My Top 3 Accommodation Sites
Where you sleep plays a huge role in how much you will enjoy your trip. With research, you'll find a huge variety of clean, safe, and cool accommodations without blowing your entire budget on a bed.
When I'm arriving to my destination, I'll always have my first 2 nights booked ahead of time. Start your trip off smoothly by planning ahead to know exactly where you are going when you leave the airport. Book two nights so you'll be able to drop off your bags sooner and then enjoy your first evening without needing to rush out the following morning. You'll have the opportunity to explore the city a bit and decide on where you'd like to move if you don't love your current situation.
Also, be sure to note check in times so you don't arrive to a locked door at 01:00. #notfun
These are the resources I use the most (in order of preference) when booking a bed:
I use this site almost exclusively now as it seems to have the biggest selection. Options include hotels, hostels, resorts, glamping, cabanas, and apartments. I've used it to book private rooms in hostels, dorm beds, entire apartments for retreats, and a block of individual rooms for a big group.
Filter your search by location, date, guests, price, distance of city center, or ratings. At a glance, you'll see what type of bed you are seeing the price for, plus any special amenities like free breakfast.
Most properties offer free cancellation on bookings made through Booking.com, which is clutch if you aren't sure about your travel plans yet. For example, I just paid an extra $4 and can cancel my reservation up to 48 hours before check-in. It's a nice way to lock in a good price you've found, but still search around.
Fun perks: After you've made a reservation, Booking.com sends you a location specific travel guide with suggested restaurants, tourist attractions, and car rental deals.
Booking.com also has partners for car rentals, flight searches, and airport taxis.
I should mention Agoda.com. Both Booking. com and Agoda.com are actually part of Priceline, but they operate on slightly different models. Agoda requires that you pay use a credit card to complete the booking and you are technically paying Agoda, who has prepurchased rooms/beds from the properties. Booking.com serves as a search engine so you are ultimately paying the property, which means that you may not need to submit your credit card information until you arrive on site. I've gravitated towards Booking.com, but let me know what you think. Expert World Travel did a good job explaining the difference.
It's a classic and I've been using it since my very first time out of the country in 2008. As the name suggests, you'll only find hostels. Searches are narrowed down in all the expected ways: location, date, guests, price, rating, and distance from city center. You'll see lots of photos and guest reviews. For a small surcharge, you can secure free cancellation on bookings made 7 days out.
Does the word hostel scare you (why did you watch that ridiculous horror movie anyway)? I can preach to the end of the earth about how nice hostels are, but if you still need that little extra, Hostelworld has marked properties for "Divas". They have more amenities and are said to be more comfortable for a little more money.
Fun perk: Each listing shows the countries of other guests staying during your selected date. This is useful if you know you either dig the idea of being around travelers from your home country or if you'd prefer to explore other cultures.
Sometimes once in a lifetime vacations deserve a little extra luxury, you know? Maybe you just want something that has the amenities of home rather than a hotel. Airbnb offers affordable homes, apartments, and private rooms throughout the world. You'll search by location, date and guests and be given a variety of options including entire homes, entire apartments, a room in a hosts' home, and even campervans and glamping. Most properties allow you to use the living room and kitchen.
If you have a travel partner you can share a bed with, definitely check for an Airbnb. It's often cheaper or the same price for you to split a private room than it is for two people to get dorm beds.
Airbnb does a lot for rating their hosts. Some listings earn the Superhost badge for responsiveness, cleanliness, and exceptional service, among other things.
If you are searching for a homestay experience where the host lives in the house, you can usually find private rooms with this condition. Airbnb in some countries also includes hostels that are considered guesthouses, which is a wonderful cultural experience . The platform offers a chat feature so you can get specifics about the house, arrival, and the area by messaging with your host.
The price you see in the search results is not the final price. Airbnb adds a service fee and most hosts also add a cleaning fee. Some properties require a minimum stay.
Fun perk: Airbnb has started offering bookings for activities as well. For example, you can set up cooking classes, boat rides, and coffee tastings in the cities you are searching.
(* Some of these are affiliate links, meaning when you use my referral, I may get a kickback from the company. Please use these links to support me!*)
Check out my Facebook Live Chat about my process for booking a bed.
Which sites do you use to book accommodations? What are your must-have amenities, even when you're on a budget?
Blog/video coming soon on determining which type of accommodation is best for you. Leave a comment and let me know what else you want to learn about travel and lifestyle!