More than just hotels: Youth hostels, couch surfing and more

Lower Your Travel Costs

By Booking Hostels

Old or young, staying at hostels during your travels can save you some serious cash. If the high price of hotel rooms is keeping you from taking a vacation, don’t despair. The money you will save by booking hostels instead of hotels can lower your travel costs significantly.

What exactly is a hostel? Created in Germany by a man named Richard Schirrmann, the first “youth hostels” were part of a charitable movement to allow underprivileged youths to experience a country setting. To teach them a good work ethic, they were also required to care for the hostel themselves. This included cleaning, cooking and landscaping.

The idea of affordable residences or “hostels” quickly caught on, and Schirrmann’s idea eventually evolved into a group that is now known as Hosteling International, (HI). You will be happy to know that the cleaning requirement of the hosteling experience was eliminated by almost all of the hostels, although a few die-hards remain! Unlike chain hotels, hostels are unique and range from brownstones to rustic cabins to restored castles.

You can find lots of good information online about booking hostels, both HI hostels as well as independent hostels. Some of the websites I’ve used are,www.hostels .com., and

Although hostels started out as inexpensive travel lodging for students and youths, they are now used by all age groups to save money and meet people. From backpackers to students to senior citizens to families with children, anyone can book hostels, and often for a fraction of what you would pay to book a hotel room.

Do not book a hostel if you are are an introvert who demands peace and quiet. You will have less privacy in a hostel and many times, a little more noise. Hostels have more common areas, including kitchens, where guests often meet. It can sometimes get loud. Also, you will probably have to share a bathroom. If privacy is important to you, though, most hostels now offer private and semi-private ensuite rooms, for a little more.

But if you have a sense of adventure and like the idea of meeting fellow travelers and saving some cash, hostelling just might be for you!

Vacation accommodation options for families

So, it is time to choose the vacation; you have a destination in mind, the next big decision is the type of accommodation to book. With so many opportunities open to you, how to you choose between a 5 star hotel resort and a camp site? It’s hard enough to decide when you are traveling alone or as a couple, throw a family into the equation and the whole process of making that decision suddenly becomes a little more complex.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation (B&B)

This type of accommodation will suit short stay vacations, can be found around the world, and is often the most economical and flexible way to make an overnight stop somewhere. Whether it is an entirely suitable option for a family is another question. When you stay somewhere, do you need more than a bedroom with coffee making facilities? In general, B&Bs offer exactly what they say and very little else, a bed and breakfast! So if you are needing space for the kids to play, kitchen facilities to warm bottles and baby food, and an environment where noise from enthusiastic children is acceptable, then research the B&B option carefully. Read the accommodation details carefully, there are plenty of B&B destinations that will not even entertain the idea of having children in their homes, however, there will also be many run by parents or grandparents who will go out of their way to make your stay the best experience possible. Do bear in mind that you are a guest in someone’s house and you may find this reduces your flexibility and privacy to come and go as you please. We used B&Bs all the time before my son arrived, but I have to admit we have given them a miss in the last three years as I consider them far too restrictive with a toddler.

Farm stays

Farm stays are a fantastic accommodation option for families, and are totally geared towards having kids around. Accommodation will suit families with small cottages and cabins or large family rooms. Often self catering is an option on a farm stay, with the opportunity to sample or buy fresh produce such as eggs and milk straight from the barn. You can expect plenty of opportunities to explore the farm, with numerous activities available; watching the cows milking, pony rides, animal petting area, bottle feeding lambs, nature walks, collecting eggs and tractor rides. Farm stays offer a unique opportunity for the whole family to experience and learn about farming, with comfortable affordable accommodation, in locations that are likely to be quiet. We

Boutique Hotels on the Rise

Traveling has always been one of the most important parts of our lives and keeping this in mind the hotel industry has changed the whole concept of hotels very rapidly in the past few years. Now hotels are no longer a place where one goes because he has no immediate accommodation in that city but these hotels have become more than just a place to stay. These hotels now provide many other integrated services and luxuries like restaurants, swimming pools, gymnasiums, spas and many others.

In the last one decade the rise of boutique hotels has made a huge impression on the hotel industry and is still making it. These boutique hotels are now operating in every major or small city whether it is New York, London, San Francisco and or any part of the world. This concept of boutique hotels basically existed from 1980s. Initially, these boutique hotels were also known as “designer” or “lifestyle” hotels. Morgan hotel of New York was the first to get this label of “boutique hotel”. Now days, everyone is trying to call their hotel a boutique hotel but generally, a boutique hotel is one which is comparatively smaller, and constructed with the purpose of serving their personal customers rather than others. The definition of boutique hotel as per most of the travel and tour agents and websites of this type is, it is a hotel which do not have more than 50 rooms and the aim of this hotel is to make your stay as pleasant as possible. The blast in the numbers of boutique hotels has brought confusion as more and more internal hotel owners are opening their own chain of boutique hotels. Most famous are Starwood and resorts hotels.

After the huge popularity of New York’s Morgan hotel, many boutique hotels have come into existence all across the world especially in the cities that are hotspots in terms of tourism or around them. Let’s take London as an example. Till some time back, it was very hard to find one boutique hotel there but now boutique hotels are seen in every second street and what’s more, bigger hotels are also converting themselves into a boutique hotel. These big boutique hotels are gaining more popularity there as the rents are high and small boutique hotels are not workable often. In last five years or so, many boutique hotels have gained huge popularity in London and some of them are Guest houses in Notting Hill, Baglioni Hotel and the Soho Hotel in Soho.

