How To Figure Out Where To Stay When Traveling Full Time
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
One of the downsides of full time travel is having to constantly figure out where to stay. That’s because it requires some time and consideration, and because it’s a repetitive task you’ll do a lot on your travels. Some people book many months in advance. I’ve decided to go with the flow, and book a week or so, and then move along. There’s no right or wrong way to approach it, and you’ll find your individual rhythm the more you travel. My main strategies are to consider price, safety, and location. Depending where I am in the world, the cheapest option is not always the best option, if it’s unsafe. Bear that in mind if you’re a fellow solo traveler. Here’s how I go about finding a place to stay, so you have a starting point to consider.
Pretty much every aspect of full time travel revolves around your budget. It’s the foundation that makes full time travel possible. If you haven’t already attended my free training, it will help you begin digging in to this. I search my accommodation out by budget. Depending on what country I’m in, this could mean a youth hostel, or it could mean a moderately luxurious hotel, or anything in between. Your money will afford very different options depending on the exchange rate, and, with the pandemic, the local economy.
While I may have a city in mind, I first research which neighborhoods are central, and which are safest. If it’s a place I’ve never been, I’ll consider proximity to the bus or train station I’m arriving into (if I’m trying to avoid taxi fare by walking). If I can’t figure things out on Google, I’ll also join a Facebook group relevant to the country or city I’m traveling to and ask locals for help. Note that in some places, the area around a bus or train station isn’t that safe. I try to arrive in daytime hours, so that if I don’t feel good walking, I can get a taxi or local bus and not worry about being alone at night.
3. Features And Amenities
Another important part of the process is knowing any required features you want or need. In my case, I usually like to have great WiFi, or, know that I’m nearby cafes so that I can work there. You may want a kitchen, a private room, and so forth. So, the next thing on my list is to know which features I’d like to have.
4. Search Tools
With my budget and desired location in hand, I can begin using the many available apps/websites to see what’s available. Because I’ve used Booking.com for a lot of reservations, I’m now a Genius level 3, which often gets me more savings than going direct to the property. (Going direct to the property, otherwise, is a great way to save money on accommodation costs.) I use the map feature on Booking to search the area I want to stay and all the available properties in that area.
Next, I head to TripAdvisor. I find their reviews pretty reliable. I look up the properties I found on Booking and see how they ranked on TripAdvisor. If the price and reviews are right (I filter by most recent) I book my place for anywhere from a few days to a week. (As you may be aware, there are tons of other services, such as Trivago, Agoda, Hotels.com…I recommend choosing your favorite, and then compare rates with one or two other services. This process can get overwhelming if you
I also take a look at Airbnb. I’ve found that in some countries they are much less expensive than hotels and hostels, and in others, much more expensive. As a solo traveler, I also make sure, if I use an Airbnb, I know if the area is safe, and understand what the arrangement is with the owner regarding proximity, and whether or not I’m sharing the place with other guests.
5. House Sitting
Finally, housesitting has become my number one favorite way to find accommodations. I like the kind where I’m looking after someone’s cats and/or dogs while they’re away. Trusted HouseSitters is one of the better known services, and they operate around the world. The only downside is, you may not be able to find the exact dates you want, and, traveling last minute, it may be harder to find any sits available.
6. Alternative Services
There are a few other alternatives you can try. CouchSurfing lets you sleep on a stranger’s couch, usually for free. As a female, solo traveler, I opt not to do this, and, it’s typically only for a night or two, so if you want a longer stay, it may not be for you. FurnishedFinder is another site that many nurses and traveling professionals use, however it’s only for the United States.
Pro Tip: Oftentimes, a longer stay in the same place can get you a discount. If you don’t see one booking online, call the property/house owner, and ask.
Pro Tip Two: If you’re priced out of a city you want to stay in, research nearest cities you can get to via a direct bus or train ride, and see if prices are cheaper. Typically, the suburb of a major city will be a lot less expensive than being in the city center.
As you can see, a lot of time and effort goes into finding a place to stay. The longer you travel full time, the more you will settle in to your own preferences of sites and methods to use to find the best places for you to stay. Ready to get out there and get going? Let’s chat!
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