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How To Book A Great Room & Save Money Doing It

The question travellers ask themselves, before they book a room, probably sounds a lot like this:

Do I book the cheapest hostel I can find, probably located in a dodgy area, with a faulty hot water system, and bed bugs- or do I splash out to help curb the general risks?”

Many of you may decide to take the risks that come with booking the cheapest place -
you will only be spending a small amount of time in the room, and the cost saving benefits will enable you to spend more on other things.
After all, there is no guarantee that spending more money will mitigate the risks -
and you may even get lucky opting for the cheaper choice- right?
Well, there is a better way and I am going to show you how to book a room cheaply and have you actually enjoy your stay.  But what exactly is the best process for sifting through reviews and seeing what’s available?

Below I will list a step-by-step guide to booking great accommodation.

Many booking sites will often list popular places as full or limited or may even jack up the price after seeing you search through properties over a certain period of time. This is an attempt to get you to panic buy/book, to make you think you only have a small window of time to get the place that you want, at the price you want. This tactic is rarely ever true and a great way to ensure that your price won’t go up is to do the following:

⦁ Go incognito, most of you will know how to do this, but I’ll show you how anyway. To go incognito simply hit Ctrl + Shift + N or open your browser customization menu and open a new incognito window. Once you have gone incognito it will look like this.  


Our Top 5
Accommodation Sites

Otherwise, Open Chrome - open [customize and control menu] underneath your [close browser] in the top right-hand corner– open [settings] and scroll down to open [show advanced settings] - under [privacy] hit [clear browsing data] – in the scroll down box set it to [last 4 weeks] and make sure only [cookies, other site plugin data] box is checked – hit the [clear browsing data] button
There are many great resources for finding accommodation on the web. But there are a few favorites that should enable you to get everything you need. Having these tabs (listed below) open at the same time will help you to compare accommodation types, prices, reviews and sites.

Once you have each tab open, (Agoda,, AirBnB and Tripadvisor) enter your estimated arrival and departure dates, the city/place you are visiting, how many rooms you will need and how many people are staying.
- I prefer over Agoda as it lists the price including tax, and calculates it as a total cost rather than per person/per night. Best of all usually offers free cancellation and you pay-when-you-stay, which I find to be flexible and convenient (make sure you sign up to become Genius. member).
- Agoda does share similar features, but it runs a little differently, so it comes down to what you personally prefer.
- I like to use AirBnB as a flex if I need to find alternative accommodation.
- Trip Advisor is the best all round engine; it has a strong community which means you can sort through plenty of reviews, photographs and recommendations. Trip Advisor also compares prices from multiple travel sites and enables you to sort accommodation by type.

It’s also a good idea to keep a free tab open – use this free tab to research (for example: checking a location on Google maps). Also where possible always try to book in local currency.

Now this is the most important part of the process as it enables you to get what you want/need at the price you want. However, if what you want is the executive suite at the Marriott for $80 a night –then you’ll have to go to Medan for that…

Set realistic needs for your comforts, and budget accordingly. Even better is to set a budget that you are willing to spend per night and search for something that meets what you want/need, or comes very close to accommodating that.

To explain this process I am going to use an example:

I am going to make my travel dates from the 24th-28th of May. In this scenario, I am looking for accommodation in Chiang Mai, Thailand; which will be a 4 night stay during my trip through south-east Asia. I am half way through my adventure in the region and so far on my travels, I have managed to keep a budget of $15-20USD per night for 2 people (travelling as a couple). I would like to keep my costs in Chiang Mai in that price range. I have a little wiggle room to spend more, but I want visit the Elephant sanctuary for a day whilst I am there, so keeping costs low will help me save for that.
Things to note in this scenario- bed bugs and roaches freak me out, so it would be great to find a place where they weren't a concern, and I would prefer to stay in a place with a lively, comfortable and authentic atmosphere if possible.
I am not asking for much, but finding somewhere that meets all these needs, and ensuring when I arrive that I get them, is more difficult than one might think. After all, you are making a calculated prediction.
First off, I have opened up my tab. Once I have it open, I enter my details into the search criteria.
*Note that I am searching from the 24th-25th, as I want to see a cost per night, rather than the cost for the whole stay.

