Lodging options vary greatly depending on what amenities you are looking for, how many people will be staying with you and where you will be traveling. Here are five basic lodging options that work for any type of traveler. Just make sure you do your research before you book.
Hotels run the gamut from budget to ultra luxury. Even an inexpensive hotel can have fabulous amenities and service you may not find in other lodging options. The hotel pool, concierge and mini bar are just a few of the perks in which you might be interested. Having a hair drying and pillow choices are another benefit of hotel stays. In general, you usually know what you will find in a hotel, at least in the United States: bed, toilet, shower, sink and a window. In many European hotels, showers are shared on the floors and rooms can be quite tiny with single beds. Depending on your price point, you can go up or down with amenities (bathrobes, spa access, balcony, ocean front view, etc.).
There are plenty of vacation rental sites out there tempting you with studio apartments, 1-bedrooms, cottages, houses and even castles. Finding the perfect place for you may take some digging, but the efforts will be worth it. Rentals generally give you more space for your money, a kitchen, and possibly a washing machine, which is essential if you are traveling for more than a few days with kids. Read the reviews to see what others thought of the property. Did they give specifics about the beds, owner attention if there was a problem, location to the things you want to see, etc.? Ask questions and make sure you read the cancellation policy. Many are very restrictive if you need to cancel.
Hostels are known to be inexpensive bare-bones options to rest your head on the road and they’re popular with young backpackers. They range from one or two-bed rooms to dormitories packed with bunks. You typically share a bathroom and shower on a floor with other lodgers. But they can be quite different across the globe. Some are corporately owned, while other are owned by locals. Some allow children, while others don’t. It can be a cheaper type of accommodation, but take a careful look at how you are charged. If you are charged per person, a family may not make out as well at a hostel as they could at a more spacious option. Be mindful of what is included and what isn’t. Read reviews of the hostel before you commit. Make sure you aren’t entering a party zone if you want to have the kids in bed by 8pm. The benefits of hostels are enormous if you find the right fit. Laundry and a kitchen are generally available, plus you and your family will have the opportunity to meet other travelers from around the world.
This can be an extremely cheap way to visit another country and live like a local without paying for your accommodations. Essentially, you are swapping houses with another person, sometimes even cars. The trick is finding a place that you want to visit with someone who wants to visit wherever you live. Those living in metropolitan areas are more likely to be matched. Most times you do have to swap simultaneously, but if it is a second home, some exchangers won’t need to be traveling at the same time. Different agencies can help you find the right match, if you are a little nervous about letting a stranger into your home. Just remember, they are opening their home to you as well.
Another free form of lodging is house sitting. There are many sites that allow owners to post when they will be gone and what type of person they are looking for. Often times you will be asked to look after a pet or two, but nothing excessive, unless that is what you are signing up for, of course. The best part about house sitting is that you are generally thrown into parts of the world you may not have thought to visit. You get to live like a local as you shop at the nearby market, walk the pups to the park, and meet a few of the neighbors.