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There are a lot of accommodation options available for when you travel. It can sometimes be hard to know where to start. In this post we’ll break down the most common accommodation options for travellers, and give you some tips on how and when to book.
Here are the main options for accommodation that we’d use.
As we like to travel on a budget, hostels are probably the most common option that we choose when we travel.
Hostels are particularly good if you’re looking to meet fellow travellers. This can be either as a group or if you’re travelling solo. They’re particularly popular among solo travellers, and it’s generally really easy to meet people, provided that you pick a good hostel.
You can either stay in a dorm room (which can be anywhere from 3 to over 20 people), or book into a single or double private room for a little extra money.
We always use Hostelworld to search for hostels and book online, and it seems to be the easiest and most popular hostel booking site. How far in advance you book really depends on where you go. In Europe throughout July and August, it’s definitely advisable to book at least two weeks in advance (or more if you want to stay at a popular hostel). In other parts of the world, you can easily book the day before or even on the day and not have too much trouble.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of extra money, or are getting tired of staying in hostels, it’s worth booking into a hotel for a few nights.
Depending on where you are, prices for hotels vary dramatically. Some places in Europe can be quite expensive. Asia is super cheap. South America is somewhere in between.
Hotels aren’t so great for meeting people, but they are really good if you just need a break and to relax for a few days.
We usually use booking.com to search for and book any hotels. Be sure to read the reviews and check the location before you book. You generally don’t have to book too far in advance, although it can be cheaper if you do.
An alternative to staying in a hotel that’s generally a lot cheaper. Airbnb is a service that lets home or apartment owners let out either a room in their home or the entire a home.
We think Airbnb is a great option for somewhere to stay in bigger cities (ie Paris, London, Berlin). It’s also a really good option if you’re booking somewhere a bit remote where there might not be many hotel or hostel options.
Airbnb is great in that you generally get full kitchen and washing facilities as well. So as well as being cheaper than a hotel, you can save even more money by eating in or saving money on laundry facilities.
To book an Airbnb, you need to sign up to the website. You then search the website for accommodation, and when you find something send a request to the owner for the dates you require. They’ll generally get back to you within a day to let you know if you can stay. Because of this wait, it’s generally advisable to book a week or more in advance, and further if you’re going somewhere popular.
Keep in mind that owners and travellers are both rated, and the better rating you have the more easily you will be able to book accommodation.
If you’re on a super tight budget, couch surfing is probably the most budget way that you can travel.
It’s a community of people sharing their couches for accommodation, free of charge. Yep, for free. You don’t have to pay anything, although you’re generally expected to do something like buy a bottle of wine or cook your host a nice dinner one night.
Couch surfing is a little more difficult to do, as you have to complete a full profile and then become verified for the best chance of finding anywhere to stay. It can also be harder to find places to stay when you want, and you might have to send out quite a few requests before you do find anything.
Users are reviewed when they stay with someone or meet someone, so you can always see a persons reviews before you request to stay. The majority of people that we’ve talked to who have used couch surfing have never had any issues, and quite often end up striking up a great friendship with the people they stay with. We have heard the odd creepy story of girls getting odd requests from guys to go and stay with them, but we’re not too sure how common that is, and it’s something that you can generally just ignore.
Saying all of that, we think couch surfing is definitely something to keep in mind. Even if you don’t use it for a place to stay, the site also organises meet-ups and activities at different times, which are great to check out and a good way to meet people.
To sign up, head to couchsurfing.com and start filling out your profile.
Camping and Caravan Parks
Unless you have all your gear with you, camping is probably a little difficult when you’re travelling overseas.
However, lots of places have camp grounds and caravan parks that have tents already set up, or small cabins that you can rent. It’s usually very basic accommodation, and because of that is often a really cheap option. As an example, we stayed at a camp ground when we were in Venice, in a small cabin, for less than €10 a night.
If you’re going to stay, just be sure to check the facilities first, to make sure you’ll have things like power and hot water if you need them. Unless you’re in Europe in peak season, you should be ok to book a week or less in advance.
Home stays are a great way to go if you want to get a bit more of a feel for the people and culture of where you go.
They’re generally quite cheap (think not much more expensive than a hostel), and will often include your own room and maybe 1-2 meals a day.
From our experience, home stays are popular things to do particularly in Asia and South America. In Asia home stays tend to be shorter term (a few days), to get an insight into the culture. In South America, many people do home stays from 1-4 weeks in duration, combining them with Spanish lessons as a way to practice and improve their Spanish skills (which are definitely needed if you are over there for a while!).
Finding a homestay is generally as simple as a google search of homestay + wherever you are going to.
While we wouldn’t really go from place to place doing home stays, they’re a great way to meet locals and get a better idea of the culture of wherever you are. You can generally organise them just a few weeks in advance.
It’s not something that we’ve done (yet), but WWOOFing is quite a common thing to do for many budget travellers.
WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms. It’s a program where you volunteer to go and work on an organic farm in return for accommodation, food, and learning about a new way of life.
Once you sign up, you negotiate how long you are going to stay with the host. From what we’ve heard, 1-4 weeks is the most common timeframe. You have to organise all of your own transport, visas, and it’s worth asking about mobile and internet reception before you go.
Again, it’s not something that we’d go from place to place doing as a means of travel. But it’s worth keeping in mind, as it could be a great experience and something a little different to do for a week or two. Being something that’s negotiated with a host, you will need to organise it a little way in advance.
To get started, head to the WWOOF website and sign up.
Are there any other accommodation options you use? Let us know!
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- Tips for finding a good hostel
- Tips for booking cheap flights
- The best credit and travel cards to use overseas (if you’re an Aussie)
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