Wondering how I managed to spend just 2000 euros in 200 days of full-time European travel? Here’s one of my not-so-secret secrets: Finding Budget Accommodations!
There are so many sites to be used for finding accommodations around the world. Before I began a life of full-time travel, I’d go to those popular sites like Orbitz, Expedia and… you know the rest. Well, it turns out there’s a world of wonderful websites that help you get out of those money sucking, stagnant Hiltons and Marriotts and into spaces with class and character!
Here are my top picks for you, Dear Traveler.
Agoda and Booking
These sites are nearly exactly the same as the other. Put in your preferred location and dates, and find a range of stays from dorm beds to luxury hotels. You can arrange by price, by distance from city center, and can specify any needs and desires you have (Wifi? Parking? Two beds? Four?)
Often, private guesthouses and bed and breakfasts are available on these sites. These type of stays tend to be more personalized and often include home cooked breakfasts and the ability to mingle with locals and fellow travelers, rather than to stay tucked inside of your one room hotel.
I also use them to reserve a bed in hostels around the world. Though these reservations require a credit card, your card is not charged. Instead, you pay (often with cash in local currency) upon arrival. If you don’t show up and have put your 3-digit CVC code in when making the reservation, your card will be charged still. However, if you ‘forget’ that code, I’ve heard your card won’t be charged if for some reason you don’t show.
Another popular website used by budget travelers is HostelWorld. I did not used to prefer this site, as unlike Booking or Agoda it often asks for a downpayment. That’s really my only qualm, and since giving it a go, I’ve found it to be useful more in Western Europe than Eastern Europe. Recently I ran into a situation where the price listed on HostelWorld was 2/3 the price of the same bed when booked through any other website, including the hostel’s own site. When I arrived at the hostel, the manager said that if I wanted to pay the cheaper price I’d need to book through HostelWorld so I took a seat in the lobby and booked my stay from there. Unconventional, but it worked and saved me nearly 20 euro!
Arrive ‘Off the Street’ or Email the Hostel Directly
If you’re traveling in the off-season, arriving at a hostel without previously booking a bed may save you money. Hostels and Hotels pay fees to websites from which they receive guests. This means if you pay 10 euros by securing a bed through a third-party site, the hostel only receives about 8 euros. Hostels are still happy to have customers, so they often offer 10-15% discounts to those who arrive ‘off the street’ or email them directly.
Join a club!
In Balkans, there’s a group of top-rated hostels known as Balkans Best Hostels. It’s not a club per-say, as you don’t actually join. But you do carry around a passport (brochure) from hostel to hostel and get stamped with each night you stay at a member-hostel. Each place also greets you with a special treat, whether its a welcome drink, a free load of laundry, or a souvenir. And after you stay 16 nights, you get another night free! This seems like a lot of stays, but when you’re traveling for several days consecutively, after just 2 1/2 weeks.
Looking for more accommodation tips? Check out your new guide to AirBNB (CLICK HERE) including $35 coupon off your first qualifying stay; read about volunteering in exchange for room and board with Workaway (CLICK HERE) and stay tuned for a guide to Couchsurfing.