Finding a Place to Stay While Traveling
Finding a place to stay in a foreign country might seem overwhelming and you might think your only option is a ritzy hotel. However, I’m writing this post to show you how I usually find accommodations for my trips.
Typically, even before I book a flight, I’ll quickly look up how much various items cost in that country. First, I give a quick glance to various accommodation booking websites. This could be Trivago, AirBnB, HostelWorld, HostelRocket, or a quick google search. I’ll also look up any national holidays or festivals to see if there are budget locations near the festival sites.
Below are the core choices you have for accommodations. I’ll delve more into them a little further below:
Hotels are the go-to for some travelers and usually the most expensive. While traveling to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this was the best option since Hostels and AirBnB’s were just as expensive as a 4-star hotel. If you’re looking for certain amenities (ie. a pool, a spa, restaurants, etc) then a hotel is probably the best bet.
Housesitting are something that I have zero-experience with. If you’re in love with a certain city or country, you could use MindMyHouse, TrustedHomesitters, and other websites to find a place to live & take care of for a few weeks. Some of these housesitting gigs also pay!
I’ve been a fan of AirBnB since I first heard about them before my first trip abroad to Europe in 2012. AirBnB has provided me with low-cost housing across the world and staying with hosts that tell me the in’s and out’s of the city I’m in. If you’re looking for privacy, be sure to filter by Private Room or even a Private Residence. My host in Cairo, Nuria, was absolutely amazing – she provided fresh fruits, yogurt, and juices for my friend and I that were staying in her spare room.
Hostels are the low-budget choice of nearly every traveler in their early years. Ranging from a couple dollars a night in South East Asia to $50+ a night for a private room, they’re available in nearly every major city. The only place I had troubles finding hostels was in the UAE. Sometimes, you can even split a bunk room with friends and make the costs lower. Some of the best hostels I’ve stayed in include – The Funky Mamaliga (Chisinau, Moldova), Maverick Lodges (Budapest, Hungary), Khaosan Tokyo Origami (Tokyo, Japan) and countless others. Just be wary that sometimes, what hostels advertise are not all that they offer. In Sophia, Bulgaria, a friend and I slept on wooden pallets while the owner was still building the bunk beds.
I arrived in Santorini off of my boat without a clue of where I would be staying and figured I would find a place before the sunset. After several negotiations with a travel agent, I left more frustrated and thought that I would have to camp outside without a tent. There could be worse things than camping on a beach on a beautiful Greek island. Having wandered around the little town, I found a campground that I negotiated a $20 a night private bungalow for myself.
From other past experiences I’ve had in Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, and more countries in eastern Europe; grandmothers and other people renting out their flats will be waiting at the bus stop. Just keep in mind what the average nightly rate is at a hostel and that you do not need to accept the first rate offered by them. Negotiation is key to getting the best deal.
If you’re up for more of an adventure and staying at places for little to no-cost:
- Couchsurfing – (My Profile is here)
- WWOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
Some of the above services connect travelers with hostels that require some work in order to receive free lodging. I know that some hostels advertise that they are looking for part-time work in exchange for housing, but their reach was limited. That’s what Trampolinn, Worldpackers, and other services are offering to solve.
You could even stay a few stops outside of the city by train or tram. Knowing that I’d be in Munich for the opening week of Oktoberfest, finding cheap accommodation was going to be impossible. My friends and I got resourceful and ended up finding an AirBnB outside of the city by ~10 kilometers for a great rate. The money we saved was in the hundreds.
Hopefully this post helps you think more creatively about finding a place to stay while traveling. The options are nearly endless.