Choosing the right accommodation is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience. The range of accommodations around the world is incredible, from luxury multi-million dollar resorts, to dorm-room style bunks packed together into common rooms.

What to choose depends on your budget, travel style, and preferences. Whether you prefer the luxury of a high-end hotel, the social atmosphere of a hostel, the homey feel of a guesthouse, or the adventure of camping, there are options to suit every traveler.

Hotels are not the only place to stay. Guest houses, Homestays, Hostels, Elderhostels, YMCA’s and YWCA’s, backpacker hotels and Formule 1’s are all great alternatives to hotels and will generally help you save money! They are also great places to meet fellow travelers and the local people.

You should choose your accommodations on the characteristics of cleanliness, cost, location, security and amenities. Research your options, read reviews, and consider the location and amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay during your international trip.

Your budget will probably be the primary consideration when looking for the type of place to stay. If money is no object, then there are many luxury hotels and resorts to choose from. However, you do not need to spend a lot of money to find a very nice place to sleep. Lodging is available almost anywhere at reasonable prices. All it takes is research, looking around a bit and doing some bargaining.

Other factors to look for are:

  • Is it convenient to transportation so you can easily and inexpensively get around the city?
  • Is it in a secure, not too-noisy location? A place to rest where it’s too noisy to get any sleep isn’t any bargain.
  • Is it close to restaurants and convenience stores
  • Does the hotel have a reputation as a gathering point for fellow travelers and a good information source? If the hotel caters to other travelers with similar interests to you then it can be a great place to meet people and get up-to-date information about the local area.

In the ideal world you want a room that is both comfortable and beautiful that also has a great view. However, don’t judge a place just on it’s rooms - you will also want to take into account the common areas of the hotel - any pools, quiet courtyards and the friendliness and professionalism of the hotel staff.


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Booking Online

Booking hotels online can be a seamless and cost-effective process if you know how to navigate the options available. I start looking at the major booking sites (Agoda, HotelsCombined, Booking.com) to find some good hotel deals. Next I head over to TripAdvisor as I find their reviews pretty reliable. Finally, once I’ve decided on a place or two I go directly to the hotel site and see if they possibly have a better price available. Here are some general tips:

  • Compare Prices on Multiple Platforms: Utilize websites like Trivago, Kayak, and Google Hotels to compare prices across multiple booking platforms. After finding a good deal on a comparison site, check the hotel’s official website to see if they offer a better rate or additional perks for direct bookings.

  • Book Early or Take Advantage of Last-Minute Deals: Booking well in advance can often secure lower rates, especially for popular destinations during peak seasons. If your travel plans are flexible, consider using last-minute booking apps like HotelTonight for significant discounts on unsold rooms.

  • Use Rewards Programs and Loyalty Points: Join hotel loyalty programs such as Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, or IHG Rewards for exclusive member rates and benefits. Use travel credit cards that offer points or cashback on hotel bookings. Redeem accumulated points for free or discounted stays.

  • Be Flexible with Dates and Locations: Slightly altering your check-in and check-out dates can sometimes reveal cheaper rates. Midweek stays are often less expensive than weekends. Consider staying in less central areas or nearby neighborhoods, which can offer lower rates while still being accessible to main attractions.

  • Read Reviews and Check Ratings: Use platforms like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia to read reviews from previous guests. Look for consistent comments about cleanliness, service, and overall experience. Pay attention to recent reviews for the most up-to-date information about the hotel’s condition and service quality.

  • Check the Cancellation Policy: Opt for hotels with flexible cancellation policies in case your plans change. Ensure you understand the terms and any associated fees. While often cheaper, non-refundable rates are risky if there’s a chance you might need to cancel or change your reservation.

  • Use Discount Codes and Promotions: Look for discount codes on sites like RetailMeNot or Honey before completing your booking. Subscribe to newsletters from hotels and booking sites to receive notifications about special offers and exclusive discounts.

  • Look for Hidden Fees: Be aware of additional fees for amenities like Wi-Fi, parking, resort fees, or breakfast. These can add up and significantly increase the overall cost. Ensure the total price includes all taxes and fees before finalizing your booking.

