Updated: 2017-07-14; Originally Published: 2011-10-02.
Just like airfare hacking, accommodations and its hacking are increasing in popularity as well, due to the similar consolidation of hotel rewards programs along with the myriad options of earning those hotel rewards points, without even staying at a hotel.
Just like frequent fliers and frequent flier programs, one who stays often at hotels are often called frequent lodgers, and the programs are called frequent lodger programs. See more travel definitions at the Dauntless Jaunter Travel Glossary »
Hacking Accommodations: Obtain Affinity Credit/Debit Cards
Like co-branded airline cards, the most popular and far-reaching hotel programs align themselves with affinity cards, to increase member loyalty. Spending money on these credit or debit cards earn you points towards future hotel stays. The best card that I have seen, and that most agree with to be the industry standard bearer, is the Starwood SPG American Express Credit Card.
Hacking Accommodations: Acquire Unconventional Lodging
Though most travelers like the privacy and intimacy of a hotel room, especially if traveling with children or as a couple, there are many more economical options out there. Hostels are one option, where you can lodge in a dormitory-style building, possibly sharing a bunk with another backpacker, as well as the room with many others. Hostels are the base camp of many travelers on a budget. Another option can be a home-stay, which is where a traveler can be hosted by a local person or family, who also provides meals and delightful (and a bit awkward) conversations, for a smaller fee than what conventional hotels charge.
I advocate for this form of lodging most strongly, as it allows you to completely immerse yourself in the culture and life of a real local, with the home-cooked meals, conversation, and day-to-day routines. Couchsurfing is similar, where a local may offer you their couch (or room, if one is available) during your stay. Unlike the other forms of lodging, couchsurfing is usually gratis, though compensation such as treating the host to dinner or drinks is common.
Like I said earlier, travel hacking is really just any creative, unconventional way a traveler may use to reduce or eliminate the cost of a trip. There are other things to hack, but the larger the interconnected world of a company (airlines, hotel chains, etc.), the more hackable it can be. This being said, many have been clever enough to hack costs such as food, beverages, and museum tickets, all by knowing what to look for. Start with these more major travel hacks, and the small things will hit you in time.
Reason: Migration of site from the old, long URL (www.dauntlessjaunter.com) to this long-overdue shorter one 🙂 (we may have updated some typos or metadata while we were at it)