Hotel bookings...How to get free rooms! Hotel nuances...One year ago, great last photo of Paris...

  
Note the wide beak on this beautiful duck.
There's no magic, coupons or complicated processes required to acquire free hotels nights when traveling.  Its a matter of a few steps to get the process rolling.

We have a link on this website to the right of what you're reading now for Hotels.com.  You may wonder why we suggest you use the link on our site.
Simple answer.  We receive a small commission (very small) for every one of our readers who uses the links on our site.


There were several bodies of water along the edges of the rainforest.
These small commissions help pay a tiny portion of the cost for maintaining our site on a year by year basis.  Using our links does not result in your paying higher prices for products or services than you'd pay going directly to the web addresses for these various companies.  It just helps us in a small way.

For those of you who use our links, we really appreciate you clicking on our site as opposed to clicking somewhere else.  That's all it takes.  We thank our readers for participating in our links.  Also, we have multiple travel related links on our site.  For purposes for today, we're describing one of those which we used yesterday to book a hotel


The most exciting aspect of our rainforest hike was spotting pelicans.
Today, we're going to take you through the necessary steps to acquire free nights in hotels that may work for those who travel only a few times each year:

1.  Click on one of the hotels.com link on the right side of this page.
2.  Sign up for an account saving your user name and password, kept in a safe place.
3.  Feel free to add a credit card to be saved for future use.  This is a secure site and sure, things can happen, but we've felt comfortable doing so. 

If you prefer not to leave a credit card on file at the site, you can add it each time you book a reservation and you'll still receive full credit.  Suggestion for those worried about security:  Talk to your credit card company asking their policy if your card number is stolen.  They will explain that you are not responsible for any charges you did not make. 


A number of ducks hanging out in the freshwater lake at the edge of the rainforest.
Our credit card numbers have been stolen twice in the past three years and has been easily resolved by the credit card company cancelling the old card and immediately shipping us a new card, usually overnight. We were not responsible for any of the unauthorized charges. 

We check all of our credit cards online by setting up a "favorite" with the link.  Every few days we check to be assured that no charges are posted that we didn't make.  It takes less than one minute. 

Most likely, this was the mate of the pelican photos we posted today and yesterday, found in the wild.
Its easy to set up a request with each of your credit and debit cards companies to send you an email each time a charge is made, if you prefer not to check it online.  We live in a world that is high risk for identity theft.  Taking the initiative to ensure your safety and security is entirely up to you.

4.  Once your account is set up, you can proceed to check for hotels entering your preferred dates and location.  If you choose to check at a later date, click on the link on our site to enter to check hotel prices at any time.  Once you stay 10 nights at a hotel you've booked through the site, you get a free night.  Easy.  You can easily access your Rewards status at any time by logging in and selecting the link on the site under "Your Account."

When booking your free night, make sure, once you've selected the hotel and date for the free night, that you check the box that asks if you want to use the Rewards you've accumulated.  Otherwise, your credit card will be billed.

Another unusual palm trunk.
Yesterday, we booked a hotel in Sydney on January 4, 2016 when we'll have flown in from Fiji, spending one night in Sydney until January 5th when we leave on a cruise from Sydney Harbor.

The hotel is near the port, not quite walking distance but no more than a two minute drive.  Most likely the hotel will have a shuttle to the pier.  If not, a minimal taxi fare will get us there.  Our bags are too heavy to haul the several blocks.


Fallen bamboo
Hotels in Sydney are expensive.  Using our Rewards credit toward a free night, which varies depending on how much you've paid for past reservations, required we pay a small amount as shown below in our receipt:


Hotels.com Confirmation Number : 123456789 (number changed for security)  

Booked: Online - Friday, August 14, 2015 3:50:26 PM GMT+10:00    

Booking Details

Guest Name:  Thomas Lyman Room Type: Standard Room, 1 Queen Bed, Non Smoking - Advance Purchase
Check-in: Monday, January 4, 2016Check-out:Tuesday, January 5, 2016Number of Nights:1Number of Rooms:1
Hotel Details: Holiday Inn Old Sydney the Rocks
55 George Street
The Rocks
AU+61292520524

Charges:

USD  $

Monday, January 4, 2016:$248.99 (AUD $337.90)
Hotels.com® Rewards free night applied : -$202.43 (AUD $274.39)
Sub-total:$46.56 (AUD $63.11)
Total Price:$46.56
Amount paid:$46.56
Amount still due:$0.00

The sun peeking through the rainforests at certain times of the day plays an integral role in the growth and development of the forests.
Many hotels booking have the option of choosing a non refundable rate or a fully refundable rate.  If you feels there's a possibility your plans could change, pay the slightly higher amount for the refundable rate.  For us, we always choose the non refundable rate based on our intent of getting the best rates.  This fact is universal on all websites used for booking hotels. 
 
