Finding Accommodations Mid-Travel
The first time that I ever looked for lodging while on the road was in Indonesia. A friend had told me about this perfect, incredible, fabulous, wonderful, amazing, cheap little place she found on this tiny island but there was one problem…..she forgot the name of it! Since it was such a small island, she told me that all I needed to do upon arrival was ask for a man named Ronni, who was the owner, and I would be pointed in the right direction. After walking around for 20 minutes barefoot up and down the beach in 95-degree heat, a 40lb bag on my back and asking about 30 strangers for Ronni, I finally found the man of the hour! And she was right, his bungalows were perfect, incredible, fabulous, wonderful, amazing and cheap!
Finding accommodation mid-travel does not always have to be this hard. Here are 3 easy ways to easily find lodging while on the road.
Online is the easiest way to find places when you are in a bind and accidentally forget to book something (for the day after tomorrow)! My favorite sites, in order of preference are :
All of the hotels will pop up starting with the top rated. Unfortunately I can’t always afford to stay in the top rated ones so I “sort” the list by price (from highest to lowest). From there I set a secondary filter with star ratings. Once everything is filtered and sorted, then I’m ready to get to work because I have a list of low-cost, high-rated hotels. Agoda’s system rates by stars and descriptions such as, Poor, Above Average, Good, Very Good, Fantastic, Superb, etc). To feel comfortable I always look for hotels with a “very good” rating or above. From here I read the reviews to see if the hotel has what I am looking for.For me, the first thing I look for in reviews when traveling internationally is if it has strong wifi. Sometimes a hotel is rated “fantastic” but the reviews state that the wifi is slow. If this is the case I move on until I find another one to my liking. Decide what’s the most important thing to you and look for it in the reviews. Some people like good breakfasts, while others like pools, being in the center of town, etc. Your “non-negotiable” is what you should be looking for in the reviews when booking.
Once I find a hotel, I then search for it on Trip Advisor since this site is known for giving unbiased reviews. Sometimes I’m surprised to find great reviews on Agoda but not so great reviews on Trip Advisor. If that is the case I continue to shop around because I value Trip Advisor’s opinion. Keep in mind that there will always be ONE review that doesn’t match up with the majority of the other’s so don’t let that one review confuse you in making a final decision.
If the reviews are good on both websites, I go back to Agoda and book it. This is a very easy process and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. The only disadvantage of booking through these websites is that you pay in advance. If you cancel without 24-48 hours notice (sometimes they require even 1-2 weeks) you don’t get a refund so you have to make sure that you are definitely going to that city. That is why I book last minute when I’m on the road when I’m sure I’m headed there.
Find A Place On Arrival
In most developing countries, many types of accommodations don’t have websites. Furthermore, you are sometimes paying double if you reserve a hotel online because these places have to pay a huge fee to be on a 2nd party website. So if you’re feeling adventurous you can wait until you arrive to a city to find a place to stay. This can be risky depending on what country you are in but for the most part it’s seamless. What’s great about this process is that if you ask, hotels will allow you to look at the room before you decide if you want to stay there. So you’ll find your place (by either walking around or from a cab driver that knows of a “great place”- don’t be fooled, these guys are getting a commission if you stay there so just be weary), ask how much the rate is and then ask to see the room. If it looks good you are all set and probably paid half the price than if you had booked onine! If you don’t feel comfortable then move on until you find one that suits you.
I would only recommend this process if you arrive in the morning or afternoon. No need to be searching for arrangements if you arrive late in the evening, it’s just not worth your time or mental stress.
Ask For Recommendations
Another great way to find a place is to ask for recommendations from friends or people you meet along the way.This is a great way to find some hidden gems that no one else knows about.You’ll also know it’s a good place since your friend wouldn’t be recommending it if it wasn’t. My place in Indonesia was well worth the “house hunting” and I never would have found it because there were tons of places to choose from!
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