Finding cheap accommodation is one of the main concerns when we are traveling.
How to find cheap accommodation?
How can you pay less for the same accommodation?
I will share with you tips from over five years traveling non-stop around different continents –and keep traveling.
First, you will see some general tips and then I will show you how to find cheap accommodation, step by step.
Tips to find cheap accommodation
Which is the number one option…
No surprise here. The first option is always the internet.
With so many options how you know if you are getting the best deal?
I will explain this option in detail later.
However, in some small towns or villages, accommodations are no in any website.
You need to…
Ask on the spot
The best strategy to find cheap accommodation in small towns or villages would be to go to the backpackers’ area –if any– an ask around.
Some hostel owners are nice enough to recommend you another hostel.
Otherwise, ask other travelers and local people. Especially the ones who have been there.
That’s how I found a nice and cheap hostel in Kuala Lumpur.
It was after I checked out the places recommended in a famous guide book and I didn’t find anything nice and cheap.
When you are dealing directly with the hotel/hostel you can negotiate the price. Some people don’t like it. But in some countries, you have to.
You can bargain especially when you stay more than one night. The longer you stay the cheaper per night.
Ask one town ahead
Because normally we travel North to South, East to West, or the opposite.
So you will meet people coming from the place you are going to.
Why it’s a great strategy?
Because many accommodations in small towns are not listed in any search engine.
As a result, they have fewer guests and they have to compete giving cheaper and better accommodations.
Weekdays or weekends?
In some places, prices triple during the weekend. I remember I was staying in a hostel in Malacca, Malaysia.
The price tripled from Thursday to Friday. The reason is that many people from Kuala Lumpur go there to spend the weekend and there are only a few hostels.
It caught me by surprise. I couldn’t change the place. All accommodations applied similar rates and did the same on weekends –triple the price.
Knowing that you can save some money.
Types of accommodations
I will describe three different types of cheap accommodations. These are the official descriptions.
Be aware that in some countries they mix the names as they please. Always check the room or bed out before you book it.
This is the cheapest accommodation you can get. Although, some countries don’t have or barely have Backpacker Hostels.
This kind of hostels are located near the city center or close to public transport. They are cheaper and simpler than hotels.
You can find services like laundry, kitchen or free wifi.
They are the best way to meet fellow travelers.
You find a different kind of accommodations in a backpacker hostel.
Dorms: share rooms with bunks. Usually from 4 to 12 beds per dorm. The More beds the cheaper. Some earplugs can be handy.
Try to get a bed far from the door. Also, stay away from the bathroom –if there is one inside the dorm. Sometimes it’s a mission impossible.
Normally you will have personal lockers to keep your values –laptop, camera, passport.
For me, a personal locker is a must if I am staying in a dorm.
Single rooms: a small room with a single bed. With a private bathroom or shared bathroom.
Doble rooms: with twin beds or a double. With a private bathroom or shared bathroom.
If you have a travel mate you can share a double room. It’s cheaper than two beds in a dorm.
Some backpacker hostels have a simple breakfast included –a toast with jam.
A kitchen is usually available. Which help you to save a lot of money in expensive countries like Australia.
They offer basic rooms –simple, double or triple– with or without bathroom included.
Normally they have a few rooms. From 4 to 10.
They are quieter than Backpacker Hostels. Also, they have a less social life.
There are wide levels of qualities. From a horror movie room to a dream accommodation.
As always, take a look at the room before you book it.
It’s when you stay in a room inside a house of local people. You can find different styles.
In the Philippines, I stayed in a Homestay. They rented rooms inside the house.
Also, as the business was going well, the family had build two independent rooms outside the house.
You may find some gems. I have found some cheap rooms here.
You can learn more about the local culture. They can even ask you to join them for dinner.
Points to consider
You need to be extra respectful. You stay in someone’s house after all.
For example: Maybe it’s no polite to wear a top or walk without a T-shirt inside the house.
Pay attention at the profile. Maybe there are some rules you don’t like.
“It’s allowed to smoke inside the house.”
Do you want to stay there?
The Best Search Engine To Find Cheap Accommodation
There are many search engines. But which ones give you the best deals?
I will describe the best ones. First, I want to share with you an extra tip about searching online.
Delete your cookies/search history
Website store your data through cookies. If you come back to book the same room they will probably charge you more.
And now the best search engines.
Let’s search for accommodation in Barcelona on the 12th of May 2020 with different search engines.
We will start with Hostelworld.
How to Find Cheap Accommodation with Hostelworld
This is the cheapest search engine for accommodations. On the other hand, Booking has listed more accommodations.
Once you choose “Location“, “Check in-out” and the number of “Guests“, you will have available several filters.
Price: Max Price
Room: Ensuited Room, Tripel Room, Female Dorm, Single, Family Room, Twin, Double Room.
Facilities: Wifi, Parking, Free Breakfast, Swimming Pool, Bar.
Rating: min rating. I suggest seven to avoid surprises.
Type: Apartment, Hostel, Campside, Bed and Breakfast, Hotel.
Payment: Credit Card, Debit Card, Paypal.
