How To | Life Hacks

Why You Should Always Steal The Hotel Soap, And 6 Other Thrifty Travel Tips

Trip Advisor / Andrea Out Loud

If you ever took a family vacation as a child, you probably lived through the age-old family debate: is it right to steal the little soap bars from you hotel bathroom?

My family was pretty cheap, so the answer we always settled on was, "Yes, of course."

But the moral question of soap stealing is still a hot button issue for many people.

Today, we're going to put it to rest once and for all. And we have six other thrifty travel tips that don't involve stealing - just saving.

1. Yes, you should steal the soap

Soap
Supermac1961 - Wikimedia

We like to think of stealing hotel soap as a lowbrow way of saving a few bucks, but it's actually an eco-conscious habit.

You see, hotels must throw out any leftover toiletries when they "flip" or clean a room. Whether you used it or not, it's about cleanliness and customer safety.

Because of those strict rules, about a million soap bars a day are chucked in the garbage nationwide.

Recycled soap
Clean the World

Now, plenty of charities have stepped in to collect the extra soap - and any unopened shampoos - and recycle them to be donated around the world.

But the long and short of it is, if you'll use the soap, you should feel free to take it. Consider it included in the cost of your room.

2. Get a Best Price Guarantee

Best Price Guarantee
STA Travel

When you're booking a hotel online (or a rental car, flight, or travel package) be on the lookout for the Best Price Guarantee.

These promises work like price matching at the grocery store: find a lower price for your room or service and the company will refund you the difference.

It's a handy way to save money when you're shopping around, but you need to act fast.

Expedia throws in a $50 coupon with any price correction, but you need to find the cheaper deal within 24 hours. Some websites are even stingier, with smaller windows to save.

3. Stay outside the city

Hotel
Porto Bay Hotel & Resorts - Flickr

I find one of the easiest ways to slim down my hotel bill is to settle for a room in the suburbs of my destination.

Yes, you might pay more for taxis to and from the hotel, but not always.

Along with cheap public transportation in your destination, sometimes your hotel will offer free shuttles to and from the airport or city center.

Some hotels even offer a discount on taxi fares if you use their preferred company. It's worth checking if moving an extra mile or two can save you a bundle on your hotel.

4. Skip the hotel altogether

Airbnb
Pexels

These days, more and more people are enjoying cheap vacations using apartment sharing apps like Airbnb. While you don't get all the comforts of a hotel in a rented apartment, the savings are terrific.

It's easy to narrow down your search by size, budget, and the length of your getaway. Checking photos and interviewing your host can help you avoid a dud room.

Just bear in mind that since your room isn't a hotel, your host may have a lot of strict rules about cleanliness and behavior.

And we should mention that some Airbnb stays were real nightmares.

5. Cash in on your memberships

AAA
AAA

"But I don't have any membership discounts," you may be thinking. I'm happy to tell you, you're wrong.

If you're one of the 58 million AAA members in North America, you're entitled to plenty of discounts you simply forget to ask for.

AARP members can get discounts on hotels too, and a number of hotel chains also offer government and military discounts.

Steve Baker - Flickr

Even large retail chains like Walmart, IKEA, and Best Buy offer corporate perks to their employees.

Most importantly, many of these discounts can be shared with friends and family members. So shake down your relatives for membership discounts before you book.

6. Call the front desk to haggle

Front desk
Patrick Pelletier - Wikimedia

Where can you get the best deal on a hotel room? It's not always a travel website. Sometimes going straight to the front desk is even better.

Concierges, even more than the employees at a hotel's call center, are empowered to make deals and offer discounts for customers.

Call ahead and get a quote on your preferred room, then try and haggle the price down. Please, thank you, and a little know-how can earn you big savings.

7. Use Google Flights

This online tool is a little-known way to save on flights.

Google Flights
Apple Novinsky

It combines Google's search power with airline software to track flight prices and spot killer deals.

You can plan your trip, compare prices between carriers and hotels, and set automatic price alerts in case a cheaper flight becomes available.

Combine the service with other common sense money-saving tips - like using a rewards credit card - and your vacation is starting to pay for itself.

In case you need any more encouragement, there's a scientific reason you need a vacation.

And you can save money every day using this mom's genius savings challenge.