Hotels.com - This is my personal favorite because my daughter's dance team does several competitions out of town. The prices are usually comparable (unless the competition has reserved a hotel block at a special price) and with their rewards program, you can earn a free night after 10 stays. Your team doesn't travel that much? Have several moms go in together on one hotels.com account, reserve the rooms together, split the cost, and then when you reach the reward and go to use it on the next competition stay, you can reserve together again and split the cost and everyone benefits from the reward.
HotelTonight.com - This one is not for the faint of heart. This is traveling to a destination without a hotel reservation and trusting that you will be able to find something once your there. From the hotel tonight website: HotelTonight is an online travel app that allows users to find discounted hotel accommodations throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. Due to the last minute nature of the bookings, the app can offer deep discounts off the listed hotel rate. Since its launch in 2010, HotelTonight has been downloaded by more than 15 million users.
Several of the national hotel chains also offer a rewards program including Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and many others. If you have a favorite chain, go to their website and look for any rewards program that they might offer.
Another huge expense when traveling is meals. You have to eat, but how can you keep it from breaking the bank?
Breakfast - I always suggest staying at a hotel that offers free breakfasts, but if that is not a possibility, You can always fall back on prepackaged donuts, breakfast rolls, or the standby Pop Tarts. If that doesn't sound appealing, a cooler full of frozen breakfast bowls, sandwiches, or sausages could be the answer. As long as you have access to a microwave, there is no need to go without a hot breakfast.
Lunch - If you are at the competition during lunch, there is no need to rely on snack food or the expensive treats served at the concession stands. You can pack a lunch just as you would for school or a picnic. If you are lucky enough to be at the hotel for lunch, hot dogs, hamburgers, soup, bacon (BLT's), or any frozen dinners can be made in the microwave.
Dinner - Much like lunch at the hotel, dinners at the hotel can be most anything that can be microwaved. Spaghetti noodles can be cooked ahead of time, drained and put in a ziplock bag, and then ran under hot water to reheat. Sauce can be heated in the microwave. There are several rice or macaroni cups than can be the perfect side dish to frozen burgers or hot dogs, and vegetables can always be heated in the microwave.
If you go this route, I strongly suggest a trip to the dollar store for cheap glass bowls and plates for heating things. Disposable plates and utensils are available there as well. Your largest expense here will be coolers, but even the cheap foam ones get the job done really well.
I hope you enjoyed the third part in our series. Look for the fourth and final part next week!