Travel tips for absolute beginners: how to pick accommodations

Travel tips for absolute beginners. How to pick accommodations | Luxuriously Thrifty

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Airbnb has exploded in popularity over the last few years. When I first started traveling, there were only hotels, hostels, Inns, and B&B’s to stay in, unless you had friends and family across the globe. Now, there’s a myriad of options out there for accommodations, including my absolute favourite: castles.

Yep, you can stay in a legitimate castle on your next trip; I always knew I was made for that Castle Life and now I can rent one while abroad! Most do require extended stays, but with some castles, you get experiences like riding a horse through the rolling valley, pretending you’re a princess on her way to meet her very forbidden lover.

It’s easy to get swept away in the idea that you’ll have a better stay in a unique abode while you’re traveling (much like I just did above), and sometimes, it can be true. There’s nothing more wonderful than coming home to your apartment in Paris after a day of museums, shopping and cafe au laits. There’s also an ugly side of apartment rentals and that’s the fact that it’s pushing locals out of their actual homes. All so we can stay and pretend that we’re a local.

I’ve written about the cons of renting an apartment abroad for the renter here.

There are a lot of things to think about when you’re travelng, whether you’re doing it in a sustainable matter (more info here), whether you’re hurting animals in animal tourism (more info here), and now whether or not your accommodation is ruining the landscape of the beautiful city that you are visiting in the first place.

Even still through all of the bad press both hotels and apartment rentals get, it seems as if there are only two options when booking a place to stay nowadays: hotels or airbnb. But, that’s not true. There are so many types of accommodations to choose from, so let’s run down the list of them all, shall we?

Travel tips for absolute beginners. How to pick accommodations | Luxuriously Thrifty

So, hostels can be a bit….young. If you’re over a certain age (honestly, 24) they may not be the best place for you. But, that also depends on the type of hostel you choose and your personality. Me? I’ve always hated the idea of hostels. Sharing a room with strangers, listening to them snore and fart all night long? I’d rather be left alone with my own snoring and farting, or at least my friend’s.

Hostels are popular for a reason: they’re cheap. If you’re set on seeing the world with only a few dollars in your pocket, a hostel will be your best option. Luckily, you don’t have to share a room with strangers, if you don’t want to. You can bump yourself up to a private room for an extra fee and feel a little safer. The bathrooms are still shared, of course, but unless you get diarhhea, you probably won’t be spending a lot of time in there, anyways.

Hostels will have a common room where you can hang out and meet other travelers, plus a kitchen you can make up your own meals. It’ll be busy a lot of the time, and you most likely won’t be roasting duck in an orange sauce in there, but it provides you a great place to eat a piece of toast or make some sandwiches to go before you go out exploring.

Look for hostels will good reviews and in neighbourhoods that you’ll feel safe walking around. There are a few that give you an experience within an experience, like staying at Lucky Lake Hostel just outside of Amsterdam. I absolutely loved this place and was ready to sleep the night away with strangers until they messed up our reservation and my friend and I got our very own camper to sleep in. Even though it’s a hostel and hostels are very much youth-oriented, I would still stay in this hostel as it had access to other fun activities like bike rentals, kayaking, a beach, playground, and easy-access to Amsterdam and smaller towns.

If a hostel isn’t your thing (and I totally feel you on this one), but you really want to save some money, try a hostal.

A hostal is very similar to a hostel in that it is accommodations pared right down to the basics. My husband and I stayed in one during our honeymoon and it was, honestly, nicer than some hotels we stayed in. Hostals will be in popular neighbourhoods right in the thick of things or with easy-access to tourist attractions. They won’t necessarily have a kitchen or common room, but you’ll have your own private bathroom and a concierge to help point you in the right direction. It’s a little bit more expensive than a hostel, but still very cheap (I think we paid around $40/night). The hostal we stayed in: Woohoo Chueca, Madrid.

Sometimes, you want a little bit of charm with your stay. Inns are the perfect place to get that whimsical charm. Inns aren’t quite B&B’s and aren’t quite hotels. They’re full of character and are a little more comforting than a hotel. Think eccentric Gilmore Girls, and for how luxuriously they can get: Fogo Inn in Newfoundland.

Before there were apartment rentals all over the place, I stayed in a B&B in Scotland because it was much cheaper than a hotel and much better than a hostel. It was a simple house with a simple room and a private bathroom. We didn’t have to eat with other guests, there were no excursions booked, we simply came and went as we pleased. If you’re booking a B&B, contrary to what every television show tells you, you don’t have to be connected to the accommodation every minute of the day. B&B’s can be a great place to stay for a reasonable amount of money and act as a sort of cozier and more personal hotel.

