As the new year approaches, and those goals of “travel more” start to loiter in our brains, I thought now would be a great time to help you start making those changes towards True Budget Travel, and seeing the world as I have, on limited money.
One of those ways I save so much money is by staying at youth hostels when I travel the world, or when I hit major cities in the U.S.A. that have them available – Chicago, D.C., L.A., etc.
So, today, I’ll take you through a simple walk-through of what I do to find the best night’s sleep on a super limited budget.
Where to Find the Hostels
I book through Hostelworld or Hostelbookers, but Hostelworld usually offers slightly better prices. I check both, just in case, though. You never know. Plus, some hostels will register with one and not the other, or one site may have a special while the other does not.
On more than one occasion, because of being a faithful member of these sites, I’ve gotten free stays at hostels or gotten amazingly cheap nights. The deals are amazing, seriously. I’ve stayed in Rome for $5 a night, Venice for $6 a night, and Cusco, Peru for $11 per night.
Check the Reviews – Seriously, You’ll Regret it if You Don’t
Always check the reviews given on every location that you’re investigating, and read through all of the amenities. Once you’ve checked out a few listings, make a list of the ones you need/want and go from there. Put in the time to look through at least a few pages worth of listings, and I promise you’ll find a good deal that meets your needs.
How to Choose Your Hostel
So, here’s that run-down, step-by-step.
- Open both hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com in separate tabs to compare prices.
- Scroll through the pages looking for the lowest prices.
- Make a list of the amenities you most need/want and then revisit the sites looking at the lowest prices for hostels with those amenities. Add new ones as you look through the list – but only the must haves that you forgot about initially. If there are some you want, but aren’t mandatory, put those in a second column to tip the scales if a few are close otherwise.
- Click on the five lowest priced hostels and look at the amenities offered.
- Be aware that “airport shuttles” are not always included in the price – some of them do not have their own shuttles, but instead book with expensive companies that charge more than a taxi would. I’ve had this happen before!
- Keep location in mind as you book. While booking outside the city is probably going to be cheaper per night, the time and money spent getting to/from the city needs to considered. Is this difference worth it? If there’s a significant difference, it probably is not worth the $1 per night you save. If it’s a minimal difference and you get a little more exercise, that $1 a night can definitely be worth it.
- These sites require deposits only, so if you’re still saving up for the trip, book ahead (the deposits are usually less than $5, unless you’re staying for several weeks) so that you guarantee your reservation far in advance. This will help you save even more money.
- Check out the reviews for each location. Take them with a grain of salt (I’ve seen some terrible reviews on some great hostels), but read them nonetheless. They will tell you a lot – specifically on how the hostel responds to anything negative comments – that may help with details you can’t learn from the ad.
- You may wish to book hostels when you’re in country, but I recommend against this. Too often I found myself having to stay at significantly more expensive locations when I did this. Do in-country bookings on local tours and transit rather than your lodging. But research what people say about specific locations before waiting on this, too. Some places will be significantly more expensive booked last minute, while others are cheaper booked day of.
- If you’re just looking for a fun vacation and don’t care about specific location, look at the deals offered on the hostels and see if there are any airline deals for the same locations during the dates which you plan to travel. This can actually save you hundreds (or thousands, depending).
What is All Comes Down To
Hostels will save your hundreds of dollars. They’re usually clean, “have character” and offer more possibilities for finding a touring buddy wherever you’re staying. They’re totally worth it, if booked properly. Follow the steps, and keep in mind what you need versus what you want in amenities, and which ones are worth paying a little extra for – like a better location for saving yourself some stress – and which are just “nice to have.”