General advice & booking tips
Long journeys by plane, train or bus are extremely tiring even if you have been asleep the whole way, where possible try and have at least your first night accommodation booked to save unnecessary stress.
Hotel star systems differ worldwide and are not even regulated in most countries, generally more stars merely illustrates more facilities, pretty much disregarding quality. Never expect 3 star hotels to be the same standard from one country to the next, use review websites like trip advisor for a more precise evaluation including location and service quality.
Steer clear of any accommodation located near nightclubs, building sites and train tracks. These produce enough late night / early morning noise to decimate a good night sleep.
Never assume hostels are the bargains there made out to be. Solo backpackers benefit most from dorm beds, depending on the location, groups of two or more can share a hotel room or an entire villa and the price per person could work out similar to a bed in an 8-man dorm, not bad considering the extra privacy, facilities and security.
Be certain of your accommodations check-in and out times, 24hr receptions aren’t always available in fact there are some hotels and hostels that enforce curfews. Majority of the time a curfew is used to keep staff numbers down, others enforce curfews for safety, either way sticking to it is better than getting locked out for the night.
Long term accommodation
Backpackers with a desire to work or spend a length of time in once place should look for a long term accommodation, below explains various methods of finding the right place.
Hostels offer cheap long stays for budget backpackers who don’t mind sharing everything bar their toothbrush. On the good side hostels are great for meeting other likeminded backpackers, on the bad side personal space is lacking and noisy nights are likely. Hostels are best left as short term accommodation when possible unless a gem is found.
Hotels don’t always advertise long stay rates, but enquire and haggle with the right staff to get the best price available. Bargaining power is strongest during low season when rooms can be bartered down by up to 60%.
Renting & Leasing
Renting and leasing are popular choices for those looking for prolonged accommodation. This provides a more stable living arrangement when staying in one place, as ever sharing an apartment, flat or house will reduce costs considerably. Consider any additional costs like utilities and if signing a contract its length, also having a phone number helps no end when dealing with owners / hosts.
The amount and range of properties available to backpackers is growing faster than ever and following suit are the ways to find them. Local estate agents are good for stays from one month to one year, but less flexibility and having to sign a contract puts many off using them. This has led to a massive increase of online middle men who connect owners / hosts with potential customers.
TrustedHousesitters.com is a great way to find free long term accommodation across the globe, but you really need to be comfortable with animals to use this service, as most of the house sits available involve you taking care of the owners beloved pets whilst they are away. For animal lovers looking for low cost, long term accommodation, Trusted Housesitters is a perfect place to start your search. To apply for available house sits you will need to sign up and pay a monthly fee of £6.60 – this helps to verify sitters and is a small amount compared to how much you can save in accommodation costs.
Accommodation costs typically amount to a large percentage of any budget, if backpackers can cut expenditure anywhere it will usually be in this department.
Even those seeking premium accommodation share the desire to grab a bargain, thankfully there are numerous ways travellers can find and book the perfect accommodation for reasonable prices, possibly free.
The top dog for booking accommodation online, trusted and well established Booking.com has a simple reservation system showcasing seemingly endless amounts of properties. They have a lowest price guarantee and many reservations have free cancellation, make 10 bookings over a year to gain ‘Genius’ status which gives an extra 10% discount on many destinations.
Popular space letting website, everything from a spare bed to a castle can be booked on Airbnb. Over a million listings and counting to choose from they provide truly unique accommodation throughout the world for unbelievable rates. Check the T&Cs as cleaning charges and security deposits vary. Airbnb allow hosts to offer price breaks on stays of one week and one month which is a nice feature.
Tripadvisor is one of the best tools for comparing accommodation. More specifically, holiday lettings by Tripadvisor is a promising private lettings website, still lesser to Airbnb apart from the trusted reviews provided by Tripadvisor. Slowly improving as it grows, for the moment it seems most ideal for groups on short to medium length stays.
If you’re looking for a hostel then this is the site for you as Hostelworld.com is the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform. In 2012 it was voted the ‘Most Trusted Hostel-Booking Website’ by over 5000 travellers. With global reach, tons of reviews and a Hostelworld ‘recommends programme’, this is a great site for locating the best value Hostels all around the world.
As the name suggests Homestay.com specialises in, yes you guessed it, homestays! With hosts in over 150 countries this is a brilliant website for locating unique places to stay. In case your not familiar with homestays, they are a type of accommodation where live-in hosts open their homes to travellers. Homestay.com hosts turn ‘a location into a culture, time into experience and strangers into friends’.
A unique way of saving on hotel rooms, airline tickets, car rentals and vacation packages is the ‘Name your price’ bidding service by Priceline.com, travellers select a general location, service level and price, savings of up to 60% can be had but the hotel and/or airline details are only reviled after payment and confirmation after which there is no right to cancel. Priceline also offer Tonight Only and Express deals which are nothing special.
More than simply accommodation these are trust based communities connecting hosts with a spare bed or sofa to guests who want to experience a local lifestyle, terms and conditions of a guest’s stay are usually communicated in advance. No money should change hands unless compensating a host expenses like food or damaged property, it is customary for guests to show appreciation by offering a gift or cooking a meal for hosts.
Many backpackers love this kind of accommodation, they save money and get closer to local cultures. There are of course risks, it’s not recommended for solo female backpackers
Backpackers can stay with locals in any country on earth and experience the world in ways money can’t buy, Couchsurfing has a huge community facilitating not only accommodation, they organize loads of social activities like bar crawls, hikes, and dinners to make new friends, there are also forums where members can find travel partners or advice.
The Hospitality Club
Long-standing but slow growing website thanks to the lacking layout and moderation, it’s similar to a standard forum which connects members to hosts and like-minded travellers.
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