World Travel 101: Part 5 – Accommodations

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Choosing the right place to stay could set the tone of your entire vacation.  So set your goals, determine your comfort zone, and create your budget to narrow down your options.

World Travel 101: Part 5 Where To Stay

Where Should You Stay?

Let’s take a look at some of the choices that may be available at your destination.

World Travel 101 – Index

Staying in Hotels

Finding a Hotel That Fits Your Needs

There are lots of sites to help you find hotels.  I typically use Google Hotel Finder,, and for paid stays.  Award Mapper or Hotel Hustle are great sites for award nights with points.  These sites compare prices and location.

Once I’ve picked a few options, I check out TripAdvisor or a guidebook for reviews and photos to make my final decision.

How to Earn Free Hotel Nights

You don’t have to spend a fortune to stay in a world class hotel.  I prefer to stay for (close to) free!  Earning hotel points and perks from credits cards can save you lots of money on hotels.  If you’re new to earning miles and points for cheap travel, see my Beginner’s Guide.

Here are a few of my favorite hotel credit cards that will give you free night:

  • Citi Hilton Reserve – 2 free weekend nights at almost any Hilton hotel when you spend $2,500 on purchases within the 1st 4 months of opening an account
  • Chase Hyatt – 1 free night in a category 1 to 4 hotel each card anniversary

With certain cards you also get perks like automatic hotel elite status for free breakfast and more.  Sign up for hotel loyalty programs and google free status.  Sometimes the hotel chain will have special offers that can save you money, such as free breakfast and internet!

Give Hotel Alternatives a Try

Want to get off the beaten path and mingle with the locals?  Then getting away from the chain hotels is the way to go.  And if you’re paying for your stay, you’ll likely save money as well.

1.   Airbnb

With Airbnb, folks rent out their rooms, apartments, or houses to travelers like you! They are not bed and breakfasts like the same suggests.

It can be cheaper than what you would pay for similar accommodations at a hotel.  Renting a home on Airbnb is also a great option for families or those traveling in a group.  And if you want to meet locals, your Airbnb post could be a good source.  Just check the reviews or message the hose to gauge their level of interaction.

And there are some very unique places to rest your head at night!

World Travel 101: Part 5 Where To Stay

Live Like a King in the Chateau de Barnay Outside of Burgundy, France

2.   Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is more of an experience in cultural immersion.  You connect with locals on the site and stay with them for FREE!

You may have to sleep on their couch, or they may have an air mattress or a private room for you.  The idea is you get to know them, they show you around town, and you get to experience what daily living is like in your destination.

World Travel 101: Part 5 Where To Stay

Don’t Let the Name Fool You, You Won’t Necessarily Sleep on the Couch! Many Hosts Open Their Spare Bedroom to Guests!

3.   Camping

Many countries have campgrounds where you can put up a tent or park an RV and get some rest.  Enjoy the fresh air and meet new people, all for a small fraction of the price of what you’d pay for a hotel.

World Travel 101: Part 5 Where To Stay

Sometimes All You Need Is a Sleeping Bag and the Stars

But keep in mind, you’ll need to either pack your gear and bring it with you or buy it when you arrive.  This could bring your costs up and turn out to be a hassle for some folks.

4.   Hostels

You won’t find room service or spa treatments at a hostel.  What you will get is a roof over you head and a bed for a cheap price!

Most hostels look much like a college dorm with a bare room and bunk beds.  But many offer private rooms as well.

The best part about hostels is that it’s a fantastic way to meet people, but keep in mind that most travelers who stay in hostels are in their early to mid twenties. and are great websites to find and book hostels.

World Travel 101: Part 5 Where To Stay

Re-Live Your College Days! Many Hostels Coordinate Social Activities and Offer Free Internet

Hostels typically run ~$15 to ~$75 per night, potentially more if you want a private room.  They can be a great deal if you don’t mind living in close quarters with strangers and want to meet fellow travelers.

Bottom Line

Where you stay during your trip largely depends on your budget, personality, and destination.

I usually prefer to stay in hotels using hotel points and free night certificates.  That’s because it’s fun for Emily and me to “splurge” using our points on a suite for special occasions.

But Airbnb, Couchsurfing, camping, and hostels are also good options.

Make your choice based on your budget (in points or dollars) and the experience you’d like to have!

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7 responses to “World Travel 101: Part 5 – Accommodations

  1. The club carlson card just changed their policy and will no li ge be giving the second night free soon.

  2. We go to England twice a year for a month to visit family and friends. We find renting a self catering property to be very inexpensive depending about where you are and how fancy you want your accommodation to be. A bungalow by the sea, a cottage in the country, or flat in town. They even have unique properties like lighthouses or castles. We spend a week or so exploring each area at a cost that is often about half the cost of hotels.

  3. You forgot Marriott also gives an annual free night certificate.

  4. What about Bed and Breakfasts? Although I’ve never stayed in one I see certificates you can purchase.

  5. I used hostels during a Eurotrip through Spain, Italy and London a few years back and I actually really enjoyed the experience. Most do offer same sex rooms which can add to comfort and one I stayed at in Rome was actually all female.

    When traveling I usually think about the purpose of the trip as a whole to determine what kinda of stay would be ideal. In Dubai, I kinda felt like splurging on a 5 star luxury hotel was perfect for what I had in mind.

    Where you stay is the biggest part for me and this is why it’s always the most dreaded part of planning my trips since it can make or break the entire experience.

  6. When we stay in cities, we almost always rent an apartment. We find the neighborhood we want – not the central tourist zone, good public transport options – and most cities have lots of services catering to travelers looking for this kind of thing. We’ve had great success with this, from Budapest to Buenos Aires, and it’s really nice to start the day in the local coffee shop rather than being in a giant hotel with a bunch of other tourists. Just another viewpoint.

  7. Thanks for the feedback! I hosted my first couchsurfer a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time! I’m open to trying couchsurfing more in the future. I met a wonderful new friend and you can’t beat the price (free)!