For years my parents have been nagging me to take them to India, well this year, is the year their dream comes true – gulp!!!!! The way I travel and the way my parents travel are at very different ends of the spectrum. I usually jump on a plane with a rough itinerary, wander completely off the beaten track and stay in the 1st cheap, clean and cheerful hotel I stumble across. Mum and dad on the other hand like everything well organised and booked months in advance, so this is the fun task I have been doing this week. They haven’t travelled much in developing countries, so to provide an oasis to escape the craziness of India we are living it up in 5 star hotels. These are my tips on booking hotels.
My Tips on Booking Hotels
1. Where to stay? The first place I start is TripAdvisor. It is a great website to find all the hotels in a given town and narrow them down by: price, the rating and amenities (e.g. a pool to cool down after a day in the Indian sun √ TICK). Also, the best thing about TripAdvisor is you can read what other travellers have to say. Be wary of reviews where the contributor has only ever written one review!!!!! They may be friends of the hotel owner.
2. Location, Location, Location Check the location of the hotel. If it is really cheap then you may find you are staying miles away from the tourist attractions and probably civilisation. Expedia has a great feature, which integrates with Google maps. Clicking on the map you can see exactly how far you are from all the fun stuff.
3. Go a hunting When you have chosen a hotel, go a hunting. Google is your friend when you need to find the best deals. There are many, many comparison sites to choose from, here are some of my tried and trusted favourites:
4. Be careful of “too good to be true” prices Unfortunately on the world wide web there are some unscrupulous companies who will happily steal your hard earn cash. If you have never used a web site before, use Google to do some research and see whether other fellow travellers have had good experiences with them.
5. Do not accept the first price!!! Prices can vary hugely between web sites, I also found prices can change drastically day to day even on the same comparison web site. You can only rely on today’s figure, so always check a few web sites before booking your perfect retreat.
6. Keep track of pricesAs you hunt for a bargain, if you are anything like me, you will end up with a million Internet Explorer windows open. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the websites you visited and the great deals you found.
7. Check the actual hotel website Sometimes the hotel has a special deal that is not passed on to the comparison site, so it is always worth visiting the hotels website.
8. Exchange Rates Be careful of exchange rates, they can cause prices to vary greatly. In the last week, the pound has dropped against the rupee, making my initial estimates of the trip much lower :o(
9. The early bird catches the worm If you book early you may get some advanced booking deals. However, you have to be quick, bargains get snapped up quickly.
10. Double check what’s included I found web sites offering the same price on a room, but not all of them including breakfast. Also before you finally click on that payment button, ensure no extra taxes and fees have been added last minute.
11. Enjoy!!!!! Finally with all the hard work done, the only thing left to do is enjoy your holiday. India is one of those places you either love or hate – I just hope my parents will love it as much as I do.
If you have any great tips on getting the best hotel deals, then I would love to hear from you.