How to Find Cheap Accommodation
Experienced travelers know that accommodation costs come second after flight expenses. Even if your budget is limited there are always ways to find alternative forms of accommodation. It is really no matter if you’re traveling solo or with your family, any country you visit will provide options that suit your needs and budget. A budget-friendly accommodation usually means reducing expenses on comfort and extra options. You can save a lot of money off the total cost of your trip by abandoning these options.
When you start picking cheap accommodation it is essential to determine your needs in advance. You can consider renting an apartment or staying in aparthotel to get a kitchen and cook your own food or stick to youth hostels when traveling alone. Think through the location of your future shelter to avoid extra expenses on transportation. When you pick your accommodation well in advance, there is a great chance of getting the best option. Staying flexible with your dates allows finding the best value for money.
Find the right hotel rating you can on tripadvisor.com and expedia.com. Make sure to get all the reviews, especially the negative ones. Once you find the right options, compare the options to figure out the cheapest ones and the most suitable for you. Visit the website of the hotel to check for special offers that might not be displayed in booking networks.
Things to Consider Before Booking a Hotel
The Price. Determine the acceptable price range. Do the research through booking networks, and make up a list of hotels that fully cover your needs. Keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best one. Search for special offers like “2 nights at a cost of 3” that sometimes allow getting the final price a lot lower in comparison with budget hotels. It is also quite important checking the hotel for extra charges and fees.
Location. This provision is even more important for me than accommodation price. As the hotel is yet to be reached, the transfer costs can add up significantly. If your hotel is off the main tourist routes, cafés, and shops, then you have to spend more time and money to reach it. Make up an itinerary and use a map to find the sights you would like to visit.
Breakfast. If you travel over Southeast Asia, breakfast isn’t that important because cheap and tasty street food can be easily found. But in Europe, breakfast is a great way to save money, as street food is quite expensive. Breakfast is also worth considering if you are going to some tiny island or a distant village.
Free Internet. Free WI-Fi is usually a desirable option during your stay. But according to my observations, the more expensive hotel you book the less likely free WI-Fi is available. Besides, it might cost significantly.
Additional Services. It can be anything starting from swimming pool and SPA to the beautiful view from the window. Any additional services, tend to increase the final accommodation cost. Learn what is included online or directly on the hotel website.
Benefits Of Staying In Hotels:
- Room service is usually included
- Accommodation cost includes electricity and water expenses
- Some additional hospitality services like swimming pool, spa, breakfast
- Usually it’s not possible to cook your own food
- Lack of living space
- There is little chance to reduce the final price
- Pets are not welcome in hotels
How To Book a Good Cheap Hotel Online
Early booking is one of the basic rules for saving money on hotel reservation. You will certainly need time to compare all information you can get from booking sites, so it’s important to stay flexible with your dates to get the best price. If you book a hotel that is popular among business travelers, then 7-10 days prior to your stay will do just fine. On the other hand, from one month to six months is required to get the best deals while booking hotels in resort areas. Amongst other things, early booking will allow you get a room with the best conditions for the same or even better price. For getting best deals or discounts when booking resorts in popular tourist destinations consider weekdays.
Hotel rates tend to fluctuate wildly depending on the season and the hotel booking site. If you have already booked the hotel, it makes sense to continue searching for a better option. Once you have made your booking online, contact the hotel directly to confirm your reservation, usually, they can offer larger rooms or any other options that are not specified on the booking site.
In order to stay tuned for these options. It is desirable to check at least three booking sites and the website of the hotel if available. This will allow you avoid the situation when the booking site shows a room available, while the other informs you it has been already booked. Get information from different sources. A non-refundable hotel is not the best option when you are still considering. Send e-mail the day before the departure confirming your reservation. This is the best way to show you need it.
Hostels are extremely popular among solo travelers willing to save money on accommodation. Despite the fact that hostels are considered something for young people my experience shows that even retirees sometimes prefer hostels for their unique social atmosphere and a great opportunity to cut the expenses. Many hostels nowadays provide even more services that hotels and quite pleasant places to stay.
Typical hostel consists of several dorm rooms and can accommodate up to 10 travelers that can sleep in bunk-beds. Dorm rooms are usually supposed to sleep, so if you plan to use a computer or read a book, you can relocate to lounge zone. Hostels are an excellent option when you travel in group, as you could rent the entire dorm for your group and avoid staying with other guests. When you pick a hostel to stay, specify if they provide lockers for your valuables. Apart from bunk-beds and lockers, you can count on easy breakfast, dorm shower, communal kitchen and Wi-Fi. Since you travel alone, you pay only for bed, but if you travel in group the final price would be multiplied by the number of group members.
The other thing about hostels is they differ from one another. Hostels aren’t necessary to have old and shabby rooms without decent service. There are a lot of modern and comfortable hostels with clean dorm rooms and a bunch of additional bonuses. You may also find themed hostels like trailers or capsule type. Some good hostels in Europe provide free Wi-Fi.
Where To Look For Cheap Hostels
Like all other accommodation options, bed in a hostel can be booked through booking network or by using these websites.