  • Contact the Hotel Directly: Sometimes calling the hotel directly can result in better rates or upgrades, especially if you mention a special occasion or loyalty. Direct communication can also help with special requests like early check-in, late check-out, or room preferences.

  • Secure Your Booking: Ensure you receive a booking confirmation email with all the details of your reservation. Verify all information in the confirmation, including dates, room type, and any special requests, to avoid surprises upon arrival.

Booking sites

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Walk Ins

Finding someplace, anyplace to stay is usually not a problem. The minute you step from a train depot or airport in most cities you will be surrounded by touts flashing hotel pictures and pamplets. Getting a good and reasonably priced place to stay may take a bit more work.

Your guidebook and searching online will probably be more reliable then any touts on recommending a place. Also - don’t forget that you are perfectly capable of finding a good place all on your own. Just go out and look around!

Here are some tips for finding a good place:

  • You can call ahead to the next city to pre-arrange a place to stay - although many times this is only necessary during the peak tourist season or if you want to stay at a particular place.
  • If you don’t have a place pre-arranged - use travel guides, tourist offices or cyber cafes to call to places when you arrive. Tourist offices are a good place as they offer free and generally not-too-biased information.
  • Ask other travelers! They can be your best source of information and recommendations.

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Budget Places

For budget accomodations, the cardinal rule in renting a room is to “see the room first before you accept it!”. While this is not a requirement if you are staying at a luxury resort or hotel - it is a requirement if you are shopping around from hotel-to-hotel to find the best deal. Don’t believe the hotel clerks description - their viewpoint and yours may differ as to what is “spacious”, “clean” or “fantastic”. You also can’t bargain effectively until you’ve seen the room, and seen any problems with it.

Checking the Room

When checking out the room you will of course first notice if the room is clean and beautiful, beyond this there are several things to check:

  • Is the room secure with locks on the doors and windows?
  • Will the room be quiet enough to sleep in? Check if there are disco’s, nightclubs or bars nearby that might make it too noisy to sleep at night.
  • Is the room and bed clean? When you are walking up to the room make a general assessment of how clean and well-maintained the hotel is. It is no fun waking up to a floor full of cockroaches in the bathroom.
  • Check the beds. Are they comfortable and clean? Is it soft enough and long enough to sleep in? Also, if you are staying in budget accommodations then you may want to check under the sheets for bedbugs.
  • In the tropics or hot weather, check the cooling situation - fan or aircon. In cold climates the same goes for the heating situation.
  • If you are in a malarial area then you also want to check there is something to deal with mosquitoes. Whether this is a mosquito net, mosquito coils or some other protection - make sure you won’t become a night-time snack.
  • Check the bathroom situation - is it clean, does it have a western style toilet and shower? Finally, check about hot water.

Bargaining

When bargaining the following factors can work in your favor:

  • If you are staying for several nights, especially 3 or more - then you can usually get the room for less.
  • In the off season, or during prolonged periods of bad weather or other factors affecting tourism.
  • When the hotel has lots of vacancies (check how many room keys are hanging on the wall).

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Hotels

Hotels offer a wide range of accommodations from budget to luxury, providing travelers with amenities such as room service, housekeeping, fitness centers, and restaurants. They are ideal for those seeking comfort, convenience, and a variety of services in one location, with options available in almost every city around the world.

For many of us, staying in a hotel has at least one major advantage: You know what to expect. They have the most creature comforts, sense of security and familiarity. Hotels are seen as the reliable, familiar and safe choice. In terms of price you are looking at one of the most expensive options on teh list. However they also have the best amenities and certain travel-oriented credit cards may even offer rewards points to offest the costs, plus there are brand loyalty programs as well.

  • Pros: Among the more comfortable and venient types of loding availabe worldwide. Many hotels are chains that have teh same level of amenities and quality control so you generally know what you are getting. Good for traveler’s who don’t mind paying more for upscale nicities, comfort, convenience and predictability.
  • Cons: Among the more expensive types of lodging. They’re often impersonal and lack character. Not for those who want cultural immersion.

