July 22, 2011 7:41 PM PT

Hotel Travel Tips

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It can take quite a bit of time to find the hotel that fits your needs and within your budget. If you have invested quite a bit of time finding the hotel for your upcoming trip, you’ll want to make sure that you take advantage of all that it has to offer. Here are some tips for you to use to make sure you get the most out of your hotel during your travels. Also included are some tips to keep your wallet happy when it’s time to pay for the bill.

Take advantage of credit card rewards

Many consumers associate travel rewards with flying but did you know that many rewards credit cards allow their cardholders to use accrued points toward hotel room rates? Before you book your next hotel, take a quick trip to your rewards website to see if the hotel you’ve been eyeing is available for booking through your rewards program.

If you don’t have enough points to cover the hotel room, you may want to check with your rewards program to see if it has a bonus points program. Many credit cards offer promotional periods where their cardholders will earn extra points when using their credit cards at certain types of merchants, such as hotels. These special promotions often require the credit card holder to enroll in the promotion program before they get the extra rewards.

Make hotel reservations by phone

If you aren’t utilizing a travel agent or your credit card’s rewards program, it is recommended that you make your reservations via the phone. This will give you the opportunity to confirm special rates and the features of the room that you have selected.

If you do book online, you may want to give the hotel a call to ask about their amenities. This will help you determine what you need to pack and what you can leave at home. For example, some hotels provide patrons hair dryers, wifi, complimentary meals, free parking and laundry service but you can’t assume that every hotel will offer these and other items.

Get to know the late arrival policy

Many hotels will only guarantee reserved rooms until 6 p.m. If you arrive after that time, your room may have been given to another guest. No matter what time you expect to arrive at the hotel, it’s a good idea to call in advance to ask about their policy. This way, if your transportation plans change, you’ll know whether you need to call the hotel from the road to ensure a room is waiting for you in when you get to your destination.

Take advantage of the concierge

Many hotels offer its guests concierge service. These employees are able to help you make your stay as smooth as possible by providing restaurant and entertainment suggestions and reservations, directions, assistance with arranging transportation, and other services to help you out.

Sometimes the concierge will also know of specials that local businesses are offering, helping you shave some expenses off your vacation.

To take full advantage of the concierge, be sure to leave enough time for your requests. Also, be smart with your tipping; by giving half of your tip up front and the other half when your request has been completed, you may find you get better service.

Safety first

As with any aspect of your travels, you will want to be sure that you stay safe in your hotel. No matter how nice of a hotel or where it is located, there is always the chance of risk, so stay observant and follow some simple steps.

  • Park near the hotel entrance or your room
  • If leaving items in your car, keep them out of sight in your trunk
  • Ask for a room with an inside entrance
  • Keep any valuables in the in-room safe
  • Always deadbolt your door once inside your room
  • Review the fire exits when you settle in
  • Never open the door for anyone unless you have identified them through the peephole

Meghan C is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Meghan C at meghan@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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