Thursday, October 18, 2012

Frugal Friday: Save Money on Travel

We love to vacation in Branson, MO and typically we go 2-3 times each year.  When we go, we either stay in a vacation home owned by husband's family or my Dad takes care of the travel plans.  I really do not like to book travel plans.  I always wonder if I am making the best possible hotel choice and if I am getting the best rate available.

Last week we made a trip to Branson to attend Homeschool Day at Silver Dollar City and I had to make travel arrangements.  My husband's family vacation home was occupied and my parents were not coming on this trip. 

This made me a nervous wreck and I spent almost an entire day searching multiple travel sites as well as hotel & Branson websites.  I almost purchased a hotel room several times but always ended-up chickening out.  It was so bad, that at one point Connor decided we weren't going on vacation because Mom was too chicken to purchase a hotel room.

I finally found a hotel that I liked at a price that was not bad at  Just as I was about to make a purchase, I noticed their "Top Secret Hotels" and there was a 3 star hotel in Branson, MO listed for $36 a night.  WOW!!  That was more than half off the price of the 2 star hotel that I was about to book so I clicked on it.

Everything looked great except you don't get to see the name or address of the hotel until after you book it.  There are also no refunds or exchanges.  There was some basic hotel information that was provided and I was able to see how the hotel rated on things like cleanliness, child friendly, amenities, etc.

So after some debating and lots of encouragement from Connor, I booked it!  Now, I will admit that purchasing a hotel this way is a gamble and I was a bit nauseous while doing it.  You really don't know what you are getting until it is too late.   I was slightly confident booking this way because I am very familiar with the Branson area and I searched through all of the 3 star Branson hotels on the Travelocity website and I did not find any that I would not be comfortable staying in.  I don't think I would choose a "Top Secret" hotel in a city that I was not familiar with or had never visited.

So, do you want to know how it turned out?

Our "Top Secret" hotel was the Westgate Branson Woods Resort and it was wonderful!!  The rooms were basic which is ok with us because we only sleep there.  However, it did have a mini-fridge & microwave.  The room was also in good condition and very clean.  There were a lot of ammenities like an indoor swimming pool, fitness room, playgrounds, shuffleboard & ping pong.  The only thing it did not offer was a free breakfast but I knew that ahead of time so we planned in advance to eat breakfast at McDonalds.

This resort is also a Time Share and so we were offered a free breakfast and some other freebies to attend a time share presentation.  We politely declined and that was the end of it.

This was a great experience for us and we paid less than $90 ($36 a night + fees & taxes) for a hotel room for 2 nights with 3 people (2 adults & 1 child).

Have you ever booked a hotel or a "Top Secret" hotel with a travel site?  What was your experience?  I would love for you to share your experience (good or bad) in the comments!

This post is linked to:
  • Frugal Friday


  1. I'm glad it worked out so well for you! I've never been quite brave enough to do that although we have friends that have done the same thing with great success!

  2. The only reason I was brave enough to do it was my son was standing behind me chanting "Just click it Mom!!" I am glad to hear that others have had good experiences too. I might even do it again!


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