This post is sponsored by TownePlace Suites by Marriott. All opinions are my own.
As military spouses, is there ever a time we don’t think about the budget? It’s exacerbated when it comes to PCSing– keeping track of receipts, buying all of the condiments you couldn’t bring along, misplacing a box that has the kitchen mixer. There are so many things that cost money when it comes to moving and setting up a house… not to mention the restaurant and hotel bills that seem to add up overnight.
While getting a hotel room until your home is ready to move into isn’t a negotiable, it is possible to cut back on costs through some fancy PCSing footwork.
Use Those Golden Fingers
Ah, a Google search. It’s the quickest way to find out so much. Use Google Maps to comparison shop between hotels– you can see exactly where they are and how far from base (or another point of interest) they lie. Also make sure to spend some time doing a preliminary search for discounts and specials offered by the hotels you’re interested in.
Ask for a Discount
The easiest way to get a discount is to ask for one, yet most people feel squeamish about it. My take? Discounts are actually a marketing tool from businesses. They want you to be loyal. They want you to tell others in your discount group that they have a discount and that they used it. If they didn’t want to give a discount, they wouldn’t– after all, there is no mandate forcing them to have one. Ask about a discount for the groups you belong to (ie. AAA, AARP, military, etc.). If you belong to a union or have certain discount cards, credit cards, or financial institutions, you might find that that affiliation has a special discount too. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
In a world of Expedias and Hotel.coms, it’s easy to forget about booking directly from the hotel. Many hotels now offer special prices that are lower than what you can find on a hotel search engine. Calling the hotel directly can also be a great strategy. Ask for their lowest, rock-bottom price.
Before you book, make sure that you have a loyalty or rewards card. Many hotel chains offer specials and perks to rewards card members including faster internet, evening cookies (yum!), or even extra late check-outs. You might also be able to accrue stays or points for extra discounts or free nights, too.
Go All In
If you know that your plans are absolutely not going to change, you might want to book without a cancellation option. Some hotels offer cheaper overall rates if you opt out of a cancellation policy. Watch out though, this can lose you a chunk of cash if your plans do change last minute– so book carefully.
Ask for an Upgrade
When you’re checking into your hotel, ask if there are any better rooms available for the same price. We do this every time and it’s hit and miss. Once, we were upgraded to a corner room that had a panoramic view– absolutely gawwwgisss. Other times, we’ve been moved away from high-traffic areas (ie. close to the elevator) and once we were moved into a larger room, complete with complimentary wine, flowers, and truffles. Of course, there have been a number of times that we’ve asked and nothing has been available. It’s definitely a hit-or-miss strategy, but it is also definitely worth it to ask.
Factor in the Extras
Sweet. You found a hotel room for $60/night + taxes. Awesome. Okay, put the brakes on for a sec. Will booking that hotel room actually cost you more money? If you’re staying long-term in a hotel during a PCS, you need to think about the way your family functions. Food, specifically, is a really great place to start, because everyone has to eat. Does that $60 hotel room have a fridge so that you can store healthy, nutritious meals and drinks? If you don’t, that means a lot of nights eating out– which adds up fast, especially when you have a larger family. Does it have a free breakfast? Do you have anywhere to do food prep (or will you be making PBJs on your lap)? Moving on from food– does it have free wifi? (Believe it or not, there are still hotels that don’t provide free internet. Trust me, I just stayed in one.) If you’re bringing a pet, are there fees associated with that? If you’re a fitness buff (or just like getting in a workout), are there facilities for that? Is the parking free?
If you’re looking for a long-term stay experience that will be pleasant and budget-friendly, check out TownePlace Suites by Marriot. They have a discount program specifically for military families on TAD/TDY and PCSes. Their amenities are excellent– a pool, fitness center, fully stocked kitchen and free wifi. They’re pet-friendly, too, and also have studio and one- or two-bedroom suites available depending on your needs.