Travelling is perceived as many by being expensive hence the reason why many people put it off and say “i’ll go somewhere next year”. This is not totally untrue though. Between flights and accommodation, travelling can set you back a pretty penny. However, as I outlined here, there are ways to lower the financial burden of the cost of a flight. Similarly, this post is about how I find budget accommodation for as little as $3-$4/night.
This is the number one way to save money on accommodation while travelling and to be honest, I now actually prefer hostels compared to hotels. After all, and this is completely subjective, I travel to new places to experience the culture, food, sights and other things that the destination is known for not to sleep in a nice fancy bed, something I can do every other night of my life while i’m at home anyways.
The only three sites I use to find and book hostel stays (ranked in order of preference and usage) are:
I have always had a great experience using any of these 3 resources to find and book my hostels.
The guidelines I generally follow when looking for hostels on these sites are:
- Rating percentage
- Number of reviews
- Reviews themselves
- WI-FI and power outlets
Let’s go through each of these criteria one by one. Relating to price, in Europe I generally tried to find places under 20 Euros/night. Similarly, in Asia and South America I generally go with $10/night and under as my budget. In Southeast Asia I was often able to find hostels that costed a mere $3-$4/night! Sure, it’s just a bed but it met all the requirements below and i’d rather spend money on awesome experiences than on a comfy bed to sleep in anyways.
The next indicator is the rating percentage. I generally try to go with hostels that have an 80%+ rating. Having stayed at hostels with a rating under 80% I generally found the whole experience much less enjoyable so I now stick with 80%+.
The number of reviews is tied to the above point. I try to look for places that have over 100 reviews so as to eliminate any possible bias that could be in the rating percentage if there are only a few reviews.
I generally take a QUICK read through some reviews to see what people are saying. If all looks good and no mention of bedbugs then i’m happy. The WI-FI and power outlet situation in the hostels isn’t always a huge deal breaker, I generally scan the reviews for people talking about the WI-FI and power outlet situation in the hostel. If I see a lot of complaints about these i’ll probably avoid the hostel. However if WI-FI is free and included (and most places it always is except in Australia I saw hostels that charged customers for WI-FI usage!!! I know crazy!) and there are no complaints about it then it’s good to me. A good amount of power outlets in the hostel and in particular the dorm rooms, is a travelers best friend. Charging devices is a must and if you can’t do that easily at a particular hostel then it’s bye bye hostel and on to another one.
So I have to disclose, I have only used Airbnb once and that was in Sydney over New Years. I booked my flights in and out of Sydney in September, 2014 but forgot to book a hostel until December and being that I was looking for a place to stay at New Years in Sydney, it was next to impossible to find anything, let alone anything for under $150/night. Also Sydney was weird for booking hostels in that most places had a minimum stay of something ridiculous like 5-7 days so even if they had availability I couldn’t book them for my short 3 night stay.
I was getting desperate to find anything so I turned to Airbnb and ended up finding the place above. It’s definitely nothing spectacular (there wasn’t even any glass on the windows, just the bars) and still costed $35/night for a mattress that the owner threw on the floor but hey, it was something and didn’t break the bank. Besides, it was New Years and there wasn’t much sleeping going on that night anyways! There was also WI-FI, hot showers and power outlets to charge so it had everything a backpacker needs!
Don’t let my Airbnb experience fool you though, not all places (well very few places actually) are anything like the above one I stayed in and many locations are VERY nice, clean and are perfect options for those looking for a nice medium between a hostel and a hotel while still keeping the overall cost lower than that of a hotel stay.
So there you have it, those are the only resources I used to book budget accommodation during my travels throughout 50+ countries. if you ever have any questions about hostels or need some help or wonder about any hostel in particular let me know and i’ll be more than happy to help you out with your own accommodation planning.