can move the map around to look for hotels in specific locations.  The filters we chose earlier to narrow down the hotels will still apply, making it an easy way to book!

Once you have decided on the hotel, make sure you read the cancellation policy carefully so you can cancel it in case you need to.  Also check to see if the hotel has free wifi or breakfast.

And there you have it, a simple way to find cheap “good” hotels.  I will expand more in this section at a later date for more expert tips.

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