Cutting Costs When Staying in Other Countries
BY Tom Parsons
Most consolidators and hotel discount directories cover international as well as domestic locations. You may want to collect several directories to optimize your range of choices.
Most well-known international hotel chains offer standard discounts and special promotions similar to those offered domestically. U.S.-based budget chains with a significant international presence include Budgetel, Choice, Courtyard by Marriott, Econo Lodge, Hojo Inns, Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta, Motel 6, Red Roof Inns, Super 8, and Travelodge.
Some hotel chains have a distinctly different presence in other countries as compared to the U.S. Holiday Inn, for example, seems particularly appealing in Europe. Its weekend, breakfast-included rates (available during most of the travel year) are exceptional.
Prepaid voucher programs are prevalent but don't always provide maximum value. If you buy them at standard rate, you have purchased rack rate, international style. A guaranteed rate will lock in your price without necessarily requiring that you pay for your entire stay in advance.
Stay away from city centers. For business travelers, even a small shift in location can save big bucks. For leisure travelers, use rail and public transport options to link you to the city and to enable you to enjoy the charm and discounts of smaller towns and outlying areas.
Use tourist information centers. Ibis Europe marks down open inventory each evening and offers it to travelers age 26 and under. Many city tourist offices will list similar deals. Tourist offices tend to be located in airports, train stations, and in city centers.
Never judge international hotels by their lobbies. Ask to see a room. Often, you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's common for hotels in other countries to focus their money on room amenities rather than on first impressions.
If you enjoyed your prior night's lodging, ask the hotel manager to recommend a place in the next town you're visiting.
Beat high rates in expensive lodging areas by checking little-known sources and being flexible in the type of accommodations you will accept. If you are using a request-by-mail source, be sure to request information well in advance of your travel dates.
Affordable International Accommodations
Best Western's Travel Guide and Road Atlas offers budget options in the Americas (the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America, North America, and South America), Europe (including Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean) and Australia/New Zealand. Request the free guide(s) of your choice by calling 800-528-1234.
Save in Austria with the Salzburg Plus Card, a debit card covering hotels, meals, city transportation, attractions, and a cultural event. Various versions of the card are available for stays of two or more nights in three- to five-star hotels. You can customize a package that fits your needs and your budget. Call 212-229-1768.
Climat de France, 800-332-5332, costs $50 ($20 for seniors) and allows you to access 10% to 30% discounts at hotels in several price categories. The card can be purchased in France from tourism offices.
The Italian Government Travel Office will help you locate information on inexpensive lodging throughout Italy. Write to the Italian Government Travel Office, 12400 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 5500, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
Inexpensive rooms in Japan are offered by the Welcome Inn Reservation Center. It offers 500 hotels, pensions, and inns with maximum prices of $80 per night. The fax number (in Tokyo) is 33211-9009. The Japan National Tourist Office offers rooms for two at about $124 per night, including two meals. Call 212-757-5641. Fax 212-307-6754.
Explore discount options in New Zealand with Where to Stay, a free 720-page guide with information on one- to five-star lodging options. Call the New Zealand Tourism Board at 800-388-5494.
Economy lodging in the United Kingdom is available at Granada Inns and Little Chief Lodges. They're located along major motorways and are similar to the Motel 6 chain. Central London Accommodations, 44-171-602-9668, has nightly offerings for as little as $22.
Formule 1 Hotels offer budget lodging in France, Australia, Belgium, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland. Write for a Formule 1 and ETAP directory; Formule 1 Hotels, 31 Rue du Colonel-Pierre-Avia, 75904 Paris Cedex 15, France.
Bestfares.com is designed to save travelers time and money. The one-stop travel resource site tracks the latest specials, posting hundreds of deals every day. It covers domestic and international airfares, frequent flyer bonuses, business travel, vacation packages, cruise travel, lodging, car rentals, rail travel, and more. Most deals are available to the general public. Specially negotiated discounts exclusive to Bestfares.com members offer savings of as much as 70%.