Different Types of International Accommodations
Hotels are the first thing that come to mind when looking for international accommodations. This was especially true for me before I took my 7-month trip. While hotels are always a nice place to rest your head (for the most part), you may be surprised to know that there are so many other options out there. I’ve put together a list of a few different types of lodging that I discovered during my travels.
If familiarity is something that’s important to you while traveling, hotels are the way to go. In fact many hotel chains are international nowadays and can be found in most countries. Don’t be afraid to try some international hotels abroad that you would never try at home. When Amy and I went to India we booked a few nights at the Radisson. We chuckled at the thought of this before we arrived based on what we knew about this chain in the States. I want to make it clear that we are not hotel snobs but we have been very fortunate to have stayed in some really nice places the past few years due to past jobs or having “loyalty points” (from credit cards and what not) where we could stay for free! However, when we arrived at the Radisson in Khajuraho, India we were blown away. Not only was the room beautiful with hard wood floors and linens that felt like heaven on our aching bodies but the amenities rivaled what I found in my Starwood hotels back home. There was even hair conditioner, not something easily found in hotels abroad. Ah the simple things! In addition, the food was delectable. We ended up eating every meal at the hotel restaurant during our two days there. Hotels can easily be booked online nowadays through the plethora of travel websites out there. Some of my favorites during my travels included Agoda and Kayak. My loyalty to these two sites is merely for the fact that they have apps so I could easily access them on my ipad and quickly book something when I found myself in a bind. A major advantage to staying in a hotel is that all questions and concerns can easily be answered by the front desk or concierge. If you are looking for a good restaurant, need directions, have questions about sight-seeing or would like to arrange transportation to and from the airport there is always someone available to help you.
Another option instead of a traditional hotel is a vacation rental property. This could be an apartment, a house, a cabin in the woods or even a castle! Popular sites to find such accommodations are Airbnb and VRBO Both of these companies have been extremely successful and are a top choice if you are looking for unique accommodations all over the world. Vacation rentals are great if you are traveling in a large group because it allows for everyone to stay together and usually ends up being cheaper than a hotel because you are splitting the cost. They are also ideal for longer trips because they feel like a home away from home with multiple rooms, a kitchen, an outdoor area and usually a washing machine, which is always a plus while on the road! You are completely on your own when staying in a vacation rental. So if you have questions about where to go and what you do you will have to do your research beforehand. The other thing to keep in mind is that sometimes it’s a challenge to arrange a time with the owner to pick up and drop off the keys. This is only a problem if you are arriving or departing at an odd time with an international flight. When Amy and I went to India we stayed in a royal palace for a few days. It was a great experience!
Homestays are quite common throughout Southeast Asia and help to give a more traditional experience because it feels like you are staying in someone’s house. Think of them as a Bed & Breakfast. They are usually small family-owned establishments with only a few rooms so it provides a more intimate setting. A nice touch is that they usually offer a welcome drink of coffee, tea or a fresh juice upon arrival. It really does feel like you are in someone’s home!Most homestays provide you a room with your own bathroom although I have stayed at a few where I had to share the bathroom down the hall with a few other guests. Usually you are responsible for bringing your own toiletries such as soap and shampoo but towels are provided for the most part. What I love about homestays is the authentic feel. They are usually tucked away down small side-streets, surrounded by tropical gardens with open common areas outside to just sit and enjoy the surroundings. Oh, and I can’t forget that they are also much cheaper than hotels! In southeast Asia, I paid anywhere from $10-$25 a night and that’s with breakfast included. The breakfasts are usually simple but normally quite tasty, consisting of traditional food and fruits of the season.
In some destinations there are certain types of accommodations that are more available than others. For example, in Indonesia many of the smaller islands offer bungalow lodging. Sure once in a while you’ll come across an occasional hotel but personally, I can’t fathom paying $200 bucks a night in a place where I spend sun-up to sundown at the beach. The bungalows I stayed in were single unit dwellings made out of bamboo or local resources from the region. They included breakfast, a mosquito net, a fan and an outdoor bathroom which was absolutely fabulous. There is something incredible about taking a shower under a full moon! Some of the bungalows offered AC for an extra $10 bucks a night, which isn’t bad considering the average price is between $15-$45 a night depending on the season. This was my favorite type of accommodation that I came across during my trip!
For those of you on a budget, hostels are always an option. Many people think that hostels are for students but most hostels nowadays welcome travelers of all ages. Hostels are great in that they allow you to meet people from all over the world. Most of the guests are either coming or going to the same places as you and it’s a great way to get suggestions and swap ideas about upcoming cities you plan to visit. I met many new friends, whom I still keep in contact with today just through small- talk in the hostel lobby. Traditional hostels have dormitory sleeping quarters ranging from 2 people up to 20 in a room with a shared bathroom down the hall. Some hostels actually offer rooms with a bathroom but they are always more expensive and almost non-existent, trust me I looked for them! While some hostels provide bedding it’s important to know that the bedding consists of a fitted sheet, (sometimes an additional thin sheet) and a duvet cover that is probably washed once a year. Some travelers have no problems with this, hey to each their own!
Personally I am more comfortable sleeping in a travel liner when staying in hostels, which is like a sleeping bag made out of a thin sheet. I bought this one before my trip and it gave me total peace of mind as I dozed off at night. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am not a huge fan of hostels. Why? Well I am 33 years old, got used to staying in nice hotels the past few years, I like my 8 hours of sleep every night and haven’t had a roommate in 10 years. However, I found myself staying in hostels for 7 weeks while I traveled to New Zealand and Australia because it was the only affordable option. In the end I got used to sharing bedrooms with strangers and getting woken up at all hours of the night each time someone entered or left the room. I totally recommend it if you are on a budget and looking to meet new people. Expensive accommodation shouldn’t impede you from seeing a beautiful place that you would like to visit.
If you are on an even tighter budget there is always couch-surfing. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a way to stay in a local’s home for absolutely free! The concept is built around the principle that you like to meet new people and have authentic experiences and that one day, you will return the favor to another tired, broke and weary traveler. I was skeptical to try this at first but when the end of my travels took me to France I found that I wasn’t used to the hotel prices in a developed country. I had my first couch-surfing experience when I was visiting a tiny city in France that I used to live in. My host was super accommodating and cooked me traditional French food and introduced me to all her friends. I even got my own room and a futon- hey better than staying 4 nights on a couch! It was an absolutely fabulous experience and now I have a new friend. In fact, she has already made plans to come and stay with me next summer during her trip to the United States! From hotels, to homestays, castles, and houseboats the possibilities are endless for travel accommodations. Whatever your budget and style, there is something that will surely suit your needs. So go ahead try something new, you may be pleasantly surprised!