HOW TO FIND THE BEST ACCOMMODATION FOR YOUR TRIP -- AT LOW-COST!
There are many types of affordable accommodation out there for your trip! You can choose to stay in laid back hostels, share modern apartments, funky camper-vans or party backpacking digs. Whatever you're searching for ----- How do you find it? And how do you know if it's the right place?
Once you have figured out your budget, you will know what you're willing to pay per night for a place to sleep. Your accommodation is very important for your daily budget because it's something you need to have every night. However, cheap prices doesn't mean living in squalor!
Lets look at how to find your future base and the things you need to take into consideration before finalising your booking.
HOSTELWORLD is by far my favourite website to find the best and most cost effective hostels around the world. Both the site and app are designed beautifully and perfect to navigate. I love how much detailed and helpful information they provide. From hundreds of reviews, exact directions on how to get to the hostel and which nationalities are most likely to stay there. After you have searched through the cheap listings of dorms or private rooms and have chosen a place to sleep --- confirm the booking, pay a very small fee for a deposit then be charged the rest when you arrive.
BOOKING.COM shows you a complete list of budget accommodation including all cheap hotels and guesthouses available in the city or area your researching -- as well as serviced apartment listings and the most popular hotels there are. All you have to do is 'Sort' the findings so it shows you the cheapest deals first and work from there. Type in any city's name, landmark, street or area in the world & be shown lists of accommodation options. I love how you pay nothing until you arrive and cancellations are mostly free and always straightforward!
For a while AGODA.COM was the cheapest accommodation comparison site around! They produce fantastic deals daily with up to 80% off prices you would pay normally. It's an easy site to use and includes features like 'Pay Nothing' until nearer your travel date or 'Free Cancellation' until very close to your date of arrival. Also, every time you use AGODA, you can earn points and rewards which means free accommodation at a later date when you have enough! However, I don't like how you can't see the Service Charge & Tax that's added to your bill until just before confirming because it makes the purchase look cheaper than it is. This is why I have other favourite comparison sites. (see above!)
Never forget about AIRBNB.COM Still can't find the right hostel, guesthouse or cheap hotel? Turn to AIRBNB and find the perfect apartment, shared room or house for you! Booking a private rental of someones home means experiencing unique designs, personal touches, your own kitchen, work space or bedroom. You can find something really special with AIRBNB for amazing prices!
Once you start searching through the cheap accommodation listings out there, you need to choose somewhere that's right for you. Just because it's cheap, doesn't mean you will enjoy your stay.
From the gallery of photos provided by the accommodation, you won't know if it's actually clean or full of cockroaches, if the staff are actually smiley like they seem or they're nasty and rude. Read reviews thoroughly but recognise the patterns --- you should be pretty safe if the positive reviews outweigh the bad and vice versa.
This is a tip that's usually forgotten. There's no point booking the cheapest room you can find in a city if it's the middle of nowhere and leads you to wasting money on going back and forth and splurging on unnecessary transportation costs. If there is something in particular you're visiting the city for, staying nearby to that particular tourist spot, event or area would be more convenient. Same goes for the safety of an area -- it's worth spending a little extra knowing you won't be afraid of where the hostel or guesthouse is situated.
CHECK OUT THE FACILITIES
As well as researching beforehand if the property and location are right for you -- you should find out if the hostel or guesthouse has everything you need. If you're planning to work or study on the road, strong WiFi is a must. Been detoxing for a while and in the need of a good night out? Check if there is a bar. Want to feel more secure during your stay? Find a place with 24-hour security and more than enough lockers to go around.
JUST TURN UP
Once I've been on the move for a while during my travels --- my forever go-to way of finding cheap accommodation that's right for me is by just walking around and turning up somewhere without a booking. Not only does this let you see the location, staff and room for yourself --- speaking to the manager face to face more than likely results in a cheaper deal. They usually quote a price cheaper than stated online because they have to pay a fee to a travel comparison site so by booking directly with you, cuts out that fee.
Plus, you can use your haggling skills to work out an even better deal, do you think you will stick around there for a week or so? Ask for discount.
TALK TO OTHER TRAVELLERS
There's no better way to hear about cheap, fun and memorable hostels than by chatting to backpackers you meet. They can give you true inside knowledge and reliable recommendations that's stood out to them. Where have you had the most fun? Where has been situated in the heart of it all? Where's been the best value for money? These are the questions you should be asking while talking to other travellers to find out about the best finds. We heard about Dreamboat Hostel on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala from other backpackers. We stayed at this friendly, social hostel and didn't want to leave. It turned out to be the best place we stayed in Central America.
Before the days of being constantly connected to the internet and having a smartphone -- guidebooks were where I would look to first when arriving somewhere new without a booking. I would still turn to my Lonely Planet if I'd tried walking around and checked the web but sadly now they seem like a last resort.
HOUSE / APARTMENT SHARES
If you're planning on staying somewhere long-term and maybe even finding a job or enrolling into a school -- cut the costs by finding a room-mate. The rent and bills are halved or more and you have the opportunity to make friends in a new city. Check out AIRBNB, GUMTREE and local listings through social media to get started.
I hope this makes your search for accommodation on your trip easier!