If you’re anything like us, then the type of accommodation you look for changes day to day. We are budget travelers first and foremost, so finding a place to stay that is nice, but also inexpensive is always a winning combo! That said, depending on where we’re going, whether we’re traveling with friends, looking to “splash out” and treat ourselves, or seeking somewhere that will allow us to meet locals and be immersed in local experiences, the type of accommodation we seek and the methods we use to search for a place to stay can vary greatly. Before booking accommodation for your upcoming trip, take a look at these 5 factors you should always consider!
Save Money By Looking At The Right Websites & Apps
Accommodation is one of the biggest fixed costs of traveling and reducing that cost can save you a ton of money! When looking to save on your next booking it pays off to do research ahead of time and be on the lookout for special deals and promotions. Sites like Airbnb will give you massive savings on your first booking when you create a new account. You can use this link to receive $33 off your first stay!
Another great way to save on lodging through sites like Agoda and Hotels.com is to always search for places to stay directly through their app. These companies automatically apply a special discount code to your booking when you search through the app rather than through a web browser (helps build brand loyalty for them). Instant saving is always a win!
If hostels are more your thing, which let’s be honest, they should be if you’re looking to travel for as little as possible, then searching on sites like Hostelworld and Agoda will be the easiest way to find a place that is right for you. We use Hostelworld practically everywhere we travel and are amazed by the number of hostels available in most of the places we visit. That said, there are times where the same property will be listed on the Agoda app for less and naturally, we go with the cheaper option for the same room and book through Agoda 🙂
Pro Tip: If you are a traveling twosome like we are, then be sure to always check the prices of private doubles (if that is an option) vs. booking two dorm beds. Sometimes, a private room is cheaper than booking two separate dorm beds. In countries where negotiating the price of a room is common, you will probably get a better deal if you wait and haggle a bit once you arrive (that is if you’re a sharp negotiator 😉 ) Otherwise, prices are typically cheaper when you book online ahead of time.
Know What Type Of Area You’re Visiting (And How To Book Accordingly)
Depending on where you’re going the methods and tools at your disposal for finding accommodation are going to be different. For example, when traveling in a big city you are going to have a much greater pool of places to choose from and a large arsenal of resources that you can use to find a place to stay. Hostelworld, Agoda, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Airbnb, and other major booking sites will more than likely have options that will suit your fancy.
From our experience, booking at least one nights lodging when traveling to a big city is the best way to go. Sure, there are usually hundreds, maybe even thousands of places available to stay in a big city on any given night, but booking one night ahead of time is still the best option. Why? Because if you’re new to the city and don’t know your way around it can be daunting, time-consuming, and often an expensive task to get dropped off and find a reasonable place to stay for the night. Not to say it can’t be done.
On the flip side, in a small town, on an island, or in remote areas you may find that many local guesthouses and hotels don’t have their rooms listed online. In such cases, it is usually cheaper and more rewarding (in terms of local experiences) to throw caution to the wind and wait to find a place to stay until after you have arrived. This is what we did upon arriving in Perhentian Kecil where most properties don’t have wifi and aren’t listed online! Arrive early if you can, and make your priority stopping into as many places as you can until you find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs (or close enough anyway 😉 ). You will be amazed by the affordability that such places usually offer.
Keep In Mind The Type Of Room You’re Looking For
Taking the time to think about what type of room (dorm, private room, private villa, etc.) best suits you and where you’re at in your adventures will ensure you and those you stay with have the best time possible. There’s nothing worse than trying to relax at a loud and lively hostel, and although it is okay to do your own thing, no one particularly cares for the antisocial person staying in their dorm room either.
When we travel long-term, the type of accommodation we seek largely depends on the type of mood we’re in. Most of the time we want to meet new people, so we opt to stay in dorms at the friendliest looking hostel we can find. Other times though, we just want to be alone which usually means getting our own Airbnb/guest house or finding a quiet hotel or private room in a hostel where we can decompress and enjoy our own company for a while. Believe it or not, you can get burnt out from traveling!
Decide If You’d Like To Party Or Relax
In the immortal words of Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa “living young, and wild, and free” is a mantra that many travelers in their teens, 20’s, 30’s… heck even 60’s adopt. Traveling is about new experiences, meeting new people, and having the time of your life. So, for many, that means enjoying the party scene in the places you visit and making new friends that you can laugh the nights away with. If you know you are going to want to go bar hopping and do a bit of partying, then it’s a good idea to find a place to stay that is close to the party scene. It is so much easier to just walk back to your room rather than trying to haggle your way back home in a taxi at 3 in the morning. As we learned in Bali, taxi drivers have a lot more leverage in that situation and you’ll probably end up paying more than you want to.
You can also consider staying at a dedicated “party hostel” which are common in cities and destinations where a night of partying is the norm. These places are great because they typically facilitate a lot of fun activities and drinking games to help break the ice and create a fun social vibe. From pub crawls, to beer pong tournaments, to “lady’s night” where women (and men in women’s clothing) drink free, party hostels are great for meeting new friends and letting loose for a night or two by planting yourself right in the middle of the party. Our first party hostel experience was at the Tipsy Tiger in Georgetown, Penang. We highly recommend that you check this place out if you are ever in Penang. Say hi to the owner, Alex, for us 😉
If you want to stay at a hostel, but are just trying to relax and get a good night’s sleep (without your fellow dorm mates waking you up at all hours of the night) be sure to search for hostels that advertise a more mellow atmosphere and are not described as “party hostels”. Typically, they are pretty good at indicating which end of the spectrum they fall on in their listing. Getting your own hotel room or Airbnb are always good options too!
Consider Staying With Locals
Let’s be honest, meeting locals and immersing yourself in the culture of the country you are visiting is what traveling is all about, but it is not always easy when you are staying in places that mostly cater to tourists. Luckily, there are several awesome sites out there that can help you connect with locals.
Couchsurfing is one of the longest standing and most user-friendly sharing economy travel websites out there. As the name suggests, Couchsurfing is a site that allows you to find locals willing to take guests into their homes free of charge. No matter what your tastes may be, one thing every traveler has in common is that they don’t want to pay a fortune for accommodation, so staying with someone who lives where you’re going can be a great option.
Many of the users who take in guests are fellow travelers themselves who use the site on their own adventures around the world to get off the tourist trail, connect with locals, and save money by getting free accommodation wherever they go. As you can imagine this site is very popular with travelers and hosts typically get inundated with requests from people looking for a place to stay, so it is important that you take the time to make your account appealing and adopt an approach that showcases the best possible you. If you want some expert advice on how to start succeeding with this site and others like it then check out Nomadic Matt’s post on How to Crush it on Couchsurfing.
You can also find a lot of great opportunities to surround yourself with locals by booking a room in someone’s home through Airbnb. When searching on this site you can filter results by “Shared Rooms”, “Private Rooms”, or “Entire Homes/Apartments”. By filtering out the “Entire Homes/Apartments” category you will find a lot more opportunities to stay in someone’s actual home while they are there. This can be a great way to get to know a local family. Who knows, maybe they will like you enough to show you around town, share a meal with you, and/or become a lifelong friend!
The next time you hit the road, consider these 5 things to save money and ensure you’re getting the experience that’s right for you. Not all accommodations are created equal, so taking the time to determine what type of situation best suits you will help guarantee that you have the best time possible on your adventures.
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