Hotel Booking Sites

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Hostels

Hostels are budget-friendly accommodations that often feature shared dormitory-style rooms and communal areas. They are perfect for backpackers, solo travelers, and those looking to meet other travelers. Hostels typically offer a social atmosphere, with communal kitchens, lounges, and organized activities.

Hostels typically offer shared rooms with bunk beds, communal bathrooms, and common areas. They cater to travelers of all ages, though they are particularly popular with young people and backpackers. Hostels can vary widely in terms of size, amenities, and atmosphere, but they generally emphasize affordability, social interaction, and a laid-back vibe. Hostels offer some of the cheapest lodging options, making them ideal for budget travelers. Dormitory beds are often priced much lower than hotel rooms.

Hostels are known for their social environment. Common areas like lounges, kitchens, and game rooms encourage interaction among guests, making it easy to meet new people and share travel experiences. Many hostels organize social events such as pub crawls, city tours, and group dinners, fostering a sense of community and making it easy to explore the local area with others.

Hostels are often located in central or popular areas, close to public transportation, attractions, and nightlife, providing easy access to what the city has to offer. Also, hostel staff are usually well-informed about local attractions, transportation, and insider tips. Many hostels also offer travel services such as tour bookings, bike rentals, and airport transfers.

Tips

  • Cleanliness: Keep shared spaces tidy and clean up after yourself in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Noise Levels: Be mindful of noise, especially during late hours, to ensure a pleasant stay for everyone.
  • Use Lockers: Always use lockers to secure your valuables.
  • Stay Aware: Be aware of your surroundings and follow the hostel’s safety guidelines.

Dormitory-Style Rooms

Dormitory style rooms in hostels are shared accommodations that offer an economical and social lodging option. These are perfect for backpackers and solo travelers looking to meet others and save money, with shared facilities and communal spaces enhancing the social experience. You will probably want to bring some earplugs and eye mask for better sleep.

  • Pros: Very affordable, social atmosphere, great for meeting other travelers.
  • Cons: Less privacy, potential for noise.

Private Rooms

Private rooms in hostels combine the social atmosphere of a hostel with the privacy of a hotel room. They are ideal for travelers who enjoy the hostel vibe but prefer their own space, providing a comfortable and affordable option.

  • Pros: Affordable with some privacy, social atmosphere.
  • Cons: Basic amenities, less private than hotels.

Hotels Sites

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Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals, including apartments, houses, and villas, offer a home-like experience for travelers. These accommodations are ideal for families, groups, or anyone seeking more space and privacy. Vacation rentals often come with kitchens and living areas, allowing for a more personalized and flexible stay.

Apartments and Houses

Fully furnished properties rented out for short-term stays. Apartment and house rentals offer travelers the comfort of home, with more space and amenities such as kitchens and living areas. These accommodations are perfect for families, groups, or long-term stays, providing flexibility and a local living experience.

  • Pros: Home-like environment, more space, kitchen facilities, good for families or groups.
  • Cons: Varies in quality, may lack hotel services like daily housekeeping.

Airbnb

Platform for renting unique accommodations, from apartments to villas. Airbnb provides a variety of accommodations ranging from single rooms to entire homes, often at competitive prices. It is ideal for travelers looking for unique, local experiences and the ability to choose from a wide range of properties to suit different needs and budgets.

  • Pros: Wide variety of options, local experience, often more affordable than hotels.
  • Cons: Quality and service can vary, less standardized.

Vacation Rental Sites

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Guesthouses & B&Bs

Guesthouses and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) provide a more intimate and personalized experience, often in a home-like setting. These accommodations typically offer a cozy atmosphere, homemade breakfasts, and the chance to interact with local hosts. They are perfect for travelers looking for a more personal touch and local insights.

Guesthouses

Small, privately-owned accommodations often offering a homey atmosphere. Guesthouses offer a more intimate and personal lodging experience, often run by local families. They provide a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, ideal for travelers seeking a homey environment and local insights during their stay.

  • Pros: Personal touch, often include breakfast, good value.
  • Cons: Limited amenities, fewer rooms.

Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs)

Similar to guesthouses, Bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) combine comfortable lodging with a homemade breakfast, often in a charming, home-like setting. These accommodations are perfect for travelers looking for personalized service and a more relaxed, intimate stay.

