Autumn Escapes in the Pacific Northwest

Finding Cheap Sleeps: Advice for Travelers on a Budget

by Lauren Braden on April 30, 2008

in Trip Ideas

$280 a night. Really?
findingcheapsleepsI’ve been looking for an inexpensive room on Orcas Island for a weekend trip this June. In-room Jacuzzis and balconies overlooking the water are great! Sure, I’d love to stay in a room like that. But I’m just not on a budget for that kind of lodging.

When we travel, we look for places to stay that are friendly, inexpensive, and a good value. Sometimes that means small but clean rooms with modest furnishings. Often it means shared bathrooms. Occasionally, it means staying in someones home and they cook you a tasty breakfast. See, not so bad!

I think that there’s a market for quality budget lodging that is not being fully served. If I wanted to spend $250 a night for a big room with a view and chocolates by my bed, there are a number of inns and hotels to choose from. And they’re easy to find because they advertise and tend to rank high on internet searches. But for a cheap sleep I’m often spending hours on the internet and telephone to find a suitable place.

With many folks still feeling the impact of our global recession, travelers are still looking for good values on lodging.


Here’s my advice for finding a cheap sleep during your vacation:

1) Ask for the room with the shared bath. I wish more inns would catch on to this European style of lodging, where every 2-3 bedrooms share a bathroom in the hall. It’s far less expensive for the inn to provide space for and maintain fewer bathrooms, so of course they charge less for these rooms. I’ve found in local inns that do have shared baths that usually the innkeepers are conscientious to keep them meticulously clean. And really, how much time are you spending in the bathroom anyway?

2) Look for low-profile bed and breakfasts. Although harder to find, B&Bs that don’t invest in advertising or have a glossy website for their establishment are often smaller, family-run operations with less expensive rooms. You can find these in guidebooks, or on the local town’s chamber of commerce website or visitors bureau’s list of local lodgings. But really, I hear of most of these through word-of-mouth. Also, keep in mind the cost of a hot, home-cooked breakfast is included in what you pay for a B&B, so the value is often higher than for a place you don’t get breakfast.

3) Double up. Many inns and cabins sleep more than two, and adding another person, a second couple or even another whole family to the price of your large room, suite or cabin is a very economical way to go.

4) Look for kitchenettes. Unless you are opposed to cooking your own meals while on vacation, you can save a great deal of money by eating in.

5) Ask if they have any specials. With higher gas prices and stagnant wages, fewer people are traveling. This will probably mean more vacancy signs. If an inn needs the business, they may be willing to lower rates if asked. And it never hurts to ask.

RELATED: Tips for Last-Minute Travel and Scoring Deals

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

val April 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

You can go cheap & rustic witb a cabin or yurt at Doe Bay on Orcas? I haven’t been but have heard good things.

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Lauren Braden April 25, 2013 at 7:00 am

Val, yes! See our piece on Doe Bay here: Doe Bay on Orcas Island Fits Every Budget

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