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Hotels can easily be the most expensive part of a trip. And to make matters worse an expense that is beside the point of the trip in the first place. You don't go traveling to see the inside of an hotel. An hotel is a place to keep you safe, protected from the elements and maybe to keep you from being eaten by wild animals. However, hotels often try and become a destination onto themselves - having fitness centers, spa's, swimming pools, casino's and all sorts of other amenities. If you like going to a five star hotel and being pampered of course then that's the vacation for you. However, it seems pointless to spend $2500 on airfares to stay in a five star hotel in Timbuktu rather than walking down the street and staying at your friendly local five star hotel in your own city. A place has to be comfortable giving you a good night sleep but you vacation to see foreign countries, meet locals, eat the local cuisine and see the sites - not to see the inside of a hotel. You can probably find a place to work out near your home without having to buy a plane ticket. These five star amenities might be worth more to a Business traveler of course than the cost but this tips page is for vacation travelers.

First do a search online at various travel websites and comparison shop. And recheck as the prices always change (Often more than hourly as they are always updating prices). At the wandering Nomad travel center (Actually we are a affinity to hotels.com) I find that rates are often as good or better than places like expedia and travelocity but shopping around is the way to go as no one site is always cheapest.

Remember also that there is a minimum quality/price that you will find on websites. Online websites on average work best in expensive places like Western Europe or New York where you are unlikely to get a better price by walking up to the front desk looking for a hotel. You wont find cheap backpacker hotels online and if you go to third world countries like Lima, Peru or Hanoi, Vietnam. The easily available $10 hotels will not be listed. But you wouldn't want to book them online anyway because you would want to check out the places first as some of those cheap hotels can be pretty dumpy and the critters are sharing the room cost with you - which might be why they are so cheap. If you are not familiar with a city you might want something reserved for the first few days though. But especially in third world countries hotels can be a cheap option if you are willing to rough it a little. Besides the roach inn looks the same as the five star places after you turn out the lights. You have to decide how cheap you want to go. Lonely planet guides often give a very good list of hotels in various price ranges. I always bring a lonely planet guide with me when I travel and it is much more up to date than most other travel guides.

Don't forget to use Google. Going to the hotel directly is often a cheap way to save money - although searching google for hotels is time consuming because you get so many commercial sites. You often find cheaper (And with less amenity) hotels doing google searches than you do while searching the travel sites - although might be time consuming so you have to decide what your time is worth.


If you will be in one place for a week or longer an apartment might save you cash big-time - especially in expensive cities like Sydney Australia or in Europe. You generally get very little amenities (Possibly not even a laundry service) thereby giving you lots of time to leave the place and explore your vacation destination and only return at night to sleep. You wont generally find apartments on commercial sites but you should find them doing some google searches. Apartments are especially useful for families as hotels often have outrageous fees for extra people, even kids - for no reason other than they can charge fees for services that cost them nothing.


Excellent source of accommodation. Bed and Breakfast places are often smaller places and almost always cheaper than comparable hotels. You generally also get a breakfast thrown in (Which could be something super or a piece of toast and a glass of juice - standards vary widely) and often family run giving you access to locals even when you are in the hotel. Since they are often owner operated they might be more flexible with rules than a hotel (Bringing an extra child for example might be a big issue in some hotels). You often meet your fellow travelers more than you would in a hotel also. You wont generally find bed and breakfast places on the big travel sites and google searches might be the only way to go. London has lots of bed and breakfast places and especially around tourist places like Russell Square are cheaper than hotels and often have a good buffet breakfast. You don't generally get private toilets though and standards vary widely.


I remember in the early 1990s staying in a hostel in the prime location in Santorini Greece. It was a huge open warehouse type room with well over a hundred bunk beds. Rooms at the back was preferred as otherwise you would always be awakened by a constant flow of fellow travelers returning drunk while singing "99 bottles of beer" (Except that the front was the preferred spot for the 4AM guys as that was near the toilets). The security consisted of two working vacationers from Australia who ran the place who worked 12 hour shifts each seven days a week and never left the place because they were always to drunk to walk very far. Luckily I travel light and could bring everything that I had with me all the time. Cost me around $1 a night. Wish I had my youth freedom back again. Those were the days. You want to meet fellow travelers? You cant stay at a place better than that.

I also stayed at an even cheaper godawful  roach infested hostel in Budapest Hungary that had a sign on the front door that said "Bar open 0-2400". Drunks were passed out on the hallways that you sometimes had to walk over - but the toilets were clean. I ended up at this place because I arrived by train at 2AM and figured this was safer than looking for someplace else - especially since I was pretty tired. I quickly left the next morning as soon as possible (Even paying for the extra day as I left late) as even in my youthful budget challenged travel days that was to "roughing it" for me. I didn't even take a shower in that place. However, the place way doing brisk business and lots of people were willing to put up with the conditions in the almost free place to stay. On that same early 1990s trip I also stayed at a wonderful hostel in Istanbul that was nicer than some two star hotels with private rooms - and still only cost around $1. Hostels quality vary widely.

Hostels are by far the cheapest way to stay. Even today in Europe you can often find $20 hostels - often full. Mostly hostels are used by younger backpacker travelers and they often provide information about cheap tours, jobs an dare excellent for networking with other travelers. Remember that you often get what you pay for (I don't feel ripped off in that place in Hungary for example as I probably did get my moneys worth) and check quality. There is a very good web following among travelers and after meeting a few fellow travelers you can easily find discussion groups that will discuss hostels, the quality and anything else related to cheap places to stay. I just wish that I was 19 again and had lots of time and money to vacation though Europe and elsewhere. There is no better way to travel than to go "hostelling".  



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If you have your own must see travel destination and would like to file a report to be listed here send along with photos to thestampnomad@gmail.com