This is the page that comes up:
Using filters, I am going to try and find what I need. Underneath the yellow search box, there is a filter for price per night. My budget is $15-20 per night, so I check the $0 - $76 box.

Now that I have selected that filter option, I am going to change [our top recommendations] on the top toolbar, to [review score], and use the drop down menu to select [all reviewers].
(Ignore the bright red [In high demand] texts.
Even though you are in incognito mode, they will still appear, and they are not totally accurate, so feel free to search for as long as you need).

Now that we have the criteria we need, we are going to scroll down for something in our budget. Follow well-reviewed places carefully, a 5 star reviewed place with 150 reviews is usually more accurate than a 5 star reviewed place with only 10 reviews. 

If you are a couple wanting a private room, make sure you select [show me private rooms only].

If the search (after 3 pages or so) isn't returning places in your budget, using [review score], select the [lowest price] box instead.

So I have found a place that looks, not so much lively, but authentic, comfortable and private. It has a 7.2 rating on and is in my $15-20 price range. It looks upmarket and better value for money than the other places I have seen in the same price range. So let’s check it out on Trip Advisor –
It is rated 4 stars on trip advisor! Let’s read the reviews-

-Make sure you read the good, the average and the bad reviews, to get an unbiased picture.
-Have a look on trip advisor at traveller’s photographs of the place you are interested in - it gives you a much more accurate representation of what the room and the premises look like.

Make sure [reviews] is selected on the top tool bar, and that [all reviews] is selected in the middle tool bar.
The Trip Advisor rating system is as follows:
[very good]
Search through and read all the different types of reviews. It is important to do this, as maybe the place changed management in the last few months and people are unhappy with how it has turned out - for example.

So in my scenario, I have seen mostly positive reviews, but, apparently the place has had some problems with roaches recently, due to construction next door. Construction is going to make for a noisy stay, and because I’m not all that fond of roaches, I think I’ll start looking at another place.

This time I am going to create a search using Trip Advisor. Once I have filled in my travel criteria, I can refine my search.  
Above is an example page that will come up. You will notice under [price finder] that there is an accommodation drop down menu that sorts accommodation by type.
Trip Advisor lists the following types of accommodation:
[B&B and Inns]
[Specialty Lodging]
[Vaction Rentals]
[Hotels with special offers]
This by "type" feature is one of my favorite filters, as I may not be able to afford to stay at the #1 rated hotel in Chiang Mai, but I may be able to afford the number #1 ranked B&B or Inn. Neat!

To begin, choose your accommodation type and then sort by [ranking] on the top toolbar. Lastly, set a price range using the [price per night] slider.

As you search through you will notice listings have deals/prices offered by various booking companies. You can click on each link, to visit the page, and from there you can book the accommodation you need.

Occasionally, a high ranked/reviewed listing will not have prices or links shown on Trip Advisor. As is the case for my Chiang Mai accommodation that I am now interested in, see below:

This place has more than 700 reviews, more than 600 of them being excellent and none of them ranked poor or terrible. Nice! It also won a Trip Advisor 2016 travellers choice award and is ranked #4 out 583 B&B and Inns in Chiang Mai. If this place is in my budget, i'll be set.

Using Google search, I search the name of the accommodation to find out where I can book online.
It turns out, I have to book via email on their website. The rates for 2016 are listed in Thai Baht. A standard double room with fan is $390THB, around $10USD. It offers free cancellation, pay-when-you-stay and the room I want is available.
Success!! I have found an authentic room, in a high rated place, in my price range, in a great area and with good reviews. 

I go ahead and book.

Using this scenario, finding the right place took some time to find, but I am very happy with the place that I have found, and feel confident that my stay there will be enjoyable. Use this method to enure you get what you want.

Happy Adventures!