Accommodation Hacks

When working within a budget while traveling, accommodations are usually the biggest drain on your funds (except for the occasional crazy night out). There are a few ways to soothe the pain of paying more than you expected for a hotel or hostel.

User reviews

They exist for a reason! A few minutes perusing the reviews can tell you about the value of the facility. You’ll know quickly if the location is central, if the staff is nice, or if the free breakfast is any good (or if they have free breakfast at all!).

a well-stocked Kitchen at hi san diego downtown

Well-stocked kitchen at HI San Diego Downtown

Kitchen!

Does the property have a kitchen or a place to prepare food? This feature can and will save you money on meals.  Buying some cheap and easy to store groceries for some light meal-prep will definitely save you some cash.

[Pro Tip] Once you’re there, scope our the fridge: most hostels have a labeling policy. Loads of hostelers buy groceries to cook and then leave extras for other people to use- so keep your eyes open for anything labeled “FREE”

Promo codes

Its rare,  but it can happen that larger facilities or chains offer promotional rates. It could be something that is used like a coupon code or a promotion like “Stay X-nights and get a night free.” Keep your eye out for these deals, because they’re not often well-advertised.

An activities calendar

Lots of hostels offer either hostel-run activities or discounted admission into local attractions. When shopping for accommodations, see if the property offers free events and activities. This is a way of seeing your destination without having to meticulously plan an itinerary (and anyone who has traveled extensively knows how exhausting it can be having to map out each day– especially if you’re solo).

Note: If they offer activities/tours/events, they probably have a few area-experts kicking around. These people would be great (free) resources and can share which places are “must see” versus “meh.”

Work-for-stay

Its not quite as common in the US, but some places offer a work-for-stay deal. Many I’ve seen require a certain number of hours each day or each week, but offer a free bed and some offer a free meal or two. A couple popular sites are Work Away and HelpX.

Breakfast

Typical hostel breakfast

Typical hostel breakfast

My #1 tip is to always book accommodations that offer free breakfast. You may find that certain cities/destinations don’t offer free breakfast at all. For example, I found that most of the places in Nicaragua did not include breakfast. In that case, find out how to eat like a local. Bigfoot Hostel in Leon was a good example: they offered tour packages, great atmosphere, and reasonable accommodation prices- but no breakfast. BUT, after consulting an employee, we were directed to a local spot immediately next door and paid under US$3.00 each for our meals. 

 

More reading:  Hometown Tourism [Saved My Sanity]

 


  • What is your favorite type of travel accommodation?
  • What kind of tricks do you use to ensure you get the absolute most out of your accommodations?
  • Where have you stayed that has been a great, well-rounded value?
Posted in Budget Travel, How To, Travel, Trip Planning, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

21 Comments

  1. Good tips. I agree having a kitchen is great, it saves so much money, as we can prepare our own food. I also find couchsurfing and home exchange a great way to save on accommodation!

  2. I do love the free breakfasts in hostels – especially the coca tea in South America (helps to combat altitude sickness). But the best freebie I’ve had was wine and cheese night in a hostel in San Fran – the perfect way to get free drinks and snacks and break the ice and meet new people!

    Katie
    http://whatskatiedoing.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. I also love free breakfast! It’s just one less thing to think about in the morning, especially since the food is usually local. I like the idea of asking for breakfast recommendations too.

  4. Good tips! Free breakfast is something I always look for! Sometimes hostels do a free dinner once a week too and that’s a definite draw for me haha!

  5. Great tips and I already use most of them. Having a kitchen is essential to managing expenses and while allowing me to cook with local ingredients. The free breakfast is something that I look for, but not one that is mandatory. What matters most is the quality of the breakfast. The promo codes is something I have recently discovered. I’ve started to use them where applicable and I wish I had known about them before. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Quality of the breakfast is super important- you’re right. Sometimes I’ll have a small snack-breakfast at the hostel and go find something more substantial at a local joint. I very much don’t trust myself to stick to a budget when I’m starving in the morning haha

  6. Great tips – it’s been years since I’ve stayed in a hostel. We travel with kids and tend to stay in AirBnB accommodations solely for the existence of a kitchen!

  7. Great tips! I never get breakfast, though, as I’m lactose intolerant and half the time there’s nothing I can eat. Also don’t forget cashback! You can use websites like TopCashback with some booking sites to get some cashback on the money you would have paid anyway!

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