Where to Stay While Traveling 101
Since you read my first article in the travel category, How to Find Cheap Flights 101, you’re now ready to book a place to stay. Times have changed, and since you’re smart, (you are reading my blog) you understand that considering hotels as your only option is for fools. Just like all of our many options for air travel, we now have new, more affordable options for where we sleep on trips.
Full disclaimer before we get into this. I haven’t personally used all these options but have interviewed friends for this article specifically who have.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 5 years, then you know what Airbnb is. Airbnb literally turned the lodging industry upside down and gave us, the customer, more freedom in where we stay when we travel. The crazy thing about this is that they own none of these properties. All they do is connect the consumer to the landlord.
According to AirBnb.com, they have over 5 million listings worldwide, in 81,000 different cities. This optionality has allowed over 300 million stays to take place since the company was founded. Personally, I’ve used it to stay on the beach in Florida, at the lake in Oklahoma, and for my birthday weekend in Texas. They even have 3,000 castles and 1,400 tree houses listed, how cool is that?
The last major perk is Airbnb allows regular people, like you and I, to list our own places for people to stay in. My roommate and I did this with a simple air mattress in our living room and made a couple thousand dollars. That’s a story for another time though.
If you want to try out Airbnb, you’re in luck. If you follow this link you’ll get $40 off your first trip!
Like I said in the intro, some of these options I have never used and a hostel is one of them. I mean, how could I after the movie Hostel came out in 2005 about a group of guys that stayed in one, only to find out it was a serial killer’s sick game?
On a serious note, hostels are great options. If you’re like me and from the US, then you will have a tougher time taking advantage of them, as they aren’t that popular here. Just a quick search of Atlanta, Georgia and only one result came up. If you are traveling overseas though, a hostel may be your best option. Hostelworld.com and Hostels.com are going to be your top search engines to use when looking for a place to stay.
Both sites offer endless options for places to stay as well as sleeping accommodations. For instance, you can book a private single bedroom or some offer the option of sleeping in 4-10 bedroom dorms. You can almost always find what you’re looking for and stay within your budget.
If you’re traveling to a new city, want to meet new people, and are on a strict budget, then couch surfing is for you. Couch surfing means exactly what it says. You get connected with a person online, I suggest through couchsurfing.com, and you stay with them for FREE.
Again, just like a hostel, I have never couch surfed. Why do you ask? For one, I haven’t had the right opportunity too. I rarely travel alone and I don’t feel like couch surfing with a group would be the same experience as doing it alone. Two, I’m a little scared of it. I understand this may be an irrational fear but I think that the whole not paying a stranger for a place to stay, and that place being their couch, just seems off. That being said, I will definitely be trying it in the future and I’m all about meeting new people.
Speaking of meeting new people, one of couchsurfing.com’s perks is they host free events for surfers to attend. Building a community is important to them and giving travelers a place to connect, especially when they’re traveling alone, could mean you make some unexpected new friends.
Even though we have a ton of great options to choose while booking where to stay, hotels can still be a great option. Hotels understand they are under pressure and getting their rooms booked is more difficult every day. Because of this, they are offering more deals that you need to find.
Personally, I use hotels either for their location or the amenities they offer. The first place that comes to mind is a Las Vegas trip I took a few years ago. The hotel that we stayed at was located on the strip, right where we wanted to be. It offered amenities like a casino, pool, and bar, all of which were things we wanted to do. It was worth it to pay a little more than stay in a place outside the city that didn’t offer any of the experiences we wanted from the trip. Another place was Mexico, where we stayed at a resort on a beach. This resort also offered all-inclusive food and drinks. What more could you ask for?
Rarely will I ever stay in a hotel. They are great in a pinch but when I want to plan out a trip, I’ll usually look at the other options first.
Stay with your friend
This idea seems so obvious but why don’t people do it more? My favorite trips in the last couple of years have been going and staying with friends. You get to spend quality time with people you enjoy, while also getting the added perk of a free place to stay in a new city.
So, call up that friend you haven’t talked to in months and tell them you’re coming to see them!
Your situation will be the ultimate guide in choosing how you pick where to stay on your trip but the bottom line is getting out there and exploring. Who knows? You might meet new friends that could become your travel buddies in the future.
Hopefully, this article sheds a little light on your options and can save you a buck or two while in the process.