In today’s social media world, choosing a hotel is more challenging than ever. There are ads, reviews and tips from so many sources. Before booking any stay, ask yourself these few key questions to make sure you chose the hotel property that will best suit your needs without blowing your travel budget with hidden costs you hadn’t considered.

photo credit Margalit Francus

Hoel breakfast photo credit Margalit Francus AUTISM TMOM

If you’ve ever had to book a hotel room on a budget, you know how difficult it can be to choose one based solely on the information from a search engine like Kayak or Hotels.com.

Should you go with the one offering the most amenities? The one closest to the attractions? Or the one that offers the cheapest rate? To answer this question, you need to scrutinize carefully and consider some hidden costs that you might incur during your hotel stay.

Distance from the Hotel to Landmarks

The first thing you need to do is calculate how long it will take to get from the hotel to the different attractions you’ll be visiting.
Time equals money, especially on vacations when there is a lot to see. If you are pressed for time, choosing a hotel that is 30 minutes or more away from your chosen sites might end up costing you more than you bargained for. Define what your needs are. How fast can you get up every morning? What kind of transportation will you need to be using each time? These should all be considerations when you make your choice. Ten minutes by public transportation generally takes much longer than ten minutes by cab or hotel shuttle. If you drive, factor in time for finding a parking space, especially if you are traveling into an urban area.

Another question to consider is whether your kids will need to take a mid-day break and rest from the day’s bustle? Is there a possibility of hopping over and resting in the room for? The closer the property, the easier it would be to get your kids to that mid-day nap and the fewer supplies you will end up carrying around for the day.

Surrounding Areas

Some travelers discount the importance of staying in a safe neighborhood, but you should do your homework and research the hotel vicinity carefully before you book anything. If the area around your hotel is sketchy, then you will spend money and time getting out of the area to get to food venues and stores, and that can become a real pain. Not to mention the possibility of getting attacked, mugged or worse.

photo credit Margalit Francus

Hotel Lobby photo credit Margalit Francus Autism Tmom

Types of Transportation Available

Determine what types of public transit are available where you will be staying, as well as the length of the ride and the hours and frequency of operation. Look into discounts for seniors, families, students, kids or persons with disability or if you can buy a daily or weekly pass.

If your only option is to use cabs, you need to know if there is there an additional fee per person on top of the flat rate. In some cities, cabs can only seat three passengers, so if your family is larger, you might need to add the expense of an extra car.

Many times the distance of the hotel from the airport can also add quite a bit to your bill, and become a deterrent especially when your only choice is a cab.

If you intend on using your car or are renting one you need to calculate not only gas prices, but hotel parking fees which might add up to one scary bill.  When you add up the costs make sure you calculate not only the nightly parking fee of the hotel you are staying at but the various spots you will have to pay to park the vehicle during the day.

Hotel Amenities

It is important to examine the free amenities your hotel offers since they too can translate into dollars and cents.

The question you should ask yourself is whether a pool or spectacular view is more important to you than amenities that can cut your travel expenses like access to the executive lounge, free wifi, and free parking.

Access to the executive lounge can equal hundreds of dollars when you factor in the free breakfast, free snacks/drinks and sometimes even free dinner. That’s especially when you are traveling with kids.

Also, free water bottles and packed snacks or cookies to take on day trips helps lower the expenses. Parking fees and WiFi charges can add up substantially especially in the bigger cities where parking spots are at a premium.

photo credit Margalt Francus

hotel room photo credit Margalit Francus autism tmom

Resort Fees

The resort fee is not a hidden cost, but it can be as much as 20 percent of your bill. Best advice is to read the fine print before you book a room at any resort especially overseas. If you aren’t clear about the final price of your room, ask before you stay so you can know the correct price and avoid unnecessary surprises.

HOTEL POOL

Hotel Pool Photo credit Margalit Francus AutismTMOM

Have you encountered any hidden costs in hotels that you stayed in? What tips would you add to this list?