Finding Cheap Hotels
Obviously, the costs for a place to stay make a big part of your travel budget. Finding cheap hotels is therefore very important when you’re traveling on a budget. But having said that, how can you do this? After arriving at your destinations, it is not easy to find the right budget accommodation.
Especially in the beginning of our world journey, we often suffered from what we called Arrival Stress. It’s a phenomenon that many independent travelers will recognize. In short, it is defined as the uneasy feeling after arriving in a new city, before finding a place to stay.
One method of keeping costs low is to go camping, instead of staying in cheap hotels or hostels. But, reconsider this option before you go. Many destinations do not have camping facilities. There is no need for them, since hotel rooms are so cheap. Only in western countries, camping is a good option.
But, camping also has its disadvantages. Obviously, you need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, a mattress, etcetera. But also realize that campsites are often located far away from where the action is. And if you need to spend the money you saved by camping, on public transport to bring you to the city, that’s no good, is it? So, consider the destinations you would like to visit before you choose to go camping or not.
Will you find a good (and cheap) place to stay? Which transportation do we need to get to a good hotel? Can I trust the people offering budget accommodation, can I trust that taxi driver? You don’t feel comfortable with that heavy backpack on your shoulders. All these insecurities lead to a stressful situation.
What can you do to prevent Arrival Stress. Well, first of all, be prepared. Read your travel guide carefully. Either choose a few good and cheap hotels from your guide, or find the directions to the area where most budget hotels are situated. Second, try to arrive at a convenient time, if possible. Clearly, arrival at night is the worst. But in the morning, chances are that you will have to wait until the afternoon for rooms to become available. And late in the afternoon in peak season isn’t good either, since all available rooms may have been taken. Our advice: arrive in the early afternoon.
Tactics for finding a hotel
After traveling for a while, we learned what the best techniques are to find a hotel and avoid the Arrival Stress. These techniques are especially useful when, for some reason, preparation wasn’t very good, and the time of arrival isn’t good either.
- Find a quiet place to think. Get rid of all the touts yelling around you. When you move to a quiet spot, some of them might follow, but that’s OK. It’s important to move away from the crowd. A crowd is stressful and restrains you from thinking straight.
- Get some basic information. A map, directions to the right area, hotel options, anything. It may even come from touts, as long as you know something before you go.
- Make a plan. Don’t just follow a tout without a back-up plan. Chances are that the place will not be very good. You don’t want to wind up far away from every other hotel, in a bad hotel without anybody willing to take you back.
- Our most important tip: find a restaurant or other place to store your backpack. When you’re with 2 or more, perfect. One will watch over the backpacks, while the other searches for hotels. When you're alone, ask a restaurant owner to watch after your backpack.
- When many good options are full, or you’re too tired to search well, just take the first opportunity, and do a better search the next day.
- Negotiate. It may not be in your nature, but learn to negotiate. Prices drop significantly when you do. It helps to just say you’re looking at more options. While you walk away, the price instantly drops.
With these rules, we got better and better in finding the right place. Arrival Stress now only hits us in extreme situations, at night, not prepared, no information, eerie place. But rule 1 was to avoid those situations, right? In every other situation, we will be able to find cheap hotels.
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