When planning trips, most people only consider hotels. I urge you to consider other types of lodging. Some will save you money, while others are just more fun or convenient.
Motels are our first stop. Motels have a unique history in America. "Motel" was first used by a property that called itself a motor hotel and shortened the name. These properties are smaller and usually more inexpensive than hotels. By the way, Motel 6 is a hotel chain or at least a very large motel.
Bed and breakfasts, commonly called B&Bs, are another alternative to hotels. B&Bs are individually owned and operated, thus each property is different. B&Bs can have varying qualities, price ranges, and amenities.
OK, you probably know about motels and B&Bs, so I just wanted to mention them. Following are some more interesting ploys.
Vacation rentals are one of my favorites. Properties offered for rent include houses, condos, apartments, villas, boats, castles, and so on. Vacation rental properties are much more fun and convenient than hotels, and, most importantly, usually cost less!
Timeshares are always available for rent, because owners cannot use their assigned week or plans change (work, emergency). Often timeshare properties are listed at the last minute and you can get incredible deals. I once rented a 2 bedroom condo in Florida for $100 (total); another property was a 3 bedroom condo in Kauai for $33 a night. The two above links are popular timeshare websites but listings can also be found on eBay.com, craiglist.com, and many other places. Many people get discounted lodging by attending timeshare sales presentations.
Corporate apartments are sometimes available for short-term rentals. Oakwood is the largest agency but there are many others. Some require a 30 day minimum stay and others do not. One of my corporate stays was at a 3 bedroom apartment in South Florida for less than $40 a night. The beauty of corporate stays, besides saving loads of cash, is that they often do grocery shopping for you, they have nightly happy hours or bbq dinners, and the property is vacant during the day; while the business people are at work, we have the pool and facilities to ourselves. If you just love hotel chains but long-term rentals appeal to you, check out Marriott's Execustay or Extended Stay America, although any hotel/motel/etc. will offer lower rates for longer stays. Ask!
Don't forget about hostels. Most are not just for youth, either, especially during the off-peak periods. You just may find yourself staying in a castle, lighthouse, boat, or other unique property.
Of course, there are always options like camping, sleeping in airports or train stations, couch surfing, freeloading, and so on.
© 2008, Charles McCool