The accommodation we choose can make or break our holidays. Get it wrong, and you could find yourself sleeping in a draughty, bug-ridden room miles away from any major landmarks.
As well as comfort and convenience, it's also important to consider price. Hotels blow a massive hole in our vacation budgets, and it's often because we rush into booking the first suite that catches the eye instead of taking the time to properly run through our options.
Here are our top tips for finding some affordable holiday digs.
1. Check-in late
Admittedly, there are some circumstances for which last-minute check-ins are ill-advised. Let's say you're heading to Russia for this summer's World Cup, for instance. The level of demand in and around the host cities is so high that you'd need to have booked several months ago to secure a room.
Generally speaking, though, showing up a couple of hours before the front desk closes and inquiring about any rooms going spare is a great way to pinch the pennies. Suites are bound to be cheaper late at night because of lower demand (and you save on any advance reservation fees too).
2. Speak to the right people
It seems obvious, but then first-time hotel guests are often encouraged to call reservation numbers instead of speaking to the men and women manning the front desk. This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons: one, they won't be able to satisfactorily answer any queries you may have about your suite, and two, they don't have the authority to give you a complimentary upgrade.
Where possible, always call the hotel and book your room directly.
3. Apps are your friend
Third party apps and websites are becoming an increasingly important tool in the arsenal of travellers, especially when it comes to finding cheap accommodation at short notice.
While they can be impenetrable to the novice, the advantages are manifold.
For one thing, you will get up-to-the-minute alerts on any sudden price drops, allowing you to beat your competition to the punch when a good deal springs up.
You can also browse through reliable user reviews to ensure the service that a hotel provides is up to the standard that you require for your trip (this is a massive plus point if you're planning a long-term stay).
As a starting point, we recommend dowloading HotelTonight, HostelWorld and Trivago - and make sure you sign up for all the discount perks they have to offer too.
4. Consider self-catered options
We get it: holidays are supposed to be an opportunity to put your feet up and relax in front of the swimming pool. Nobody wants to be slaving away over a hot stove.
But there are big savings to be made here. By opting for self-catered accommodation - "apart hotels", as they are sometimes called on the continent - you can save hundreds on your trip, as well as giving you more flexibility over when and what you eat.
Remember: you can always head out to a local restaurant if you're feeling lazy.
We've been trained by the media to associate coupons with minor savings on things like baked beans and frozen pizza - but, if you're looking in the right place, there are much grander means for which they can be put to use.
Websites like Coupon.com and DealsPlus.com provide visitors with special discount codes for third-party hotel-booking websites. They seldom come without caveats: use by this date, only on stays of more than two weeks, and so on - but if you're flexible about your travel times, you should be able to find one that works for you.