I’m not travelling again for a few months because of University, so thought I would post something informative in the meantime.
I’m a huge fan of hotels – I enjoy the convenience and the luxury of having my bed made for me every day. However, this comes as a price – often a very high price. So what to do if you’re travelling somewhere on a budget, with no friends to crash with? Well, I recently stayed in a hostel for the first time, and really enjoyed the experience – so I started digging into just how cheaply it is possible to stay somewhere new. I found two good options, and have gone into some more detail below.
Hostels are becoming more and more popular, particularly among students like myself – they offer a no-frills stay – where you’re often sharing a room with 3-5 other people, but at a tenth or twentieth of the price of a hotel. There are individual or double rooms too, but they tend to be more expensive.
So how can you save money on hostel bookings? My first tip is to use a big booking agent – they tend to have the best range, enabling you to choose the best priced, or best located. My favourite is HostelWorld (also UK) – because it looks the nicest, and also because you only have to pay a 10% deposit up-front, unlike most which force you to pay the full stay in advance. They also have a cash back scheme, run through QuidCo and TopCashBack (both UK, but TCB has a US arm too), which allows you to save even more (up to an extra 5%).
So what are the limitations? Well, sharing a room means you have a pretty much pot luck selection of who your roommates are – which can be good or bad. Additionally, a lot of hostels have no secure space to leave valuables (some have safes, or lock boxes – look at the hostel information pages). However, for the cost savings, and provided you are happy to sleep holding your valuables, I think its worth it.
I’ve never used Couch Surfing before, but read about it somewhere and liked the concept – in return for offering your couch to visitors to your area, you can crash with people in the network around the world – which is much, much cheaper than hotels, and perhaps even cheaper than hostels.
I don’t know a tremendous amount about it (but definitely want to try!) – a quick search for potential ‘couches’ in Venice, Italy brought up more than 450 results, and a search for Paris brought up more than a thousand – which looks awesome and free.
For more posts like this, why not check out my travel tips blog Trip Tricks?