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As anyone who has ever traveled anywhere knows, one of the biggest expenses often tends to be accommodation. It can seem like any time you want to take a trip, the prices are sky-high, no matter how far and wide you look! However, award-winning travel journalist Oneika Raymond says that with a little time spent hotel hacking, you can save a whole lot of money (and stress), and be able to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. She sat down with us at Your Morning to dish out the top five tricks so that you can get the most out of your accommodations for less.

Compare rates

Head to TripAdvisor to look for accommodation; while they have their own booking tool for most properties, they also will show a price comparison of at least three or four online booking sites like Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia, and Hotels.com. There are possible differences of over $50 USD a night by comparing.

Loyalty programs

Hotels, airlines, and credit cards reward you for your loyalty in ways that can help you save money on accommodation. For example, Marriott Hotels has their Marriott Bonvoy program, where you can earn and redeem points at nearly 7000 hotels around the world comprising 29 brands.  They have co-branded credit cards including AMEX that allow members to accelerate how many points they accrue when they use their credit card.

Expedia has a loyalty program, same with Hotels.com. Lastly, Air Miles aren’t only for flights! Sometimes if the cost per mile to book an award airfare ticket isn’t good, it’s more advantageous to use on hotel stays.

Book in advance

If you have already have your travel plans on lock, consider booking at least one month ahead. The law of supply and demand applies here: the more a property is already booked, the more expensive the remaining rooms will cost. Furthermore, rooms can also be 10-15% cheaper if you select the non-refundable option.

Book last minute

If you really have nothing to lose, websites like Priceline allow you to “bid” for hotel rooms. It’s a bit of a mystery, since the only choices you have are the amount you’re willing to bid, star rating, and neighbourhood. You have to enter in your credit card information in advance and if something is found with the limited criteria you’ve given, your card will be charged and it’s non-refundable. If you don’t mind booking last minute (think night before or same day) One:Night is a good option.

Alternative accommodation

You’ve heard of AirBnb and Couchsurfing, but what about getting free lodging in exchange for language tutoring in your native language? TalkBnb is an online community that hooks up travelers with hosts who offer free lodging, a home cooked meal, and often tours of the city in exchange for the travelers speaking with their host in their native language throughout the stay, to help them improve.