One of the most expensive parts of any travel plan is living expenses. Finding cheap, safe, and fun places to stay when planning your trip is vital. Popularity of such websites as Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, and Orbitz.com shows there’s a demand for a means of finding great places to stay at a reasonable price without the fear of a bad experience. This article should help alleviate your need for these websites and still feel safe.
Are these popular sites bad? Certainly not. But they tend to place you in cheap cookie cutter motels in the touristy end of the city you’re traveling to. If this is your idea of fun, so be it. If you travel long enough, you’ll get bored of the same old boring thing.
Everyone cringes when I mention that I stay at hostels all the time. There appears to be a stigma of dirty dorm rooms with serial killers, crazies and rapists lurking in the shadows of every hostel. This could not be further from the truth.
Most hostels are well run and have the feel of college dorms or even bed and breakfasts more than dirty hippie communes. Hostelbookers.com is a great place to search for hostels in any location. Of course, with any traveling, do a little research.
Look for reviews of that hostel, there is almost always someone who wrote a review somewhere. Tripadvisor.com is a great place to grab different people’s takes on hostels, hotels and any other amenities. Also, do a quick search to see if the area that the hostel is in is a safe area. Hostels are cheap for a reason; the overhead costs are cheaper. Sometimes hostels may be nice but in bad ends of town. Know this before you get there.
Not every town worth traveling to has a hostel. Why not combine seeing an close friend (who lives far away) with a fun trip to a new city? Couch surfing is not just a T.V. sport. However, it is strongly advised not to abuse these friendship privileges or you will lose them.
We have friends in Albania, Texes, Albuquerque, Connecticut, Colorado, Milwaukee, and South Korea. All have made it more than clear we can crash on their couch for a day or two.
Couch Surfing Come with Unspoken Etiquette
Don’t be the hippie friend that mooches off everyone. Call ahead. Tell your friend you are interested in visiting and ask when would be a good time and date. Ask if they know any good places to stay. If you are still invited to stay on their couch, they will insist you stay. If not, do not push.
Secondly, even if you are invited to couch surf, its not a free visit. Bring your own blankets and pillows. Take your friends out to dinner. Invite them along when you go to tour the neighborhood. Use them as tour guides, but reward them with food and free admission to whatever attraction they lead you to.
When in doubt, motels are much more interesting than hotels, and usually much less costly. Not only will you be helping out local small business owners (provided you do not use a major chain like Super 8), but local motels have more charm and interesting management.
The only problem with these gems are that you cannot tell a good one with charm from the roach infested nightmares from a Steven King novel. You win some, you lose some. But then again, I only use motels as a last resort.
Rent is the highest cost in one’s cost of living. So its no surprise that the most expensive part of traveling is the cost of a place to stay. However, it does not have to be as costly as you think. Trying hostels and simply networking and keeping up with close friends can be more fun and certainly cheaper when finding a place to stay when you travel.