Travel tips for absolute beginners. How to pick accommodations | Luxuriously Thrifty

Hotels can be a pain for some, perfect for others, and absolute luxury for those lucky enough to have the funds to pay the room rates. Staying in a hotel is a perfect choice if you’re staying for a short period of time. Just need a place to lay your head while you stop in for 24 hours? Book a hotel. You won’t have to worry about going to the market to buy some food, worry about shared bathrooms or beds, worry about missing out on the charm of an Inn because you’re not around to explore the grounds. Hotels are there for the convenience factor.

Luxury or standard?

Well, that depends on your budget and what type of vacation you prefer. I absolutely love to book a luxurious hotel stay for at least a night or two on each trip. It recharges your batteries and makes you feel refreshed and new, ready to take on more tourist attractions. I also love getting pampered and book a spa stay at the same time. That, in itself, is an attraction to me and a huge part of my trip.

Look for hotels that are close to tourist attractions and not close to the airport. If you’re catching a flight the very next day, an airport hotel is a suitable option. But, if you’re staying for a few nights, the hectic scene of being near an airport can ruin the vibe of your trip. Instead of relaxing and enjoy the sights, you’ll be stressed to the max with taxis and transportation and people and airplanes taking off every two minutes.

If you’re visiting a country that you don’t feel comfortable renting an apartment in, or are unsure of how you would get to the markets every day, just book the damn hotel. My husband and I booked hotels and/or Riads for our entire trip in Morocco. Usually, I stay in apartments with a brief hotel and spa visit thrown in. I felt like I was betraying myself by staying in a hotel, and that I was acting prissier than need be, but it was so much easier. We were fed in the mornings, some all throughout the day, they took care of us and pointed us in the right direction and gave us tips on where to eat. You know, the places that won’t have you reaching for the Immodium. We were even let into a Riad at 4:30 in the morning and given a place to sleep (well, in a private dining room, but it was 4:30. She did what she could with a full guesthouse). That’s something that wouldn’t have been possible if we had rented an apartment.

Hotels are popular for a reason: they’re convenient and leave you feeling safe and secure. If you’re ready to travel the world, but aren’t yet ready to dive right into self-suffinciency while abroad, book a hotel! And, don’t feel bad about it.

Travel tips for absolute beginners. How to pick accommodations | Luxuriously Thrifty

Apartment Rental
Here we are. The biggest and most trendy type of accommodation there is out there. Apartment rentals have become so popular over the last couple of years and for good reason. They’re a great place to feel like a local, you can save money and make your own meals, and they’re easier to share than a hotel room.

The best places to rent: Airbnb. Housetrip. Tripadvisor Rentals.

While apartment rentals are my go-to choice for nearly every trip I take, they may not be right for you. There are times, like in Morocco, where it was much easier to just book a hotel. If you’re only staying for one night, it may not be worth it to meet your host and get groceries to make meals; instead, you may want to opt for a convenient and comfortable hotel.

Quick pros of apartment rentals:

  • you can make your own meals, saving you money on eating in restaurants
  • they’re easy to share with friends and/or family
  • they make you feel like a local
  • they’re, usually, much larger than a single hotel room

Quick cons of apartment rentals:

  • you have to make your own meals. This is a pro if you like to cook or if you’re big on saving money, but if you want to fully relax, then this may be a con for you
  • you have to clean up after yourself. There is no maid service that comes in daily to make your bed or clean the bathroom or will do the dishes for you.

Deciding on the type of accommodation you would like to stay in all depends on your budget and your style of travel. You may not know how you want to travel just yet, and may want to stick with hotels. Or, you may want to only stay in apartments, or save money with a hostel. The thing about traveling is you can do it all, even if it doesn’t turn out well. You’ll make mistakes and that’s okay. Travel bloggers, those who travel all or a lot of the time, all make mistakes on trips. It’s how we learned and how we can give great tips to our readers. If you stay in a hostel and decide you hate it, then you know next time they’re off your list! If you like the idea of mixing each type of accommodation depending on your location, then do it!

Traveling is all about exploring new things and figuring out what works for you. Backpacking has never worked for me, but it works so well for others. Hostels are my least favourite type of accommodation, but I’ve found one that made my stay better than I could have imagined. There are so many accommodation options out there in each type listed above, so always read reviews and take chances. Sometimes, it ends up being the dream vacation you’ve always wanted. And, sometimes, it ends up not looking a thing like the photos online. But, that’s okay. That’s the fun of traveling.

Travel tips for absolute beginners. How to pick accommodations | Luxuriously Thrifty

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