7 ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ON YOUR TRAVELS
Accommodation is usually going to be your biggest money drainer on the budget. But at the end of the travelling day, you’re going to want to lay back, kick your feet up for a while and just chillax. So, depending on your budget and time frame, where do you start?? I’m going to let you know about a few of my choices for searching for a rest stop that I’ve used over the years. These are choices you can do for a few nights or for a few months, like I said it just depends on what your own plans are.
For years i’ve been, and still am, a loyal devotee to the fun living side of hostels. They’re great for so many reasons. Being able to work for your accommodation is one definite plus. I use to work at the Edinburgh Train station in the daytime, then each night i’d go back to the hostel and clean the two kitchens until they were shining. Didn’t leave much time for a social life, but living in a backpackers IS a social life all on its own. Plus this one had a pub attached, so for days on end I could happily live within a four block radius of home. Good times..
Hostels also provide you with a wealth of information. Not just at the brochure stand crammed with all the stops you really apparently should spend your cash on but from your cheery fellow backpackers. The exchange of hot spots to visit, dives to miss, farms that are hiring, or cars offering lifts is just endless. And most of it happens on chance. Talking to the right person, listening in on the good conversations, stumbling across THAT notice on the billboard. Often these bits of luck have led to some great adventures that I never before would have of imagined that they were destined for me.
There’s endless websites to help you in your research of what hostels are out there that could best suit you, but if you want to save a few pennies, it’s often better to book direct through the hostels website rather than go through the booking agents. No booking fee roughly translates to “we already hiked up the price anyway”.
Be it for a few days or a few weeks, months, years, house sharing is another great way to meet people and to open your social paths. Most of the time it works out even cheaper than being in a hostel. I’m made some great mates through house-sharing and again this is another way to put you in with the locals. The same ones who can help you out regarding things to do and where jobs might be happening. But it’s also lovely to have a real kitchen to use and a bathroom where you can leave your stuff in and not move it in and out each time you go to shower!!! Because those little pleasures matter after living out of your bag for a while. One great site that I use for both short and long-term accommodation all over Australia is Flatmates.com. No joining fees, just a quick profile with a picture and you’re on your way.
As long as my accommodation is sorted for the night I don’t mind giving over a few hours to help out someone with whatever needs to be done. And volunteering is a nice way to meet the needs of everyone involved. You get some free accommodation and your host gets a happy worker for a couple of hours per day. I’ve cleared old caravan sites at Monkey Mia, WA: done data entry by the Mekong river in Laos: and planted flowers while the curious rock wallabies hopped over to check out what I was doing in Granite Gorge, Qld. Cant wait to get onto more opportunities!!
I like getting behind the scenes of places and with volunteering I found you can also get that direct link with the locals, who are happy to see you involved in something that is helping out people in their community. Ask the questions, show your interest and you’ll be surprised at what wonders are present for you to discover. There’s always an adventure just waiting to happen.
GET YOURSELF INTO IT
Most of my volunteering has been through just turning up to places and asking at the counter. But sometimes I like to do a bit more research and see what’s out there. One website that I’ve found to be useful is called Helpx. It cost $26 (US$) for over two years of subscription and for that you get an International service and depending on the country that you are in, you can find an abundance of choices in just about anywhere doing anything. From rural areas to the cities, the beaches or the mountains. Being a Jillaroo, a bookkeeper, a handyman, or a gardener. The choices are more than plenty.
A few times I’ve found jobs where food and board were provided with the job, usually this is taken out of your wages, but at a reduced cost so it’s all fair. This work set-up has it’s definite pro’s and con’s. Pro’s being you can save plenty of cash as your essentials are generally all taken care of, you don’t have to walk too far to work or to catch up with your mates and you can usually get decent discounts on whatever the establishment is offering to its guest (tours, attractions, etc). But the biggest negative for me was that sometimes you can really struggle to get away from work. Go back to your room, the canteen, wherever in the grounds and everybody just wants to talk about work. And you’re always on stand-by, even on your day’s off. Like I said each place has its good to its bad, and I look forward to trying out some other live, work, and definitely play situations in the future.
Couchsurfing is another great way to spend your nights. But unlike hostels where you can usually find your own space, you really need to be more sociable in a couch surfing situation. Which I don’t mind at all. Through opening myself more to these strangers who are opening their homes and their lives to me i’ve always walked away with fond memories of my couch surfing experiences.
I mean, what better way to learn about somewhere new than from the local’s right! So with Couchsurfing, you’re already there. Most of the host I’ve found through my own experiences have always been so generous with helping you out as best as they can, or offering suggestions of attractions not to be missed, or even just getting you in the car and taking you around for a personal guided tour. I said most, not all! Some hosts are also quiet happy to just leave you the key, make polite chit-chat and let you be on your merry way. Each new experience is never like the last.
Just be sure to take the time to read the host’s profile and send a brief personal message to each. Whey they say, “YES” and you finally meet up it’s nice to know a little about them to break the ice and get the conversation flowing. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves 🙂
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE, BONUSES & EXTRAS
Another great factor about Couchsurfing is their emergency couch request. Graciously, there are a few sweet souls out there that will give you a place to sleep at sometimes less than a days notice. I’ve used it a few times and it has always come in handy in those unexpected moments. Seriously though, bless those decent folks! Well appreciated on my behalf.
There’s also the Couchsurfing meet ups in a lot of locations. I’ve been to trivia nights at the Pub, picnics in the park, bike rides through the towns, and i’m still always on the lookout for more activities to join in on.
Air Bnb is another pretty cool website that I was recommended to and that I occasionally use for short stays that I’ve done here and there. To me, it’s kind of like couch surfing but with payment. Someone has a bed, a room, even an apartment to rent out and you get to enjoy the creature comforts of a home and a relaxed environment, usually at a reasonable price too. This can work out great if there is a few of you travelling together. Why not take the double room instead of the dorm bunks, why not rent out the apartment instead of a 4 bed hostel room??
This website is also international and you can find some truly quirky options like sleeping in a Yurt or in a converted school bus!! Go and check it out!!
I’ve been doing quiet a bit of car camping over the last 5 months and it’s been a real pleasure to set my camp up out in the open air, under the Southern stars. Even those rainy days and nights have been a fun adventure in customising my camp site. I’m forever going through my equipment, pulling out what is useful and making the most of what I’ve got. This is a great lesson in being resourceful as there’s generally no convenience store for miles to get those forgotten bits and bobs.
WANNA WIKI TONIGHT?
Wikicamps, Australia, is a paid app for your phone (cheaper than the Free Camp books!!) that for me has been just brilliant for camp locations. Campsites that have been taken out of the camp books and sites that fellow campers have found are all put into one easy to use application. The map view is great for sourcing out what sites are on your path, and the descriptions can also make it worthwhile to leave the road well travelled for something else off the beaten track. For me it’s so much more enjoyable to camp in these out of reach places than to stay in the ones that are filled to the brim because they’re the easiest to get to. But, hey, that’s just me!!
TO WRAP IT UP
Well, there you have it. That’s a few of my suggestions. Tried and Tested by yours truly, the chameleon traveller. I’ll be using them all again at one time or another in the future and if I discover any new options, I’ll be sure to let you all know.
But how about yourselves!! Anyone out there have some other accommodation options that perhaps I’ve not mentioned?? Or maybe you can let me know of something going on that I’ve not heard about and together we can pass it onto the world of travellers just waiting to enjoy it.
Wherever you end up, wherever you stay, make the most of the experience and enjoy your days!!