Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: On our recent roadtrip, we stayed in quite a few hotels. I couldn't use Priceline or Hotwire to get rooms, because those sites usually won't let you request the number of beds in a room, and I didn't fancy a night with me and my three kids sharing one queen-size.
The best deals I got were often on the hotel's website, which would advertise some last-minute or summer special. On one occasion (for a hotel in Las Vegas), I mentioned that I'd found a lower price on TravelWorm.com, and the hotel said they would match it after verification. That saved $40 a night.
Also, I check for any hotel coupons. The magazines at state visitor centers are filled with local offers. HotelCoupons.com has local coupons for a lot of areas, too. I was able to find a coupon on that site that brought down a $99-a-night room at the top-rated hotel in Cedar City, Utah, to only $64. Many hotels also give discounts to AAA members, so if you have a membership, always ask about the AAA rate.
I've also found it worthwhile to sign up for whatever rewards programs the hotel has. For instance, the Hilton family of hotels -- which includes Hampton Inns, Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inns -- has a rewards program called "Hilton Honors." I signed up for it to earn points on my stays and to get a discount code associated with their honors program. Sometimes rewards programs give perks like free parking, spa entry or breakfast, too.
I'm all about the free breakfast. With my kids, a hearty breakfast is a necessity and sets their mood for the next few hours. If you're picky about your morning meal, the ubiquitous breakfast buffet of yogurt, bagels, eggs, sausage and cereals won't thrill you, but it's perfect for my family. Everyone can find something they like, and since it's right in the hotel and already prepared, we can hit the road a lot earlier. I was only able to get hotels that included breakfast a few times on our trip, but those few mornings saved us over $100.
Finally, don't forget to always check reviews for hotels, and make note of the cancellation policies.