Orlando Trip Planning Part 2: Always Book Last Minute Hotels (At Least in Florida!)

Orlando cartoon map postcard

Today’s Orlando trip planning blog post is all how I successfully landed the cheapest 3-star hotel reservation!

So I’m writing this after having already gone on my milestone birthday trip to Orlando, Florida… even though this blog post is all about planning for the trip (more specifically, booking our hotel, with another post on renting a car coming soon!).

But part of the reason as to why I didn’t get around to blogging about this until after my trip? It’s because I didn’t book our Orlando accommodation (and rental car) until the day before we left! And there’s a reason for that (you’ll just have to keep reading to find out why).

In part 1, I discussed why you should book domestic flights within the U.S. through JetBlue because that’s your best bet for the lowest price in airfare. This is especially true for Canadians like myself who live in Toronto. If at all possible, always opt to fly domestic by driving to a nearby American city like Buffalo, New York instead of flying international from somewhere in Canada. You’ll potentially save hundreds of dollars!

Based on past experiences from booking our last trip to Orlando in 2009, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks on how to get the guaranteed lowest prices on hotels and car rentals in Orlando. As a result, we traveled a lot smarter this time around!

The secret to booking Orlando travel reservations at the cheapest prices: There are always more hotels or rental cars available than can ever be consumed!

Orlando is like Las Vegas (but for kids!). The entire city is pretty much 100% dependent on the tourist industry. As a result, you’ve got roads like U.S. Highway 192 (a.k.a. the Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway)… where you’ll find the same group of restaurants, hotels, tacky gift shops, gas stations and 24/7 drug stores repeated 5… 6… 7 or more times at practically every other traffic light!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. Take a look for yourself below.

Map of section of US Highway 192 in Kissimmee Florida

Map showing section of U.S. Highway 192 in Kissimmee (by Orlando, Florida)

Close up map of businesses at US Highway 192 in Kissimmee Florida

Close-up map of a section of US Highway 192 in Kissimmee, Florida… plus a sample list of the types of stores, restaurants and hotels that can be found along the road

And this is just Kissimmee! There are other tourism hot spots surrounding Orlando, Florida that are equally overpopulated with hotels and other types of businesses that exist mainly to cater to tourists. Such abundance just means one thing: It is virtually impossible for every hotel room and rental car in Orlando, Florida to ever be completely, 100% booked on any given day.

To prove this theory, let’s take a look at my latest trip to Orlando… which happened to coincide with the 4th of July long weekend, right smack in the middle of the summer and high season for traveling. So to book a hotel over a 4-night stay across that entire long weekend? You would think that accommodation or car rental prices would be at the highest possible rates (or close to the highest, anyway). You would also assume that of all days in the year, this would be the time period with the highest possibility for all hotels and car rentals to be fully booked.

However, this was not the case for our trip. How do I know this? Because I waited until the night before our trip to book both our hotel and rental car in Orlando… and I ended up paying the lowest prices that I’ve ever spent on travel bookings in my entire life (and as you’re likely aware, we’re no spring chickens when it comes to traveling!).

And I’m not talking some 1-star hole-in-the-wall motel that’s located all the way by the airport or in a seedy neighborhood, either! Nor am I talking about renting a car from an unknown company linked to numerous bad reviews online… one without a legitimate pickup location within Orlando’s MCO airport but rather is situated off-site and accessible only by shuttle bus (I’m talking about you, Payless Car Rental!).

The class level that I’m talking about? Purely on the level of 3-star hotels and rental cars from a well-known nationwide retail chain store.

Want the scoop on how we struck jackpot, landing the cheapest rates on Orlando hotels and car rentals?

If yes, then choose a topic by selecting one of the following symbols…

  • Click the Hotel Symbol (i.e. Continue Reading): To find out how we booked our Orlando accommodations at dirt cheap prices
  • Click the Car Rental Symbol (i.e. stay tuned, because this post isn’t actually live yet!): To read an upcoming blog post on how we discovered the absolute lowest cost for trustworthy car rental service in Florida
  • Click the Airplane Symbol: To go back and read my last blog post on how we landed dirt cheap plane tickets to Orlando via JetBlue

Read about discovering the cheapest 3-star hotel in Orlando Read about discovering the cheapest reliable car rental service in Orlando Read about discovering the cheapest flight to Orlando

Comparing the lowest daily rates for last minute Orlando hotels on travel booking websites

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t end up booking our hotel reservation in Orlando until the day before we left. But I wasn’t scared, because I knew it would be impossible for every hotel to be fully booked in Orlando… even during a 4th of July long weekend.

