Booking accommodation can be a daunting task. There are so many options to choose from, and you want to make the right choice. Remember: your accommodation can make or break your time in a place. Cutting corners or booking in a crappy area will make you feel uncomfortable and that is definitely not what you want on your trip. So follow these steps to finding the best accommodation.
Which type of accommodation are you looking for?
You’ll find anything from 5-star mountain resorts to 1-star dive motels — and we’ve experienced them all. This is where you get to be in control of how much you want to spend. It’s often the most expensive option, but also requires the least amount of effort. Are you looking to be pampered or just a place to sleep? We like hotels every once in a while, and if we can get one with a bathtub and a water-slide we are sold!
Apartment of your own
Maybe an apartment better suits you, the privacy factor is amazing. It’s also much cheaper than a hotel if you’re staying for a long period. And you get a kitchen so you can cook your own meals. If you have a short trip you probably don’t need a kitchen, because one of the awesome parts of travelling is to experience the local cuisine. But if your trip is longer, a kitchen is necessary. Head down to the local market and pick up some local fruits and veggies, that is an experience in itself!
Like saving tonnes of money and bunking with other travellers? Choose a dorm room. You can also get private rooms in hostels, which is a great way to keep your privacy but still meet other travellers. That’s the route we usually take when staying in hostels. Most Hostels have a kitchen you can use as well, which saves on the cost of eating out every meal.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the culture, choose a home-stay and live with a local family. Usually, they will help you travel around their city/town and give you local tips for where to eat, how to get places and what festivals are happening when you are there.
We stay in a variety of places when we travel because it is so different in every place around the world. In Europe, you will be spending a lot more than in Asia for a hotel so maybe choose a hotel in Asia and a hostel or shared accommodation in Europe. Mix it up a little! Also, there are some really fun options on AirBNB these days like staying in castles, boats and even tree-houses.
Location and Price
Where you want to be located and how much do you want to spend?
If you’re staying for longer stretches, keep an eye out for markets and grocery stores. When cooking for yourself, you don’t want to taxi halfway across town every time you need produce.
First, start with a search of “The best areas to stay in [city name here]” This will give you a general guideline of where you want to be situated. If there is nothing on the area in this city check out where most of the big chain-hotels are located, and this will generally be their centre of the city, or at least the centre of tourist action.
Centrally located is usually a good idea, but can be quite loud. If you want to get a good night sleep, maybe staying a little out of the centre is better. Somewhere outside the centre but within a short walk is usually the best option.
Also, do a search for “Dangerous areas in [city name here]” to find the areas to avoid. Although this is important everywhere, in some cities around the world there are definite no-go areas.
We usually only really search Booking.com and AirBnb these days, to get a general idea of cost. There are also hostel search sites like Hostelbookers.com and Hostelworld.com to check out, but we find Booking.com has it all.
However, if you do use this method to save money, beware of the costs of public transport. If the costs are high and you are heading in/out of town a couple of times a day you might not be saving money after all.
What are your needs?
From here you will choose your accommodation based on your needs. Pretty much all booking sites have filters for various amenities. Utilize these checkboxes and narrow down the search, make it easier on yourself without sifting through dozens of room options.
We always click the free WIFI option but there are many things to choose from such as a pool or workout room, free breakfast, air-conditioning and much more. Also, if you have a certain budget range, input that amounts in the search area, there is no need searching for places outside of your budget.
Most major cities have a ton of accommodation and you can be searching for hours if you don’t narrow down exactly what you want. We will also try to look for places with at least a 7.5 to 8 rating out of 10, (or 4/5 or higher) so that we don’t get a crappy place.
Check out the photos of the places and see if you like it. Does it feel comfortable to you? Does the kitchen look clean, the bed look comfortable and so on? If the pictures were taken without care then I feel that is how you are going to be treated while you are there. Like I said before, pick a place you feel good booking, and want to stay in, this can make or break your holiday.
Now narrow down your search to five or six properties you can see yourself staying in and check out the reviews. We rarely book a place that has no reviews, unless the place really looks outstanding. Another reason to read reviews on a place is that even though certain amenities are listed, they’re often flawed.
For example, a place might have a kitchen, but in the reviews, you’ll learn that there are only dishes for one person, or it’s missing a bunch of kitchen accessories, like a knife. Or free WiFi is listed, but reviews state that the speed is terribly slow. For people, like us, who work online, this little detail can mean everything.
Reviews will tell you about the bed being comfortable if the free breakfast was any good, and how loud the property is at night. Get rid of any listings that you do not like, and hopefully, you end up with one or two properties that you would like to book. Pick the overall better one. Sometimes it is worth that extra couple of dollars.
Double check then BOOK IT
Now is the time to be done the search of the best accommodation and you are that much closer to your sweet sweet vacation. Just make sure to double check all of the details. After looking at so many, be sure you’re actually picking the correct property. And please don’t make the 500€ mistake we made in Rome — double check the dates!
Go over the cancellation policy, and make sure you are comfortable with this as well. If the property is non-refundable and you are still unsure, wait a bit, go for a coffee and come back in an hour and see if you feel the same about the property. If Romeo and Juliette taught us anything, it’s that rushing to decisions is bad… and that teenagers are moody.
Once you are 100% sure about the place book it.
You are well on your way to your trip and shit just got real. Good Work. We at These Foreign Roads are Proud of you.