Answered by Shae Pepper, blogger & photographer
As we're living in hotels and Airbnb's for at least the next five years, one of our biggest cost factors is accommodation. Before setting off on the road trip, Stephen researched all the pet-friendly hotels of each brand that were category 1 or category 2 so that we could maximize our points at each chain.
We both applied for credit cards with each major hotel chain to earn all the signup bonuses we could. We ensured they were paid off every month, so we never paid any interest. That meant that at the start of our road trip, we had - in theory - enough points for almost a year of free accommodation if we could maximize the points in the best way.
If a city has a category 1 or 2 property, we'll tend to book that. If there's nothing available on points, we check hotels to get a general idea of prices in that area. Stephen then checks all the chains individually as you can usually get lower prices by booking directly. Booking directly also means that you can earn points, receive status benefits (e.g. bonus points, room upgrades, free breakfast, etc.)
We also check Airbnb to see what their prices are like. We've sometimes found some great deals that way, either in terms of low cost or location - or both!
Groupon has also been an excellent way to save money on experiencing a new city. Not only can you get discounted tickets for attractions, but Groupon frequently offers additional 20-25% off coupon codes. You can sometimes buy Groupon gift cards at a discount (e.g. from Paypal Digital Gifts on eBay), plus you can earn cashback through a cashback portal. Using stacking methods like these means you get to have fun experiences at a fraction of the price.
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