With so many options for travel accommodation nowadays, sometimes it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Travel costs can be relatively cheap; however finding accommodation can be the most difficult part of planning your trip.
The traditional choice for most holiday-makers. Hotels are usually best for short city breaks or for the traveller looking for a little more luxury.
Benefits: It’s possible to find cheap hotels offers if you keep an eye out on websites like Booking.com and LastMinute.com, which are really easy to use. Use the filters options to narrow your search to find the right hotel for you. Hotels can also offer good half board or all inclusive deals, the best ones normally found in resorts.
Downfalls: 3-4 star hotels don’t usually offer the best food. Usually, they serve generic Western meals that are aimed to suit the needs of most of the guests but often fail to provide a taste of the local cuisine. Sometimes, a package hotel may have hidden costs like paying for your sun loungers. Resorts are often found in more rural areas with little to no bars or nightlife around, so you may end up stuck in the hotel with an expensive bar and awful tribute bands.
May suit: Couples, families or small groups looking for a relaxing holiday.
Often known as ‘youth’ hostels, but may be a great option for any age. The best tip I can give is to spend a little time reading the reviews for the hostel. Tripadvisor and Booking.com have plenty of reviews. Avoid if there are consistent negative reviews. One bad review doesn’t mean it’s not a nice place to stay, some people are never happy!
Benefits: Shared dorms often come at a much cheaper price in comparison to a hotel. There are usually great bars in the hostels where solo travellers hang out and you will always meet lots of new people from different countries. Most rooms will come with a shared bathroom but they are usually very clean and it’s not something to worry about.
Downfalls: Sharing a room with 6-12 people can be frustrating in some ways. You have to be very considerate of the other people if you are arriving home late, especially if you’ve had a few drinks. Some hostels aren’t as clean as others, I have heard a few horror stories about bed bugs and that is something I would have been concerned about in choosing hostels. Checking reviews and bringing your own sheets are the best way to avoid this.
May suit: Solo travellers, couples, friends and groups on a budget.
Homestays and BnBs
Sites like Airbnb and Homestay offer accommodation that is owed by locals and may come at a much cheaper price than traditional choices.
Benefits: It is often much nicer to stay with someone who is familiar with the area and most hosts enjoy chatting to their guest about the locality and the culture. There may be other benefits such as a host allowed me the use of their spare bicycle while I was staying with them which saved me a lot of money. The sites have lots of reviews which you can look at before you book and you can choose to filter your options from private room, shared or entire apartments.
Downfalls: Renting the entire apartment can sometimes be a little expensive but if you have a group, it can be relatively cost-effective. It is at the discretion of the host to cancel the booking if it doesn’t suit them but you can check their reliability and their reviews to avoid this.
May suit: Anyone, they can cater for all types of travellers.
Couchsurfing and Servas International are websites in which hosts allow travellers to stay for free. WorkAway is a website for hosts who will offer you food and board in exchange for a few hours labour per day, excluding typical chores. Similarly, WWOOF Ireland provides free accommodation and food in exchange for working in organic farms on home soil, here in Ireland.
Benefits: Obviously, if you are on a tight budget, this is the cheapest option. Some hosts may not necessarily offer you their couch, lots of people have spare rooms on offer. You also have the benefit of mixing with local people who can teach you a little more about the area. Couchsurfing may also be a handy tool for contacting locals who might want to meet up for a drink too!
Downfalls: You might not have the most comfortable of situations, in terms of where you lay your head and the people you might encounter. Female travellers may have to be a little more cautious about who they stay with and bear in mind that the host may not necessarily be the problem, sometimes there are other housemates which may cause problems.
May suit: Solo travellers, couples or friends on a budget or looking for a holiday that is a little more adventurous.
And so, you have it. A few options to consider for your next holiday, regardless of your budget. With more and more competition cropping up for hotels, it’s worth your while considering all your options before you hand over your hard earned cash.