There seems to be two types of people on the travelling circuit – those who book accommodation and those who do not. I can safely say that we have dabbled in both categories, and it seems to depend on the destination as to whether we book accommodation or not! There are so many accommodation booking sites out there and so many different types of accommodation from hostels to AirBnBs to hotels to couchsurfing – the opportunities are endless!
During our travels around Southeast Asia and Nepal we never booked accommodation. It was easy to just show up our next destination and find a place to stay based on the location we liked and the walk in price. In all our travels we’ve only ever been stuck without accommodation twice – once in Lumbini, Nepal (there was a festival on we didn’t know about – we slept on a guesthouse roof) and once in Yangon, Myanmar (we got a room eventually, it was just a very dodgy place – someone had engraved ‘hotel skanky’ onto the wall if that gives you an idea).
For our recent trip to Japan however, we booked our accommodation when we knew we wanted to move on – so usually about 2-3 days before arriving in the next city. As Japan was expensive we wanted to make sure we weren’t paying exorbitant prices, and we found AirBnB to be the most affordable way of doing this.
We’ve spent many, many hours researching accommodation over the years, so to make it easier for all of you we have put together a list of the top 5 websites we use when looking for cheap accommodation. So in no particular order:
1. Hostel Bookers
Hostel Bookers is a great way to find cheap hostels, hotels and guesthouses with honest reviews. During our time in Vietnam in 2012 we would use this site to book accommodation, however since then we just used it to locate clusters of hostels or find a few we liked, then just show up on the day and see if they had any rooms. The only downside we’ve found is having to pay the 10% deposit when you book, then some hostels not honouring the fact you’ve already paid that 10%. It’s only happened a couple of times and it was only a few dollars, however quite frustrating that some hostel owners were taking advantage of the system the way they were.
2. Hostel World
Hostel World is basically identical to Hostel Bookers just run by a different company. We always checked both sites to see if one was cheaper than the other, however usually they were practically identical. They have the same system where you pay the 10% deposit and also have lots of honest reviews and guest pictures.
Ah the amazing website that is Airbnb! We absolutely love Airbnb and so far it has not let us down. We use it a fair bit in Australia and also travelled through Japan staying in Airbnbs in all but one town (there was a hotel that was cheaper). We found in Japan it was considerably cheaper that other accommodation options plus we got fully self contained apartments, whereas if we had booked a hotel room we would have spent far more money eating out on top of the room cost.
There are some Airbnb horror stories floating around, however there are horror stories with whatever type of accommodation you use. We always pick places with reviews or if they are newly listed properties will make sure we have plenty of contact with the owner prior to turning up on the day. I’d highly recommend giving Airbnb a go at some point on your travels as it’s a great way to live like a local in a different country, especially if you stay in a less touristy area of the city, and can often work out to be considerably cheaper than a hotel. If you use this link to sign up (https://www.airbnb.com.au/c/clared1146), you’ll get a $50 discount on your first booking of $100 or more. I will also earn some travel credit for my next Airbnb adventure!
Trivago is a comparison site that combines all of the different booking websites into one place – it’s brilliant! You search your location and it will come up with a list of available hotels for your specified dates, then on the right it lists the prices through the different booking sites so that you know you are getting the best deal. Websites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Agoda, Expedia, Wotif and Lastminute.com are all included as well as the hotels site itself and other deal sites like Flight Centre. You click on the deal you want and then end up booking through that site, not directly through Trivago. We love it and use it all the time if we’re looking for more hotel style accommodation!
I have to admit I’ve never actually done couchsurfing, although I have had an account for years! As James and I are living with our parents at the moment in order to save, we can’t really host either although that’s something I would love to do in the future! I love the concept of couchsurfing, and you don’t actually have to stay with other people if you don’t want to – you can use it to meet up with people for coffee and they can show you around their city. If anyone has experiences using couchsurfing please let me know in the comments as I’d love to hear your stories!
Please let me know in the comments if you’ve used any of the above websites as I’d love to hear your experiences – good or bad! We also have a Facebook page so give us a like in order to keep up to date with our adventures and any new travel trips!
Happy travels 🙂