How to Find Affordable Accomodations
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to save on flights recently because they tend to take up a huge portion of the travel budget. Next on the list is finding affordable accommodations. Luckily, it’s not too difficult with the different kinds and booking tools available! Part of choosing the place that’s best for your needs is knowing the different choices you have.
Booking.com is my preferred website for booking accommodations abroad because it lists many different options in one place. It also has a huge variety of ways to filter your search results so you can find the right accommodation for your preferences and budget.
B&Bs, Guesthouses, and Pensions
Depending on which part of the world you’re in, you’ll see the names vary for these types of accommodations. Typically these are smaller, many times family-run, places where you can get a private room, very similar to a hotel. You may share a bathroom with another room or two, but they do a good job of making sure it’s limited so there’s less likelihood of a traffic jam. Sometimes they come with breakfast, especially in the British Isles, and it should be listed when you book.
When my husband and I travel together, we typically choose this type of accommodation or a private room in a hostel. Even in the more expensive countries, you can usually find a comfortable place like this for less than $100 per night.
What typically comes to mind for most people when I talk about hostels is either the horror movie or some version of floor to ceiling bunk beds, all night parties, and no sleep. Yes, you can definitely find the latter experience, but there are SO many other variations that provide crazy affordable accommodation options!
When I travel alone, I will usually look for a hostel that offers female only dorms. It’s a great way to meet other travelers and I’ve even maintained friendships with some of the women I’ve met over the years! If I’m traveling with my husband or friends, we’ll look for private rooms in a hostel. Usually, this means you’ll share a bathroom, but if you look for “ensuite” in the description, this means you’ll have your own.
Hostelworld.com is a great place to look and there are a ton of ways to filter your results so you find the right place for your experience. Many times you can also find B&B style accommodations listed as well, so I will usually check this site in addition to booking.com.
I always read reviews! Not usually more than five minutes worth, but a few to get an idea of what people are saying. Depending on the type of experience you’d like to have, you can look for certain things. If you want a fun, party place to meet people then anywhere that advertises a bar on-site or pub crawls will probably be right up your alley. If that’s not your style, look for a place with lower ratings for “atmosphere”. Read the reviews, but many times this means it’s quiet and not big on the social scene.
Apartments and Vacation Homes
With the rise of Airbnb and VRBO, renting an apartment or house has become more popular and can be a great option! You can also find apartments listed on Booking.com, which makes it my one-stop shop. Not all cities allow these, so I’ll simply search for “vacation rentals in *destination* and see what comes up.
Like any other accommodation choice, there’s a huge variety available here as well. From private rooms in the host’s apartment to four bedroom houses a family or group can have to themselves, these options have some built-in convenience. You always have a kitchen, which is nice for making coffee or cooking a meal. Grocery shopping in a new place is part of the fun for me, and cooking on your own can save a ton of money if you’re on a budget.
You can always find hotels that are familiar and comfortable. Most of the major brand you’re used to seeing, Marriott, Best Western, Holiday Inn, etc. can be found outside of the United States. One that’s usually really reasonably priced and still offers the traditional hotel experience is the Hotel Ibis brand.
Just like any other accommodation type, there’s a wide range of price ranges to choose from. In my experience, this option tends to be toward the upper end of the spectrum. Many times you can find great deals when the hotels are packaged with flights. Groupon has a special section for these types of offerings. I haven’t used them myself, but have friends who grabbed some pretty great deals!
For my fellow nature lovers and super budget travelers, this is an amazing option in Europe! Camping works best if you’re planning to rent a car and see the countryside since there are only a couple of cities that have campgrounds near the center. The campgrounds in Europe are really nice – showers, laundry, etc. – and really affordable. The most expensive one to date was in Denmark, where everything is more expensive, and was still only about $35 for the night! Typically you can get a tent site for $20 or less.
Making Your Decision
When choosing accommodations, the factors to consider are typically location, amenities, and price. There’s usually an option for every configuration of these three things. Sometimes you can find a great place that’s reasonably priced, but it’s a little outside the city center. If there’s a subway, tram, or bus line nearby, then it might not matter and you can get a great deal!
I hope you can see how many different options you have for finding accommodation that’s going to enhance the amazing travel experience you want to create! It definitely takes a little research, but once you know what to look for you’ll be surprised at the cool places you can find.
Now get out there, the world is waiting for you!