Wilf on the Alternatives to Hotels When Travelling?
A list of alternatives to hotels when travelling is about as much use as a menu to the restaurant at the end of the universe. If you ain’t going to eat there, why bother reading it.
But if you have asked yourself What? you want from your travels, then perhaps you have opened yourself to the alternatives to hotels when travelling. So Read on …
The Alternatives to Hotels
“What I look For” Point of View
Tents and Caravans
By their very nature, temporary accommodation with all of the inconvenience that entails. Shower Blocks and toilets across the field or chemical toilets and cramped showers. Limited cooking facilities and/or on-site, expensive bars and “restaurants” or alternatively cheap and nasty cafes.
They tend to be outside the main city areas and even beyond the suburbs, which is great if you want a rural setting and have a car but using public transport makes them expensive and a difficult to get to.
On the plus side they do often have extra facilities like entertainment, sporting activities and swimming pool.
At the top end, for that read expensive, the “Glam Camping”, Mobile Homes and Log Cabins are more like Short-Term Renting in out of the way locations.
Bed and Breakfast
At one time bed and breakfasts were the cheap alternative to hotels in every town and city suburb. A room to sleep, breakfast and get out until 5 o’clock, probably with a shared bathroom and probably no towel.
Now Bed and Breakfasts are often rural, quaint and charming, and more expensive than cheaper hotels that have more facilities to offer and a central location. See “They tend to be outside the main city areas”
Motels and Travel Lodges
Hostels and University Rooms
When I first started youth hostelling with the YHA, it was a bed in a dormitory, use of a kitchen and a social area with books, board games and cards. You helped clean up in the morning or were given a chore to do. Getting to a hostel was either a long walk or served well by public transport, two extremes!
Now hostels have changed. Many offer family and private rooms, meals are available and some even have bars. The one thing that has not changed is the social side of being in a hostel, which can now include music, films, games nights and pub crawls. They are still cheaper than a hotel but not as cheap as they were when they were basic shelter.
University rooms can offer all that a good hostel can but often with city locations and local supermarkets and cooking facilities, which makes them “convenient”. They tend not to open-up all of the social facilities that the students would have but often do have laundry facilities in the form of coin-op washing machines, which is useful if it is time to get your kit clean for the next part of an adventure.
Holiday Cottages, Log Cabins, Villas, and top end Tents and Caravans are all available to rent for a week, mid-week or week ends and are mainly rural. A home from home with almost everything you would expect plus some added luxuries like pools, pool tables and hot tubs. They are great for groups but rarely economical for the solo traveller.
Apartments are mostly in the cities and offer the chance to live like a local and experience what a country is like first hand and not as a tourist. This is on on a canal side in Venice. Apart from the very expensive apartments they tend to be in the suburbs and a location near public transport is important.
I like staying with friends but it does not offer the same freedom as commercial accommodation. Home stays and couch surfing are like staying with friends you don’t know. Think of your best friend and then think of “the friend of a friend” you can’t stand. It’s pot luck, you could end up with a new best friend or … You might like to read Wiki on Couchsurfing.
Retreats and Volunteering
You might think Ashrams, Retreats or Volunteering are places to go rather than places to stay while you are travelling but that’s not so. On the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, many of the places to stay include monasteries and religious houses. Volunteering does not have to be for months and many organisations will welcome volunteers for a few days, providing they work and pay their own way. What you gain is simple clean accommodation and what you take away is often a lot more than you arrived with.
Why It’s Worth Considering Alternatives to Hotels
It is worth thinking about the alternatives to hotels, because they can be more convenient, more interesting, and more fun, and cheaper too, which is important when you are travelling on a budget.
Why It’s Not Worth Considering Alternatives to Hotels
In the main, you know what your getting from a hotel. This certainly applies to hotel chains but you can also check-out smaller hotels using the internet. The problem with chain hotels is they all feel the same, no matter what city or country you are in. Smaller hotels often offer a taste of the local culture. It all depends on your preferences for reliability, provided by the big chains to the opportunity to experience the unexpected in small local hotels. I have given my opinion in What to Look For in A Hotel but you must decide for yourself if a hotel is best for this trip.
It is All About What You Want
Finding the perfect place to stay, that gives you what you need, doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have think outside the box or re-examine what you thought you knew already. Do a bit of research and you can find alternatives to hotels when travelling that actually add to your experiences and make travelling a little bit better.