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Save Me a Dime: Hotel booking secrets for getting the best deals

Part of the fun of traveling is finding a great place to stay, but a good hotel can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Sometimes, we need a break from East Tennessee, but finding a place to stay for your vacation can cost more than the rest of the trip.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Here are three tips from travel experts to get the best deals.

1. Pick the right times to travel and bundle.

You can save money by traveling during the six months of the year when people aren't going on vacation as much. These are called "shoulder seasons." They're during February, March and April and September, October and November. A hotel that's normally $400 in June or July can go down to $180 in March.

Travel expert, Felecia Hancock, runs the Local Time Travel Deals blog. Hancock said you can save a lot of money by booking your hotel with your flights in a bundle. 

She recommends finding the cheapest flights in Google Flights and taking those dates to Hotwire or Expedia. Once on those sites, click “bundle,” and you can save up to several hundred dollars on the trip and hotel.

If you're just looking at hotel deals without a bundle, you can visit websites like Trivago.com and Kayak.com. They compare hotel, Airbnb and VRBO deals for you all in one place so you can spend less time comparing prices on your own. 

Booking.com is another great resource. Hancock recommends being aware of its free cancellation option. You can book through there, and it’s often free to cancel later if you find a better deal. If the price drops, the website will tell you, or if you find that a hotel is cheaper somewhere else, it will do a price match as well. You just have to start the conversation and prove the price match. 

2. Try mystery hotels and last-minute buys.

You can book mystery hotels on Hotwire and Priceline. They will tell you the location, rating and typical cost, but not the name. You get a much better price since they're trying to sell unoccupied rooms.

HotelTonight.com is another great resource to find hotels that have last-minute deals for lower prices. 

3. Check out what rewards you might already have and not even know about.

Check all your cards and memberships to see if there are some deals you are missing out on. AARP and AAA offer some discounts with major hotel lines. Many credit card companies like Chase and American Express also have discounts.

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