This guide will explain exactly how to find cheap accommodation on a road trip. It includes tips and tricks that I’ve learned from over a decade of traveling and numerous lengthy road trips all over the world. I’ve road tripped around over 30 countries in Europe alone, so I know a thing or two about finding cheap places to stay.
If you’re planning a road trip, this post is a must-read to ensure you get the best price on your road trip accommodation. Let’s jump into my top twelve tips. I’ll expand on each point and provide links to valuable road trip resources.
Affiliate Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please see our advertising disclosure for more details.
My Favorite Booking Platforms
I use Booking.com for hotels, apartments, and homestays. Sometimes hostels are cheaper too.
I use Hostelworld for dorm beds or private rooms within hostels. Always check reviews.
How To Find Cheap Accommodation On A Road Trip
- Be flexible with dates: If your travel dates are flexible, consider staying during off-peak times or weekdays, when accommodation prices are generally lower.
- Plan ahead: Research your route and make a list of possible accommodations in advance. This allows you to compare prices, read reviews, and book early to secure better rates.
- Always check multiple booking sites after deciding on accommodation. Fees can vary across platforms creating a price difference. I usually use Booking.com but If I’m staying in a hostel I also check Hostelworld. Platforms often have special offers, discounts, and last-minute deals.
- Factor in parking costs: When evaluating accommodation options, consider the cost of parking. Some properties may offer free or discounted parking, while others might charge a fee. Take this into consideration when creating a road trip budget and comparing accommodation choices. Check out our post on finding cheap car parking.
- Explore options outside the city: Since you have a car, take advantage of the flexibility it provides and consider staying in accommodations located outside of city centers. These places are often less expensive and can provide a more relaxed atmosphere, while still being within easy driving distance of major attractions.
- Consider alternative accommodations: Look for non-traditional lodging options such as hostels, guesthouses, motels, or campgrounds, which are often more affordable than hotels. I’ve used Couchsurfing in the past but make sure you take precautions and do your own research before considering this.
- Leverage loyalty programs and memberships: Sign up for hotel and booking site loyalty programs or use existing memberships (e.g., AAA, AARP) to get discounts on accommodations.
- Negotiate directly with the property: Contact the property directly to inquire about special rates or discounts. They may offer a better deal than what’s listed on booking websites.
- Utilize social media and online forums: Join travel-related Facebook groups, Reddit threads, or other online forums where travelers share tips on finding affordable accommodations.
- Travel with friends or family: Sharing accommodations with a group can help you save on costs by splitting expenses.
- Be open to last-minute deals: Some hotels and lodging properties offer discounted rates for last-minute bookings in order to fill empty rooms. Keep an eye out for these deals, but remember that they might not be available for all destinations or during peak travel seasons.
- Sleep in your car as a last resort: If you’re unable to find affordable accommodation, you can consider sleeping in your car as a last resort. It’s important to ensure you research safe places to sleep in your car before considering this option, such as well-lit rest areas, truck stops, or designated overnight parking areas. Be aware of local laws and regulations regarding overnight parking and sleeping in vehicles, as these can vary between jurisdictions. Our article may be able to help: Is it illegal to sleep in your car? It’s also important to thoroughly research safety considerations when sleeping in your car.