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Three Tips for Finding Low-Cost Accommodations for Your Vacation

The average American family vacation, according to AAA, costs about $1,600, more or less. While many people spend plenty of money on food, travel, and visiting attractions during a vacation, there's no doubt that the accommodations are often the priciest part of the vacation. If you're planning a vacation and want to save as much as possible, take these three tips for finding cheaper accommodations on your summer vacation:

Look at All Your Options

Don't get sucked into the rut of only looking at hotels in your vacation area. Hotels, especially those that are nearest to the main attractions of the area you're visiting, are probably your most expensive option. Before you book that room, look at other options in the area. Here are some that you might find:

Cheaper hotels Of course, there are plenty of cheap hotel options, too, but not all of them are sleazy motels that you really want to avoid. Some of the cheaper hotels may simply have a bad location or may not be a large chain hotel that can hike up its prices based on the power of its name. Also, you should look at different types of rooms within each hotel, since it's often possible to get cheaper accommodations at a particular hotel.

Bed and Breakfasts B&Bs are not only quaint and cute, but they can also be cheaper. Because they are family run, their rates may be lower than the rates for a hotel. Also, breakfast is pretty much always included, and at some places, you can also get snacks and coffee for free, too. Just be aware that not all B&Bs offer accommodations for children, so check up on this when planning a vacation with kids.

Hostels If you really don't care much about luxury accommodations, hostels are a great way to go. Usually featuring group sleeping arrangements on twin-sized bunk beds (which may or may not be divided into a men's room and a women's room) and shared bathrooms, a reputable hostel will offer clean, safe accommodations for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room.

Campgrounds Even if you don't want to actually camp, many campgrounds have cheap cabin-style accommodations. KOA – Kampgrounds of America – often offer family accommodations in cabins that are a more affordable option if you're staying with several people.

Housing swaps If you want to get really adventurous, check out housing swap options, where you stay in someone else's home for vacation
while they stay in your own.

Ask for Discounts and Specials Discounts and specials abound at hotels, bed and breakfasts, and even campgrounds, at times. Before you book, ask about any discounts or specials that might be going on. And don't be afraid to haggle for prices, as well – especially if you're booking quite early or at the very last minute, when the hotel will be concerned with filling up empty rooms. Asking for a discount may get you nowhere, but you'll never know until you ask.

You may also want to check with your credit card company about potential discounts or specials on their end. Check credit card reviews to find a company that offers hotel discounts if you stay a certain number of nights, or that offers good rebates for travel. If you're traveling out of the country, be sure to look at the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, since those foreign transaction fees from your hotel expense and anywhere else in the country you're traveling to can take a serious chunk out of your vacation budget.

Consider a Travel Agent Contrary to what many people think, working with the right travel agent can actually save you money on your vacation. The key is to ensure that you're working with an agent who will really work for you, rather than just trying to upsell you all the time. Travel agents are often privy to lots of deals that the average public can't access, so a good travel agent may be able to save you money on your accommodations.

Before you choose a travel agent, ask for recommendations. And then, try to work with an agent who specializes in the specific place you're traveling to. Once you've found a travel agent, talk candidly about your budget and about what you expect of your accommodations. A travel agent is a great option for saving on highly-rated hotel options, since they may be able to get you a more suitable room or to get discounts for you at good hotels.

These three tips will help you save on your accommodations in Uruguay for your summer vacation – or any time you're traveling. Now, you just have to decide if you'll splurge the money you're saving on a fancy dinner out or if you'll just save it for next year's vacation.

Ashyia Hill is a social media advocate for CreditDonkey, helping travelers find the best credit cards that offer the best perks to match their lifestyle.

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