Budget Accommodation Doesn’t Have to Stink
Episode #3 of the course A practical guide for budget travel by Damon Dominique, Joanna Franco, and Alyssa Perrott
Forget the Hollywood stereotypes of budget travel accommodation: stinky hostel rooms crammed with creaky bunk beds and bug-infested motels in dark alleyways. It doesn’t have to be this way!
It’s 2018, and the accommodation industry is not only booming but also rapidly evolving.
New, budget-friendly lodging options are popping up left, right, and center, and the world is more connected than ever before.
Let’s look at safe, comfortable and cost-effective opportunities that live up to these innovative times.
The beast itself. Since its inception in 2008, Airbnb has enjoyed enormous growth—now boasting over four million listings worldwide—and it’s changed the way many people (especially millennials) approach travel. Options to rent out a private room in someone’s home—or the home in its entirety—are available virtually everywhere in the world.
This type of accommodation offers you a more immersive experience and closer engagement to the local community.
It’s also much lighter on the wallet than traditional hotels. In Europe, for example, the cost of a night in an Airbnb can be anywhere from 8 to 17% cheaper than a hotel’s daily rate.
And Airbnb is ideal if you’re traveling in a group; you’ll save money by splitting costs and will be able to tiptoe to the kitchen in your PJs at 3 am to chug water after a night out, without running into a rando on the way.
Hostels cop a bad rap, but honestly, these days, they’re the place to be. Young people remain their most frequent customers, and today’s youth expects (and deserves) the best. If a hostel’s service is bad, the whole world will hear about it—from Facebook to Yelp and back again.
You can now expect hundreds of hostels to offer inclusive breakfast, free activities, discounts on local tours and transport, and around-the-clock reception and security. You might even find a rooftop Jacuzzi or rustic beer garden.
Hostels also provide you with the opportunity to make some wonderful friends. And who knows, you might be able to stay with them for free when you inevitably travel to their home city on future trips! To book a hostel, Hostelworld has the most comprehensive selection and an easy-to-navigate rating system. Mariah Carey even did a commercial for them, so you know they’re legit.
Airbnb and Hostelworld don’t cost too much, but why not try something that costs nothing at all? Couchsurfing encompasses the modern traveler’s values of connectedness and exchange: You can literally stay on someone’s couch, completely free of charge. In comparison to Airbnb, it’s more important here to be willing to engage with your host—you won’t really be able to limit your conversations to the realm of logistics. In this sense, the spirit of the service is a little different (and this is arguably the best part!).
Safety is an understandable concern, so make sure the hosts you reach out to have a profile photo, existing (and positive) reviews, and ideally, an identity verification. If any messages exchanged make you uncomfortable in any way, abort the mission and try somebody else.
Looking for niche options? If you’re keen to learn a new language, consider a homestay program. Down to do hefty labor in exchange for a bed? Try farm stays. You could do house-sitting, camping, volunteer programs in schools and camps, stay in a monastery … You can even reach out to smaller hostels and ask if you can work in exchange for a bed. We’ve done it.
And remember: The internet is your friend. There are fantastic sites and apps a-plenty for when you’re after digital accommodation help. Hotel Tonight is an app that shows you amazing same-day deals in your area (the only time we stay in hotels anymore, tbh). And don’t forget Facebook groups: There are ones for short-term subletting, student accommodation, couch-surfing forums, and the like.
We know the struggle can be real when it comes to budget travel accommodation—we’d be lying if we said we’d never slept on a bench or on the floor of an airport. But thanks to the ever-growing list of new and improved options, these (mis)adventures can become a thing of the past, even for the most money-tight among us.
Come back tomorrow for all things food: how to keep your stomach full without emptying your pockets!
Recommended reading (our experiences)
Five Favorite Travel and Photo Apps for iPhones | Summer 2018
How I Ended Up Working at a Hostel Bar in Lisbon for One Month
How to Sleep Overnight in an Airport
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