  • Pros: Personalized service, often charming and unique.
  • Cons: Limited facilities, potential for less privacy.

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Resorts

Resorts offer an all-inclusive experience with extensive amenities and activities on-site. These accommodations are ideal for those seeking relaxation, entertainment, and luxury. Resorts often feature pools, spas, restaurants, and recreational activities, making them perfect for family vacations, romantic getaways, and leisure travelers.

All-Inclusive Resorts

All-inclusive resorts offer a worry-free vacation experience with all meals, drinks, and activities included in the price. They are ideal for travelers seeking convenience, relaxation, and a variety of on-site amenities without having to plan every detail.

  • Pros: Hassle-free experience, extensive amenities and activities.
  • Cons: Can be expensive, less opportunity to explore outside the resort.

Beach and Spa Resorts

Beach and spa resorts focus on providing relaxation and wellness, often located in scenic coastal areas. These accommodations are perfect for travelers looking to unwind with beach access, spa treatments, and a serene environment.

  • Pros: Luxurious amenities, beautiful locations, comprehensive services.
  • Cons: Expensive, may be isolated from local attractions.

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Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are small, stylish accommodations that focus on personalized service and unique design. They are often independently owned and offer a distinct, local charm. Boutique hotels are perfect for travelers seeking a more intimate and individualized experience with attention to detail and character.

  • Pros: Unique atmosphere, personalized service, often located in trendy areas.
  • Cons: Can be pricey, fewer rooms.

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Homestays

Homestays provide travelers with the opportunity to stay with a local family in their home. This type of accommodation offers a cultural exchange and a chance to experience daily life in the destination. Homestays are ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture and gain authentic insights.

  • Pros: Authentic cultural experience, affordable, includes home-cooked meals.
  • Cons: Less privacy, varying comfort levels.

Homestay Sites

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Camping & Glamping

Camping offers a chance to connect with nature and experience the great outdoors. From tent sites to RV parks, camping accommodations range from basic to fully equipped facilities. It is perfect for adventurous travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those looking for a budget-friendly option.

Traditional Camping

Traditional camping offers a back-to-nature experience with accommodations ranging from tents to basic cabins. It is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a budget-friendly option to enjoy natural settings and outdoor activities.

  • Pros: Close to nature, budget-friendly, adventurous.
  • Cons: Basic facilities, weather-dependent.

Glamping

Glamping, or glamorous camping, combines the adventure of camping with the comfort of luxury accommodations. These sites often feature amenities like comfortable beds, electricity, and private bathrooms, perfect for those who want to experience nature without sacrificing comfort.

  • Pros: Comfortable and stylish, combines nature with comfort.
  • Cons: Can be expensive, limited locations.

Glamping Sites

HipCamp

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Specialty Logding

Specialty lodging includes unique and unconventional accommodations such as treehouses, yurts, houseboats, and eco-lodges. These options provide a memorable and distinctive stay, perfect for travelers seeking something out of the ordinary and a one-of-a-kind experience.

Eco-Lodges

Eco-lodges are accommodations designed to have minimal environmental impact, often located in natural settings. They are ideal for environmentally conscious travelers looking to enjoy nature responsibly and support sustainable tourism practices.

  • Pros: Sustainable, unique experience, close to nature.
  • Cons: Can be remote, varying levels of luxury.

Treehouses

Treehouses offer a unique and whimsical lodging experience, often set in scenic, forested areas. These accommodations are perfect for travelers seeking an adventurous and memorable stay close to nature.

  • Pros: Unique and adventurous, great views.
  • Cons: Limited availability, can be pricey.

Houseboats

Houseboats provide a unique way to stay on the water, often with all the amenities of a traditional home. They are ideal for travelers looking for a distinctive and tranquil experience, often with scenic views and the gentle rocking of the water.

  • Pros: Unique experience, scenic locations.
  • Cons: Limited space, potential for motion sickness.

Besides country specific sites where you are most likely to find unique lodging, AirBnB has Categories for unique types of rentals including Barns, Castles, Windmills, Houseboats, Cabins, Caves, Houseboats, Treehouses and Yurts.

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