How much time should you spend picking out a hotel?

I’ve read about something called the Law of Diminishing Returns. In short, it says that every extra minute you spend on something will get you less in return than the minute before.

Take, for instance, booking a hotel room. For every question you answer, there always seem to be two new questions  How are the ratings of the hotels in the area? Are there any promotions going on right now that might apply?  Should you use points or cash? Could you book with AAA, Costco or book a package to save money? Which card should you use to pay? The amount of things to consider are dizzying. Don’t even get me started when you also have to consider using hotel points.

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Here are some hints to keep you from spending more time planning your trip than you spend BEING AWAY on your trip 🙂

  • Use technology to your advantage. I love to look at Oyster for pictures of the hotels which aren’t doctored by the marketing departments.  I also use TripAdvisor or Trivago to find a place in my price range, even if Trivago’s ads can be a bit creepy.
  • Try to narrow your search and broaden as needed. If you start looking at 100 hotels, it will take forever. Pick a specific neighborhood or hotel chain or price range and start there.
  • Learn that there is no “perfect.” The faster you learn this, the happier you will be. Stop trying to find the perfect hotel. If you are choosing between the #1 and #2 hotel in the area, you will most likely be happy at either one of them.
  • Know what is important to YOU. Do you need internet access in the room? Do you need a gym? What about a refrigerator or even a kitchen? Do you need a hotel with room service? Laundry? Airport Shuttle? Nearby access to Starbucks? All of these are important to some people, but maybe not to you. Use these things to help you choose.
  • If using points, I look to Hotel Hustle to show me which chains have points hotels in the area. It also shows the value per point based on going rates. It’s a quick way to see if using points for a room is worth looking into.
  • Know what you have to work with. If you have any free nights from credit cards (Marriott, IHG, Hyatt) don’t let them go to waste. Same goes for hotel points or gift cards. It’s always better to spend someone else’s money.
  • Think really hard before making a non-refundable reservation. Will those few extra dollars be worth it if you need to change your trip? What if a really good price comes up at that other hotel you were looking at? It’s always good to leave your options open.

I’ve spent many an hour in front of the computer, trying to decide which hotel to stay at. It shouldn’t be that hard of a decision. You should spend more time on your vacation than figuring out where to stay during it.

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