Accommodation can be one of the biggest costs when travelling, especially if you’re backpacking or going on a road trip without booking hotels ahead. Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that can keep you travelling on a shoestring. Here are just a few tips when finding somewhere to sleep.
Time your travels right
There are popular times throughout the year to visit certain places, which are often also the most expensive times. For example, if you’re visiting China during Chinese New Year, you can expect hotel prices to be much greater. Similarly, cities may have individual festivals throughout the year – visiting during these time could be more pricy. Christmas and the height of summer are almost always more expensive. October to November and March to May are often the quietest and cheapest times to travel and find accommodation.
Avoid City Centres
Accommodation will also be more expensive in the centre of a city where all the attractions are. If you’re stopping off in a city, consider staying on the outskirts. You’ll have to get public transport into the centre which may add up costs depending on where you’re visiting. Some cities may also have shuttle services from campsites and popular hotels outside the city.
Staying on the outskirts in particularly worthwhile if you’re driving as parking will be very pricey in any city centre. The further out you go, the more likely you may be able to find free parking (supermarket car parks are worth keeping an eye out for).
Sharing is Sparing
You can save a lot of money from sharing a room. If you’re travelling with other people, you may be able to save money on double rooms. You may be able to get a single room and sneak in another guest with a sleeping bag. Hostels are a great place to stay if you’re travelling alone. You can save a lot by sharing a room with other travellers. Some hostels may have several bunks per room – you won’t get much privacy but it’s somewhere to rest your head and it’s a great place to make new friends and travel buddies along the way.
If you’re not afraid to stay in a tent you can often save a lot of money by checking into a campsite as opposed to a hotel. Wild camping meanwhile is a free option that is ideal for hiking trips in warmer climates (not always so good in cold climates). You can take a sleeping bag or even try sleeping in a hammock. This rugged lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone and some may prefer to check into hostels and hotels.
Compare Costs Online
When reaching a new city, there’s nothing more soul-destroying than trudging from hostel to hostel late at night in search of a bed. Searching beforehand online can help you find hotels that aren’t fully booked as well as helping you to locate the cheapest rate. There are lots of hotel comparison sites – most of which allow you to book ahead on them. You should note that you’re not always guaranteed better prices from booking ahead online as sometimes you may also be paying a booking fee on top to pay for the listing.
Because you may not want to turn your data on in a foreign country, you’re best off searching online somewhere that has Wi-Fi. A good strategy is to search the night before using that accommodation’s Wi-Fi. This way, whenever you arrive at your next destination, you’ll know straight away where to go and not have to trudge around.
Paperback guides such as Lonely Planet are also useful for finding a cheap bed and can allow you to travel offline. These guides also provide reviews, which gives you some idea of the quality of the accommodation.
You may be able to save even more money by using a site such as Homestay, which allows you to stay with a local family in their home. This allows you to see how a local lives and you may be able to get a more rich sense of the culture. Families may be willing to transport you around locally, saving you money on transport, and may cook meals for you to. Their local knowledge may also allow you to see some sights in the area that aren’t in the travel books. The disadvantage of using this service is that you’ll need to book ahead as it’s unlikely a family will take you in at a last minute’s notice.