And it paid off beautifully. But not without doing a lot of research first! Because in order to ensure I would get the cheapest rate possible for our Orlando hotel reservations (and for the highest class-level of accommodations!), I did my due diligence and researched the lowest prices for Orlando hotels at every major travel booking site.

It’s because of all that research that I’m 100% convinced I paid the cheapest rate possible for quality 3-star accommodations in Orlando. And yes, that last part about it being a 3-star hotel is important. Because even though I’m frugal, that doesn’t mean I don’t have standards (no way would I live in a 1-star motel with known cases of bedbugs)!

Let me prove to you what I mean visually through website screenshot images.

(Note: Many of these screen captures show prices in CAD $. That’s because I’m Canadian! But don’t worry, with the current exchange rate as it stands today? The rates are pretty much interchangeable between Canadian and U.S. dollars.)

1) Discount last minute hotels on Expedia
Expedia Canada - Lowest price Orlando hotels

Website screenshot image illustrating the lowest prices for 1-star, 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotels available on Expedia.ca

Lowest Price Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Expedia
1 1/2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Expedia
1 1/2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Expedia
2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
3-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Expedia
3 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$50
2) Discount last minute hotels on Hotels.com
Lowest price last minute Orlando hotels on Hotels.com

Website screenshot image illustrating the lowest prices for 1-star, 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotels available on Hotels.com

Lowest Price Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Hotels.com
1 1/2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotels.com
1 1/2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotels.com
2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
3-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotels.com
3 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$88
3) Discount last minute hotels on Hotwire
Lowest price last minute Orlando hotels on Hotwire

Website screenshot image illustrating the lowest prices for 1-star, 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotels available on Hotwire

Lowest Price Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Hotwire
1-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotwire
1 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$24
2 1/2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotwire
2 1/2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
3-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Hotwire
3 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$36
4) Discount last minute hotels on Priceline
Lowest price Orlando hotels via Priceline

Website screenshot image illustrating the lowest prices for 1-star, 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotels available on Priceline

Lowest Price Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Priceline
1-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Priceline
1 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$27
2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Priceline
2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$30
3-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Priceline
3 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$73
5) Discount last minute hotels on Travelocity
Lowest price last minute Orlando hotels on Travelocity

Website screenshot image illustrating the lowest prices for 1-star, 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotels available on Travelocity.ca

Lowest Price Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Travelocity
1-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Travelocity
1 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$59
2-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Travelocity
2 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$40
3-star last minute Orlando hotel price at Travelocity
3 ★
Lowest Price
Last Minute Orlando Hotel Rate
$55
Conclusions

When you compare across all major travel booking sites, these are the lowest daily rates available for booking Orlando accommodations at the last minute (a.k.a. the night before)

Those deals look pretty darn good, don’t they? But let me show you how to go even lower than that!

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels: Your Best Bet for the Cheapest Daily Rate on Last Minute 3+ Star Orlando Hotels!

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels website screenshot image

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels: How I landed the absolute cheapest rates on 3+ star accommodations in Orlando!

So here’s my secret to landing the absolute cheapest daily rate for last minute accommodations in Orlando: Travelocity’s “Top Secret Hotels”.

If you’ll just follow along, I’ll show you how I came to discover this dream hotel booking site for any frugal traveler!

Absolute cheapest daily rate last minute Orlando hotels via Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels
Travelocity Top Secret Hotels

The easy way to save up to 55% on top 3-star or 4-star hotels!

To start, click that banner ad above and it’ll take you to Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels page. For example, I selected Orlando, Florida and landed on the following page…

Cheapest rate last minute Orlando hotels via Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels

Website screenshot image illustrating the absolute cheapest daily rate for last minute Orlando hotels available via Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels

Although the Top Secret Hotels offer applies mostly to 3-star or 4-star accommodations, there are a couple 2-star hotels included in the list. Here are the cheapest rates I was able to find for a 2-star or 3-star last minute Orlando hotel…

Cheapest Last Minute Orlando Hotels via Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels
2-star cheapest last minute Orlando hotel price via Travelocity Top Secret Hotels
2 ★
Cheapest Last Minute
Orlando Hotel Rate
$26
3-star cheapest last minute Orlando hotel price via Travelocity Top Secret Hotels
3 ★
Cheapest Last Minute
Orlando Hotel Rate
$19

No, you’re not seeing things. That is indeed the actual daily rate for a last minute 3-star Orlando hotel booking via Travelocity’s “Top Secret Hotels” discount offer. And that’s taking into account the fact that this was for the 4th of July long weekend… for the day before our actual stay in Orlando!

