As promised here is a post on finding accommodation (that isn’t hotels) online. If you want to see my post on finding hotels you can click right here and check that out. There are a bunch of other options to hotels and here are just a few that I have used and figured I should share!
First up is probably the most obvious – Hostels. Hostels are essentially inexpensive places that offer cheap lodging, food etc. They are normally targeted at students or younger travellers but truly anyone can use them. Most hostels have two types of lodging available – dorms and private. Private rooms are just like hotels but will be a little cheaper as it’s less fancy. Dorm style is a bed in a room with a certain number of other beds and other people. The smallest I’ve ever stayed in had four beds and the largest twenty haha, so it really fluctuates depending where you are. You have to check out their individual prices as it sometimes (if you’re travelling in a group) can be cheaper to pitch in and get a private room. Hostels are a great place to meet other travellers and make friends as they often host bar nights or random activities. They tend to have computers, internet, cheapish food and of course showers (although sometimes they are communal so don’t forget flip-flops). I have had some amazing hostel experiences but I’ve also had shitty ones. You’ll occasionally get stuck in a room with people who have habits you can’t get on with or maybe you just aren’t feeling comfortable. There’s also a security factor you have to consider about leaving your stuff in a shared room (although nowadays most hostels have lockers which is great). Just balance out the positives and negatives and see if it’s an option.
As far as finding and booking hostels the best two places are the internet and recommendations. Once you find your first hostel start talking to people and seeing where they came from / where they’re heading next and obviously where they stayed. In order to get that first place I tend to search where I’m going and then hostel e.g. ‘Sydney Hostel’. That normally comes up with a fair few and then I sieve my way through them reading reviews and comments. I always take into consideration price, location and amenities. There are of course generic search sites like Hostels.com and Hostelworld which are both great to get a broader look. (Little tip – once you do find a hostel you like, see if that company has any others in different cities you’re visiting and if they do a rewards card to make it cheaper if you stay loyal to them).
I guess next we’ll talk about renting. This is becoming a more and more popular option for people travelling. There’s something nice about having a ‘home comfort’ whilst away and experiencing something other than a hotel or hostel. There are perks like being able to cook for yourself, different locations, normally cheaper for groups and getting that insider knowledge. For me it depends where I’m travelling, who I am with and how long I am there. If there’s a big group it tends to be easier to rent somewhere and all pitch in together. If I’m there for an extended stay it’s again nice to have somewhere I can truly feel comfortable in and not deal with hotel stress.
The most popular (and I guess up and coming) way to find vacation rentals nowadays is airbnb as it’s super easy and very convenient. You search by location, guests, nights and dates – then they show you what places are available and give you more info. You can then contact the host and get to know them better/find out more information about the place. It’s normally to rent the place with no-one there or a bedroom in their home whilst they will be there. Depends on whether you’d rather privacy or staying with a local for that extra tidbit of advice. The whole experience and website is very modern and a very hip version of the more traditional ‘bed and breakfast’. Once you search you can check out places via a map or even narrow your search down using cost, room types etc. Each listing has photos, reviews, house amenities and rules etc. so you’ll truly know what you’re getting yourself in for. A unique thing about airbnb is that they offer some weirder accommodations (just in case you want to try out a castle or even an igloo haha). I’ve done it a few times and have had only positive experiences so I’d definitely recommend them. The whole booking process is really simple and they have a very extensive help system/FAQ for any additional queries.
I’ll keep this next one brief as I seem to have babbled on so far. People can be a little skeptical about it but it’s Couchsurfing dun dun dun. The premise of this site is that people offer up their ‘couch’ or extra bed at their place for you. It’s expected that in return you’ll offer up yours for someone else and it’s kind of a karma system. You get to essentially ‘be a local’ and experience that place just like them. Often the hosts tend to become friends and will show you around/give you tips etc. There’s a lot of info on safety and feeling comfortable about the situation on their website so check that out if you’re intrigued.
My last suggestion for finding accommodation (and one I use regularly) is to bugger your friends haha. We all have connections and seeing if one of your best friends has an acquaintance or buddy living somewhere you’re planning on going is always an option. Secretly people don’t mind helping each other out and you never know you might make a new best friend out of it!
With all of these options (minus the last one haha) it’s really just a matter of doing your research. Make sure you read reviews on the place and see what other people are saying. Just use your brain and if something sounds too good to be true or sketchy – don’t do it.