Booking accommodation is a large part of making travel plans. It can be exciting. I personally love looking through all the options as part of the build up to the trip. But it can be difficult…I mean…you never really know what you’re going to get yeah?
The right accommodation can either positively add to your travel or even be a core part of the travel experience. For example staying in an igloo or a yurt. I really want to stay in a yurt!
On the flipside it can negatively impact your experience or even destroy your holiday. A dreadful hostel where you lose sleep but gain bed bugs is likely to breed a feeling of dissatisfaction for the entire place. This makes choosing the right accommodation an important part of your plans. If you want to always choose the best accommodation keep reading…
Things to know before you start searching
There are 5 things you need to know before you start searching so that you have a clear goal of what you are looking for.
1. The purpose of the trip
eg Is it just a 1 night stopover and you want to crash close to the airport? Is it a business trip and therefore needs to be near a specific conference centre? Is it for relaxation so you want a pool bar? Oh yeah…pool bars!
How much cash do you want to spend? Are you backpacking? Flashpacking? Or won’t settle for anything less than luxurious Egyptian cotton and a pillow menu? Once you know your budget you can choose the best accommodation within this budget.
3. Type of accommodation
This is often impacted by who you are and then limited by your budget but it’s still a good idea to have a think about what you ideally want before you start aimlessly looking.
Are you wanting to camp or stay in a cabin? Stay in a mixed dorm with a “party” atmosphere or need a hostel suitable for families? A hotel with a gym, spa and sauna or an AirBnB apartment so you can cook?
4. Travel dates
Bit of a time waster to look without knowing this. Lock in the date and then search.
Research the best locations to stay in before you start looking as it can be overwhelming to figure out which places are in a suitable location once you’re on a hotel search engine’s site. Consider transport costs and the locations of places you want to visit when you do this. In big cities like Rome and Paris or places where cabs are extortionate like Phuket or Langkawi this step is even more important.
Note: I left out who you are booking for…I would hope that’s common sense.
Now you’re ready to choose the best accommodation…
Ask other people
It’s a fab idea to ask your family and friends or anyone you know who has been to your destination. Facebook groups such as Girls LOVE Travel, TRAVEL and Somewhere In-Between can also be a deep, willing source of information. Feel free to ask me too if you can see I’ve been there on the map in the right-hand column of countries I’ve visited.
Get on the search engines
After getting any recommendations from family, friends and contacts the most likely place to search for and book accommodation is going to be on the web. I personally use the below 3 websites as my first points of reference.
- Hotels.com – This includes all types of accommodation from camping grounds through to 5 star hotels. I’m also a huge fan of their loyalty program where you stay 10 nights and get the 11th free.
- Hostelworld.com – If I know I want to stay in a hostel this is the first port of call for me. There is a large selection of hostels with detailed descriptions and no booking fees.
- Air BnB – I love AirBnB at the moment. It has been an absolute life saver for me while booking twin rooms for a 6 week Europe trip in summer at a reasonable price. If you have not used it before you are missing out!! It’s a great way to live like a local and really experience a destination and the hosts are so helpful and professional too. Click here to sign up and receive the equivalent of $29 NZD in FREE CREDIT if you have not used it before.
One you’ve narrowed down your options to 3 or 4…
• Check the client reviews – I personally take these with a grain of salt as you can’t please everyone! But I do check to make sure there are no really common complaints eg thin walls and noise etc
• Review against the criteria you set before you started searching and double check the accommodation against a few other sites to ensure you’ve got the best price eg booking.com
Hot tip!: Go directly to the accommodation’s website to see if it’s cheaper. Obviously this won’t work with Air BnB.
• Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone if there is something that is important to you to check out before or after you book depending on the question.
Some questions you might consider (depending on the accommodation type) that are not always apparent online.
• Is there a push-button shower? (HATE these things!)
• Is WIFI available in all areas?
• Are there large enough lockers for your bag (if staying in dorm)?
• Does one side of the accommodation have a better view or less noise?
• Is the location near public transportation?
• Is breakfast included in your rate?
• How many people share the bathroom?
• Is there courtesy airport transportation?
• How far is the hotel from the beach/convention centre/highway/convert venue?
• Can you reserve a bottom bunk?
If you’ve gone through the above process you should be fairly confident you’ve chosen the best accommodation for the right price and in the ideal location. Book it and start looking forward to your trip! Let me know if you find any absolute gems!