By Catharine Hamm
10:30 AM EST, January 31, 2014
Besides providing ideas and inspiration for your trip, the Los Angeles Times Travel Show on Jan. 18 and 19 handed out money-saving tips at its panel sessions. Here are some that we gathered:
• A service called Roomer can help you offset your costs for a hotel room you paid for and suddenly can't use. You list your room with Roomer, and it tries to find a buyer. Conversely, travelers can save money by buying rooms that others can't use. A recent search for random dates showed a $108-a-night charge on Roomer for the Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C.; the best rate for that date on its website was $173. For a queen room at the Lucerne Hotel in New York City on Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 1-3: $179 a night on Roomer; website price $284. For details on buying and selling, go to RoomerTravel.com. Tip from Jen Leo, who moderated the More for Your Money panel.
• If you have a bit of a gambler in your soul, booking a last-minute hotel room using the HotelTonight app may pay off. The app, which allows you to start looking for a hotel as early as 9 a.m. the day of your stay, offers a last-minute inventory reduction on the theory that an empty hotel room is a missed revenue opportunity. Recent examples: a room at the Westin Pasadena for $119 (regularly $149), at the Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club in Redondo Beach for $159 (usually $179) and at the Ambrose, a boutique hotel in Santa Monica, for $199 (usually $259). These were for a recent Friday; your experience will vary by day and by city. Tip courtesy of John DiScala, a.k.a. JohnnyJet.com.
• Summer in Europe is often the worst time to find affordable accommodations because that's when tourists flock there. But that's not the case for Brussels, the home of the European Union. If you're looking for a hotel bargain, go to Brussels in July or August or on the weekend; that's when EU members go home and hotel prices drop. Some examples on random dates: A room June 10-13 at Le Méridien Brussels goes for $305 a night and one at the Royal Windsor Hotel Grand Place for $209; by July 15-18, those prices drop to $142 and $157, respectively. (Prices may also vary depending on how far in advance you book.)
• Conversely, avoid tourist spots on the weekends. Bruges, for instance, known for its Belgian lace, is more expensive when the crowds convene. The Hotel Navarra shows a price of $184 for June 14, a Saturday, but $158 on June 11, a Wednesday. Both tips courtesy of Liliane Opsomer of VisitFlanders.com.
• Search for free entertainment. As is true with many museums in Washington, D.C., many London museums are free: the marvelous British Museum, the Imperial War Museum (which is to reopen in July after an extensive makeover), the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum — all free, said Katrina Early of VisitBritain.com.
• Check out Southwest's Companion Pass. If you have 110,000 points or you fly 100 one-way flights, that lets your travel chum fly free. You can even change companions. You don't fly that much? Consider getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card that gives you 50,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in three months. Thanks to Brian Kelly of ThePointsGuy.com for this tip.
Times staff writer Paresh Dave contributed to this report.
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