As shown above, yesterday we paid the excess amount, over and above our Hotels.com Rewards credit of US $202.43, AUD $274.39 which was an additional US $46.56, AUD $63.11.  Had the hotel been a lower cost than the US $202.43,  AUD $274.30 we wouldn't have had to pay anything which is usually the case.  But, as mentioned above, Sydney is more expensive than many cities, comparable to rates we paid in Paris and London a year ago.
 
Soon, we'll be booking 10 nights in a hotel in Vietnam to fill in a gap until the upcoming river cruise.  Every 10 nights we book, pay for and use, we've received one free night.  In essence this results in a 10% discount which may not seem like much.  One doesn't receive credit for the free night when its used, only for the paid in full nights.

The grounds of the swampy area were covered with fallen leaves and branches, a suitable habitat for many small creatures.
However, travelers all over the world are booking hotel rooms with no credit. Of course, we always verify that this site is providing us with the best possible price plus...the accumulation of paid nights for an eventual free night.
 
If you have questions or need assistance with this, please comment at the end of today's post.  We will reply and share our combined comments with our other readers who may have the same questions.
 
We may not stay in any more hotels in a year than the average traveler.  It may, in fact, be less often.  We spend most of our nights in vacation homes or on cruises. 

A considerable part of rainforests consists of swampy areas.
Most years we don't spend more than four or five nights in a hotel, usually between cruises or for long flights such as is coming up when we fly to Sydney, staying overnight in a hotel and flying the Fiji the next day.  Otherwise, we'd have had to wait at the airport for 10 hours, not our cup of tea.  
 
Whenever we encounter the possibility of knowingly spending more than eight hours in an airport awaiting a flight, we opt for a hotel stay, always considering our objective of reducing the possibility of travel stress.  With easy hotel check-in and checkout these days, this usually makes sense for us.

Trunk of a species of palm tree in the rainforest.
How picky are we in choosing hotels? Here's our criteria for selecting hotels:
1.  Location:  Convenient to modes of transportation, next flight, cruise pier and activities we plan
2.  Reviews: In most cases we don't select anything under four stars unless its a short overnight stay awaiting a flight or cruise.  In these cases, we'll consider a 3.5 star.  As in the above stated reservation, its list as a 4.5 star (out of a possible 5 stars).  (Cleanliness and good repair are indicated in the star ratings).
3.  Availability of wifi: Preferably free although at times we've paid a fee when other good options weren't available.
4.  Bed options:  Tom and I do fine in a queen bed and for short stays that works fine.  In many vacation homes, including here, we only have a double bed and somehow we make that work.  However, we'd never chose that option in a hotel which may indicate a lack of replacing the beds and poor updating and maintenance.  In many countries bed size is a cultural thing.  We don't expect king beds as we travel.

Pelicans are beautiful up close.  Little do we realize their exquisite markings when seeing them at a beach.
Of course, there are many amenities we prefer such as complimentary coffee and tea service in the room, an on site restaurant when we'll be dining.  On single night hotel stays a restaurant is less important to us when we its nothing to us to miss an meal.
 
(I don't eat breakfast except on cruises and when at a vacation home, Tom has a small serving of a bacon and egg casserole I make and freeze in packets of three servings which we defrost one package at a time.  Neither of us cares for lunch, even while cruising. Our way of eating causes a tremendous lack of appetite and we chose to eat only when hungry). 
 
This life of travel requires a tremendous amount of work and planning.  For us, we enjoy the planning and details.  If we didn't plan well in advance life could be chaotic at times, a situation we prefer to avoid at all costs and efforts.

An ibis pecking on the grounds near the rainforest.
Neither of us succumbs to drama and chaos.  Luckily, our personality types have grown to a point of avoiding confrontation, instead kindly asking for what we need and want.  Complaining is not a part of who we are. 
 
If we book a hotel and don't like it, we express our views in a review.  If our room isn't clean or appropriate, we'd kindly ask for another (which rarely occurs when booking 4 stars or more).  If we booked a hotel for a longer term, we explain why we don't like it and work toward a refund after we've found other options.  (This hasn't happened).

Please feel free to ask any questions regarding this topic (or another topic if preferred) by commenting at the end of today's post.  You may do so anonymously if you'd prefer.  We don't see your email address and can only reply to you here.  We usually respond within 12 hours.   We love hearing from our readers!

Have a fun filled weekend!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2014:

We both smiled when we downloaded this photo.  Its so Paris!  Two weeks was a long time to spend in Paris and we were ready to head to London the next day, traveling on the Eurostar (the Chunnel train), excited for the first time experience of traveling  under the English Channel on a train.  For more photos, please click here.

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