Once you’ve confirmed your travel dates, flights and sights you have in mind to see, the next important step is finding a place to rest your head at night. With what it seems to be 100 different travel sites to book hotels, hostels, and homestays it can be intimidating to find the right place — especially when traveling to a country where you can’t speak the language. Regardless of where you choose to stay: hotel, hostel, or homestay, read below for tips on how to make the best choice.
1. Do research
While I’m sure you’ve researched the state or country you plan to visit, be sure to look into the places or events you are planning to see while you’re there. Find out when these things open, how much they cost, and if you can take public transportation to get to them such as metro or bus. Also, find out generally if the city you are visiting is expensive. This may help you determine whether it is better to stay in a hotel versus a hostel or a homestay. Which brings me to my next tip…
2. Compare prices
If you know that the city you are visiting is generally expensive, you may get more for your money to stay in a hostel or homestay compared to a hotel. Depending on your budget, paying less to be in a bunk bed or have a host family may be more economical than daily turndown service and a jacuzzi. My favorite way to do this is through Airbnb, whose rates are often lower per night than popular hotels in the area.
If you’re staying in an area that’s relatively cheap, a hotel may be the better choice. Hostels often have you sharing rooms with strangers and homestays might be less than pleasant if the family is unfriendly and/or doesn’t meet your sanitary needs. With hotels, you can know what to expect daily, and if you’re visiting another country and don’t speak the language there’s likely staff who can communicate with you to take care of your needs.
3. Pick a location near transportation
Unless you’re visiting a place where everything you’re seeing is in one area, it’s best to find a place near the city’s metro (ideally a block or two away from the closest stop). This is why step one, do your research, is so important. If your research finds that all of the events and locations you plan to visit are all accessible via a city’s metro redline, the best place to stay would be near the redline. If the city doesn’t have a metro system, then the bus or taxi station is your best bet.
Being a tourist is hard enough, but once you master one metro system the rest are generally the same. When taking taxis, have the front desk of your hotel or your host family write down the address of where you’re going so you can show the driver. Before you leave, grab a business card from the front desk or have the family write down the address of the home you’re staying in. Getting lost to where your going is one thing, but forgetting the name of your hotel or the street your homestay on is even worse.
4. Refine your search
Whether you’re searching for a homestay, hotel or hostel you should refine your search. Most sites have a sidebar where your can narrow down what you’re looking for in the place you stay. This tool can help rid you of options out of your price zone so you can find what you’re looking for, faster. I recommend keeping the map view option open or have google maps open in a separate tab with the public transportation shown, that way you can see where each hotel is in relation to each other and where you plan on visiting.
Other amenities I check when searching for a place to stay are free wifi, free airport transportation, and landmarks I want to be near during my stay.