Online Hostel Search:
Benefits Of Staying In Hostels
- Hostels are really cheap
- A great way to meet other travelers
- Bunch of additional bonuses like free Wi-Fi, guides, breakfast
- Permanent staying among strangers might be uncomfortable
- Inability to leave valuables in hostel while exploring the city, you have to rent a locker if available or be ready to carry all your stuff with you
- Possible shower queue
- Noisy roommates can ruin your sleep or work plans
I absolutely love the chance to abandon hostels and hotels in favor of staying with locals. A very large community of like-minded people from all over the world who open up their homes to travelers for free. Want to see the local side of a city? Your host is the key to many amazing and interesting places that cannot be found in any guidebook. There is no better way to become acquainted with the local life. Your host may provide you with a spare room, or just a couch. No matter what it is, I usually have something tasty to offer in return
I know it might be a bit scary when you couchsurf for the first time, but surprisingly, there is no true reason for that. Due to the necessity of filling out profile, website verification system and the chance of leaving a reference about your host (as well as your host will leave reference on you) CouchSurfing becomes a place where the cool people meet each other. The couchsurfing community is made up of very different people with various backgrounds and captivating stories to share.
How To Find The Right Host
Couchsurfing.com is the best place to find free housing worldwide. You will have to fill out your profile, as it will help other people know you better and treat you right. Fill out information about what you fond of, your hobbies, etc.
Hospitalityclub.org is a couchsurf pioneer, was founded back in 2000. At the moment, this resource is most popular among couchsurfers. The website is convenient thanks to people searching system depending on their geographical location.
Benefits Of Staying With Locals
- A great way to save money on accommodation
- The unique chance of meeting new people and making friends from other countries
- Allows to plunge into local culture. It’s the best way to learn a lot of useful information from your host that is hardly can be found in any guidebook
- A large degree of uncertainty. You are strongly depends on your host. Housing may appear not what you expected, host may appear less pleasant person to chat with, plans might change, etc
- You have to be a sociable and charming person to maintain conversation
- Less suitable for families with kids
Another way to feel the local culture and get a bit more privacy is to rent a room or an entire apartment. The main benefit of short-term rental is that it allows you to interact with the local neighbors to get the idea of what it’s actually like to live in the country. This accommodation type can be a bit expensive for solo travelers, though. If you are traveling in group or a family it is a great way to avoid noisy hostels. Couchsurfing can be uncertain sometimes, so you can save lots of money on hotel accommodation by sticking to Airbnb.
What is really nice about renting a house or apartment is that they usually include a kitchen and allows cutting your food costs. A typical apartment may have two or more living rooms while renting a house provides a group of people with financial benefits. You may consider two room apartment or smaller one during your stay in the capital city or any other major town to save a lot.
Benefits Of Apartment Accommodation
- Larger living space in comparison with hotel room
- Apartment usually comes with a kitchen that makes convenient saving money on cooking
- It is possible to rent an apartment for a long period of time and save a lot. Always check for discounts
- You can negotiate with your host for improving living conditions during a prolonged stay if you would like to
- Pets are usually welcome
- In addition to initial price extra costs usually added. Such as for electricity, water-supply and Wi-Fi
- It usually impossible to rent an apartment for 1-2 days as it isn’t profitable for your host. The minimum rental period is usually a week
- You may be asked to clean the room and do the laundry or pay extra money
- The process of searching may become a troublesome task as you have to foresee many things like contacting the host, adjusting your dates of stay and checking room availability for these dates
WHERE TO LOOK FOR CHEAP ACCOMMODATION
There are a lot of hotel booking sites so let’s take a look at some of them:
Booking.com – One of the most popular services when you need to find accommodation. Usually you pay an advance payment, while the rest of the sum is to be paid upon arrival. In case you need a visa it is a great option – you book hotel room for free and after you done with visa just cancel your reservation.
Agoda.com – is a right way to search for accommodation in Asia. With few exceptions, the entire accommodation cost to be paid immediately upon booking. So if you accept sale offer you cannot cancel or change your reservation afterward. Meanwhile, paying for standard accommodation can be divided into two parts – one upon booking, and the second one before one-two weeks before the departure. Sign-up for Agoda.com bonus program to get free accommodation afterward.
There some other search engines. Try them out to compare prices and get the lowest.
Airbnb is a service where hosts list their places online and allow you to find the most suitable one. When using Airbnb you can search not only for apartments, but also for separate living rooms or entire houses. Usually, the price for apartment renting at Airbnb is lower than the cost of a hotel room.
While picking the right option, you can view photos, read reviews of previous lodgers. The system takes a fee for booking, but it is possible to negotiate with your host that you stay for 2 days, but your actual staying would last for two weeks, for example. Just pay the total amount on arrival. You pay the lowest fee just for two nights in this case.
Wimdu is good for its quality control. Pics, quality of housing and many other things are being regularly monitored. The operating principle is the same as Airbnb has – search for accommodation, get reviews, view pictures and book the most appropriate option.
So let’s search for London accommodation at its lowest price:
As you can see, sometimes it turns out that renting an apartment is cheaper. It may not be of brilliant quality, but what is important, you get kitchen for this price. Surely this option isn’t a sacred cow anyway and you may find cheap hotels or hostels. The only thing I would recommend here is to check prices for various accommodation options and compare them by using multiple online booking engine.
When searching for cheap accommodation mind to pick the one that best suits your needs. Compare several options, define your needs, be flexible with your dates. Search for alternative ways and you surely get what you need.