Travelers who are conscious of their budget and want the peace of mind knowing where they will spend the night need to be smart and book their lodging via the internet before they go.
Most hotels, even the smaller ones, take reservations online. It is very convenient as you don’t need to deal with different time zones and language barriers as you would with a call. Going direct removes a middleman or third party who will take a commission. Here are a few suggestions and considerations to address before you open up that browser window.
Making a Hotel Reservation
For international travel, it’s usually best and easiest to book it through the hotel’s website. Most hotel websites now have a reservation-request form as part of their site. (For the best rates, use the hotel’s official site and not a booking agency’s site.) If there is no online reservation form send an email to the hotel. Even if there is a form it’s a good idea to send a separate email especially if you have a special request regarding your accommodations. This also personalizes your booking and you may get a better room and a warmer welcome. Don’t worry about the language, most hotels accommodate guests who only speak English.
Before you start typing make sure you have the below information ready to share with the hotel:
- your date of arrival – spell out the month to minimize confusion as most other countries use the format day/month/year
- your date of departure and confirm the number of nights you’re expecting lodging for.
- the number and type of rooms you need
- any special needs (twin beds vs. double bed, bathroom in the room vs. down the hall, elevator, no stairs, air-conditioning)
Pack Personal Security Devices
- Pack a portable door lock for personal safety; this is especially necessary for smaller or budget accommodations which may still use metal room keys.
- Pack a portable safe to secure your belongings. In case your lodging does not have a safe or one which is too small to hold larger items such as a laptop, tablet or various items.
- Pack a personal alarm. Carry this small security device in your purse or hang it on your backpack.
Confirming Your Reservation
Most hotels require a credit card to hold your room. Entering your personal credit card information in a secure form online is perfectly ok, but emailing it is not a good practice. It is more secure to share it via a phone call or by splitting your number between two emails. Always bring a printed copy or screenshot of the confirmation, just in the off chance the reservation is lost.
Small B&Bs or pensions, not associated with a service like Airbnb, may not hold a room reservation without a deposit. Make sure you get an email back confirming the duration of your stay, type of accommodation, room rate and money put down and their cancellation/refund policy. The earlier you arrive, the better your chances of a room being held for you. If you end up running a little late, call the establishment to assure the owners that you’re coming and to keep a room for you.
Use a site like Airbnb or VRBO which have international operations.
Canceling a Reservation
If you end up canceling your reservation, do so with as much notice as possible, especially for smaller family-run places. Request confirmation of your cancellation in case you are accidentally charged. Heads up that cancellation policies vary and can be strict; read the fine print or ask about these before you book. For example, if you cancel on short notice, you could lose your deposit, or be charged for a night or even your entire stay. If you’re unclear about a policy email the hotel prior to booking.
Reconfirm Your Reservations
Always call or email to reconfirm your room reservation a few days in advance. Should something have gone wrong with the reservation you’ll have a couple of days to put alternative plans into place. Again carry a hard copy or a screenshot of your reservation, and make sure you have the phone numbers for your hotels handy too.