How and where to book accommodation
While planning a trip, the question of how and where to book accommodation comes up. We’re not sure if we should book ahead or if it’s just best to look for a place when we get to our destination. Well, actually, it all depends on several factors such as:
- How long we’ll be travelling for;
- What type of traveller we are;
- The kind of trip we’re planning.
When I’m planning to travel for a short time, like 2 or 3 weeks, and my itinerary is all set, I prefer to book accommodation ahead. I know I won’t have the time to look for accommodation on the several cities that I go to. But when I’m travelling for longer periods, and the itinerary is not completely set yet, I prefer to book at least the first night somewhere. After the first night, I decide if I want to stay at that hotel / hostel / guesthouse (whatever) or if I move to another place that I meanwhile found while walking around.
How to chose the perfect area to stay in?
Once you’ve chosen your travel destinations, you need to make sure which is the perfect area to stay in, in each one of them. If you don’t have a lot of time to visit the city’s main attractions, it’s better to stay in a more central area, close to those attractions, or in an area that allows you to have a quick and easy access to transports. To do so, you have to look at a map of your destination and check out where those attractions are. This way you’ll have a clear idea on which area to look for accommodation. If you still have some doubts about it, check out one of the many travel groups on Facebook where you can ask whatever questions you might have and get answers from other fellow travellers.
What kind of accommodation to chose?
If you’re travelling on a low budget, probably your best accommodation option will be an Hostel. Besides its low prices (for example, in Southeast Asia you can find beds for $6 per night or even less), it’s also a good place to socialise and meet potential travel buddies (in case you’re travelling alone). However, it’s important that you’re aware that staying at a hostel means less privacy, since you’ll be sleeping in a dorm room with 3 to 8 other people (sometimes even more) that you never saw before in your life. Many hostels allow you to chose from mixed dorms or female dorms. The female dorms are perfect if you feel more safe or/and comfortable sharing a room with other women only.
If you’re travel budget is slightly more comfortable, and if privacy is indeed a big issue for you, then you’ll be able to chose from a wider range of accommodation types. You can chose from Guesthouses, Hotels, B&B, Apartments, Resorts… Well, actually it will only depends on how much you’re willing to spend.
Staying at a homestay is also an interesting option. A homestay gives you the possibility of staying at a local family’s home. The accommodation prices are usually quite accessible. And you’ll get the chance to spend some time absorbing the local culture, and getting to know people that are able to teach you so much in so many ways. I did it in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I stayed at Hanoi Family Homestay and I loved the experience. I absolutely recommend it!
Where to book accommodation?
There are plenty of websites out there where you can book accommodation ahead. Websites such as Booking.com or Agoda are two websites that I regularly use for my own bookings. Agoda is particularly good in Southeast Asia because in certain countries (like Myanmar for example) it offers a wider range and amount of accommodation. These websites allow you to do a detailed selection of the available accommodations through a serious of filters. You are able to select the type of room you’re looking for, the price range, the comments score, the category, commodities, amongst others. It’s also important for you to have in mind that many hotels demand that you insert your credit card number when booking, even if the payment is only made on check-in or check-out. This is just a security measure in case of unexpected cancelations or if something is damaged in the room by the guests.
There’s also the website Hotels Combined, that gives you access to a price comparison through several available accommodation websites. You don’t actually book accommodation through this website. You check out the available deals and are redirected to the one you chose.
Another website that can be very helpful, in case you’re looking to book a house or a private apartment, is AirBnb. Through this website, you can look for rooms or entire houses/apartments. It allows you to have a more authentic experience since you’ll be living as a local would, for a few days. I’m an AirBnb member, and as such I can offer you $28 in travel credits for your first booking. All you have to do is sign up through this link: AirBnb (the Mary that appears on the website is me!).
Remember to keep this in mind when booking accommodation:
- Carefully check the location of the accommodation. Make sure it is the ideal location for you.
- Pay attention to other guests’ reviews before booking.
- Consider the score given by other guests to the accommodation. I usually tend to chose only the ones that score more than 7 (for example on Booking.com).
- The available photos are sometimes misleading. In case of any doubt, contact the accommodation before you book.
- Check the cancelation policies. Some accommodations are more flexible than others. It always depends on the management’s policies, not the website’s.
Check out the articles below that can also help you to plan your trip!