Popular Places: Choose the neighborhood.
If you search for a single room the cheapest option available would be:
Private rooms from 26 euros with a rate of 8.1 fabulous. It’s a great deal in Barcelona.
Without choosing a minimum rate of seven or a single room we got these dorms. They would be the cheapest beds.
The first option is a hostel with a rating of 5.6 at 14 euros. I would not stay there. Especially if you read the reviews.
Let’s take the second cheapest: The Hipstel Paseo de Gracia.
Which has a rating of “Fabulous” –Perfect Location, Marvellous Staff and Awesome Cleanliness.
By the way, who choose these “Wonderful” expressions? Let’s keep the review.
It’s 17 euros in a Dorm, and 57 in a private room. Click “View” to see more details.
The first thing you realize is that children and guests over 40 years old are not allowed.
They want to keep a juvenile atmosphere. Read the whole description to avoid surprises.
It’s fine if you don’t fit. We will just use it as an example. Scroll down and you will see payment details, photos, and availability.
First, we see the private rooms. Single at 57 euros. Keep scrolling down and we find the dorms.
We choose one bed in a Basic 12 Bed Mixed Dorm and click “Book Now“.
Now you just need to fill up a few personal details, click “Confirm”, and it’s done.
How To Book Cheap Accommodation With Booking.com
When you are searching with Booking take your time to set it up. As you will see there are tons of options.
But doing it right will save you a lot of time. You will only see accommodations that fit your interests.
We are going to get through the most important filters.
Filters on Booking
First of all,
Definitely the first option from 0$ – 50$
There is one that you should mark: “Only show available properties”.
It should be common sense. However, Booking likes to show you properties that are not available.
Why they show it if it’s not available? I think it’s silly but whatever…
The rest of the filters are totally up to you. There are tons.
Maybe you find important to have a free cancelation because you are not 100% sure you will be there on that date. Or any other one.
Here you have some examples.
We want the cheapest accommodation with the best quality.
If you don’t have any preference for the type of property don’t click any.
You will have more accommodations available.
I find out that to guarantee a minimum comfort you should select Good 7+.
Less than that is not advisable.
An easy set up to choose the areas you want to stay in. And the areas you want to avoid.
Setting up all the filters can take some time. On the other hand, you will save a lot of time because you will see only what you want to see.
If you want to stay in single rooms click in “Show me private rooms only”. You will find it on top of the accommodations list.
In this case, the cheapest single room with a shared bathroom would cost 36 euros.
How to Find Cheap Accommodation: Dorms
Once you have selected all you want you will have a list of accommodations. On top of the list you can choose other filters. You can see first on the list:
Top Picks for Solo Travelers
Show homes first
Price (lowest first)
Review Score and Price
We want to find the cheapest accommodation so we click on “Price”.
This hostel is the first on the list. Looks nice and has excellent reviews of 8.8.
Just click on “See availability“.
You will see all the details –photos, reviews, location. Scroll down and you will have different types of accommodations available.
This is the cheapest option. 12–bed mixed dorm at 17 euros or 21 with breakfast.
You also have a 12-bed female dorm at 19 euros. Or, a 10-bed mixed dorm at 26 euros.
Choose your favorite, select the number of beds and click “I’ll reserve”.
Just fill in the info and it’s done!
Booking with Booking: Map View
On the top right of the website –once you choose city and dates– you will have the option of “Map View“.
On this new window, you will have: Filters, Hostels appearing on the map, and the map of the city indicating hostels.
It’s the same with a map. It can help you to find hostels in a particular area.
Choose the hostel you like and book it with Booking.
I follow the same principle as before looking for accommodation in Barcelona on the 12th of May 2020.
How to find cheap accommodation with Homestay.com
First, choose the city and the nights you want to stay. Once you are in you will be able to use some filters.
Do you want to use the kitchen? What about pets? Set it up as you want.
I found a private room in Barcelona for 24 euros. I didn’t find any for that price in Booking or Hostelworld.
21 Positive reviews.
Why this room is so cheap?
Mainly because is a bit far from the city center. However, it’s near Sagrada Familia and only 20 min from the city center by subway.
Take a close look at the House Rules. Here we have an example.
One thing it says is that it’s not allowed to smoke inside the home. Which happens 95% of the time.
But I have seen places where it’s allowed.
Keep on eye on pets. You are staying in someone’s home. There may be dogs, cats or other animals.
Also, if you can use the kitchen or not.
It will be indicated on the profile.
Once you are happy with the room you have chosen just click “Select Room”. Then you will see the price plus the fee 15% of Homestay.
It’s a fair fee considering that some websites charge you up to 30%.
And there you have it. You get a cheap private room.
Extra Option with Homestay: Book Using a Map
After you choose the city where you want to stay and the dates, you will have to option to search a Homestay on a map.
The button is on the right top. You will see something like this:
On the left, you have the map. On the right, you have a list of the rooms available on the map. You can scroll down the list.
First of all, search with Hostelworld. If you don’t find anything interesting try Booking.
Homestay for a single room.
And ask people who have been there. They can recommend you a nice and cheap accommodation.