Although one of the reasons why Travelocity is willing to offer such a discounted rate is because you’re not given the name of the actual hotel until you’ve confirmed your booking and paid for the hotel. Nevertheless, this wasn’t a deterrent for us because we knew we were going to be renting a car in Orlando anyway, so it’s not like we needed to have the hotel be situated by public transit or in a downtown area or anything like that. Just knowing the fact that the hotel will be located in Kissimmee was good enough for us, considering how tourist-friendly U.S. Highway 192 and downtown Kissimmee is (as mentioned above).

Also, knowing in advance that the hotel was rated at a 3-star class level and featured amenities like a swimming pool and business center? Those factors were enough to assure me that I wasn’t getting some dive motel.

And lastly, even knowing that particular 3-star hotel was going to charge an additional $10/day as a mandatory “resort fee” (which, after doing a bit of research, I realize was a common fee added to all resort accommodations in Orlando, Florida)? That didn’t deter me either. In fact, that further convinced me that this was the right hotel to book… because it wasn’t just a hotel, it was officially classified as a resort. That just further confirms that this wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall motel!

Plus, if you were to compare the total cost for booking this 3-star Orlando hotel via Travelocity’s “Top Secret Hotels” discount offer (even taking into account the extra $10/day resort fee)… it’s still cheaper than the previously researched lowest price for a 3-star last minute Orlando hotel booked via Hotwire!

Here, take a look for yourself…

Comparing the cheapest TOTAL prices for booking 4-night, 3-star last minute Orlando hotels via…
…1) Travelocity’s “Top Secret Hotels”

Review and Continue page for booking the cheapest 3-star last minute Orlando hotel via Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels

Website screenshot of the illustrating the TOTAL price for booking 4 nights at the cheapest 3-star last minute Orlando hotel rate via Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels Total Cost
= ($19.03 Daily Rate x 4) + $11.96 Total Taxes + $40.60 Total Resort Fee
= $128.68

…vs. 2) Hotwire

Detailed screenshot image of the lowest price 3-star last minute Orlando hotel via Hotwire

Website screenshot illustrating the TOTAL price for booking 4 nights at the lowest price 3-star last minute Orlando hotel rate via Hotwire

Hotwire Total Cost
= ($36.12 Daily Rate x 4) + $24.65 Total Taxes
=
$169.13

So that’s that. I mean, the math pretty much speaks for itself (obviously, $128.68 is cheaper than $169.13!).

Without a doubt, it was a no-brainer for me to book that 3-star resort hotel via Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels… even with that extra $10/day resort fee!

After doing all that research, I do believe I can safely say I landed the absolute, bottom of the barrel, cheapest daily rate for a 3-star hotel in Orlando, Floridabar none!

Drum roll, please! Time for the big reveal on which 3-star Orlando resort was listed at $19/night via Travelocity’s “Top Secret Hotels”…

Aaaaaaaaaaand the secret hotel in question? That would be the Maingate Lakeside Resort!

Travelocity Top Secret Hotels big reveal - Maingate Lakeside Resort in Orlando

Website screenshot image of the “top secret hotel” that I ended up booking in Orlando, Florida…. the Maingate Lakeside Resort!

Seeing how I’ve already gone on my trip as I write this, I can officially confirm that my husband and I were more than pleased with our choice of accommodations in Orlando. The place is huge, and it really was quite nice.

Here’s a panoramic image of the resort taken from the official website. Enjoy!

Maingate Lakeside Resort panoramic view

Gorgeous panoramic view of the 3-star Maingate Lakeside Resort that we stayed at while vacationing in Orlando, Florida

Next up?

A blog post on how we landed the cheapest rate for quality car rental service in Orlando! Stay tuned…

Cheers!

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Director of Search Marketing by day, die hard knitter by night. Stylishly domestic homemaker. 50% frugalholic, 50% shopaholic. Supporter of buying handmade & one of a kind goods by local artisans. Geek girl who ❤s computer nerds. Blogger for the Knitting and Purling blog!
Orlando, Florida cartoon map postcard image courtesy of Zazzle.ca. Map images of U.S. Highway 192 courtesy of DocStoc.com and Kissimmee-US192.com. Hotel, car rental and airplane symbols courtesy of StopSignsAndMore.com. Screenshots, logos and banner images for Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Priceline and Travelocity courtesy of Expedia.ca, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Priceline.com and Travelocity.ca. Screenshot and panoramic image of Maingate Lakeside Resort courtesy of MaingateLakesideResort.com. Computer graphics edited by the Knitting and Purling blog.

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