In our second example, Paris, every type of boutique hotel can promise you a big success. Probably, this is the reason why there is a huge variety and quantity of boutique hotels to choose from. One of the Paris’s oldest boutique hotels is called Montalembert and it is situated on the left bank. The hotels that have been inducted as boutique hotel very recently are Hotel De Sers situated at Avenue Pierre and Hotel Sezz located very near to Eiffel Tower.

The interesting fact about boutique hotels is that the boutique hotels of North America are slightly bigger than the boutique hotels all around the world and this is because of the fact that rents are higher there. But still the boutique hotels are very famous in America.

It is estimated that as the tourism sector will grow the hotel industry especially the boutique hotel industry will also grow and also the fact that the big hoteliers have initiated their expression of interest in boutique hotels, will help this industry flourish for many years to come.

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Checking budget accommodation options in SE asia

Having some experience in travelling SE asia heres a few tips that could save you a bunch of money or just simply give you better value.

If you’re travelling on seriously low budget, most likely you are not arriving your destination by plane but rather on a bus or a train. Often the local people know the transportation timetables and wait for you with their offers for accommodation. After all, its easy to spot someone with huge backpack that theyre looking for a room.

You might want to check out the first offer, but my advice is that you’ll check a few other guesthouses that are in the neighborhood. If the proposed guesthouse is far away, you might ask if they could give you are ride perhaps on a motorbike. Sometimes you are being told that the ride is free if you stay at the proposed guesthouse at least one night.

Often the budget accommodation options are generally in the same area. Have a look on a few places before making up your mind. A lot of guesthouses know that old phrase “location, location, location” all too well and you might actually get a lot nicer room for less money if you just bother to walk a few meters.

Also its possible that the initial room price gets lowered if you mention that you’re going to have a look on other places as well. Another thing to consider is to ask for a discount if you’re staying longer than just a couple of days.

you can try to bargain if its low season or you can ask if they have something cheaper than the room you’ve just shown.

It may sound obvious but nevertheless, always check the room first before taking it. Check the room for general cleanliness and make sure the fan works, there is water in the shower and the bed is relatively clean. Beds often look clean but you could just run your hand on the sheets to feel if theres some dirt around. Some places dont change the bedsheets too often and just make it looks nice. If the place is otherwise okay but dirty bed or something, you might say that you’ll take the room on the condition that they do the necessary changes. Also see if theres electricity outlet and theres nets in windows and openings against mosquitos.

If you agree to rent the room, make sure that both parties agree and understand whats the rate for one night and whats included in the price. Once in a while some mysterious taxes come up from nowhere when you’re checking out and paying for the room. If theres a breakfast included, you might want to ask what kind of breakfast that is. Lastly you can ask what other services they might have at the guesthouse, for example laundry, internet, use of pool, rental of bikes or motorbikes, transport services and so on.

Tips for finding accommodations in South Tyrol, Italy

Finding the perfect accommodation for your holidays might be a tough experience, but this does not have to be the case when you travel to South Tyrol (or South Tirol), Italy. With more than 200 years of intensive tourism, the region is literally full of hotels and pensions. However, despite the same 200 years, most of these hotels and pensions do not appear on big sites such as Expedia. And those that do appear are, of course, mainly the big, expensive ones. Does this mean that tourists without local connections have no choice but to pay the price? Not really, provided that they get to know a few things about accommodations in South Tyrol, Italy. Here they are:

Tip 1: search on local sites, not on national or global ones

South Tyrol is not only a geographical region, but also, from administrative point of view, an autonomous province. This means that many things are handled locally and the best place to look for any information is a South Tyrol site rather than anything else. And once you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of information on any issue. So try the” South Tyrol tourism site for general information and the South Tyrol “accommodation finder for booking an accommodation.

If you plan to go to some specific events, search also on the site of the event. Usually they offer on their site a tool for searching and booking accommodations. However, keep in mind to book with a lot of time in advance for truly international events such as the World Championship in Biathlon. For such events it seems that there are never enough hotels and pensions and you might not be able to find something close even 1 or 2 months in advance!

Tip 2: call, not click

Don’t be afraid to make a phone call for securing your reservation. While many pensions and hotels in South Tyrol offer also an on-line form for requesting a reservation, many of them seem to simply ignore such forms. However, they promptly answer on the phone and guarantee your reservation if they are not fully booked. Most of them speak English at least at a basic level and all of them speak both German and Italian.

Tip 3: contact a tourism office

Almost in every little town in South Tyrol (some villages included) there is a tourism office. If you are still in doubt or don’t manage to find on-line the accommodation of your dreams, just contact

Finding cheap accommodation in Beijing, China

Anyone who has spent time in the People’s Republic of China is obviously aware of the sheer number of hotels and sundry boardinghouses located in even the smallest city.

What patronizing Western travelers frequently encounter at the front desk, however, is a sudden expulsion by the proprietor conveying in Chinese that NO FOREIGNERS ARE ALLOWED!

What would compel a vacant guesthouse to turn away a paying guest into the night?

The answer is found in a longstanding police statute that prohibits the majority of these establishments from accepting non-Chinese guests or risk the penalty of a fine; only guests with Chinese identification may patron an independently run boardinghouse, called luguan.

Considering no Westerner could meet such a requirement, what this restrictive policy translates into is a concerted effort to urge foreign travelers to stay at more expensive, government-designated hotels.

Following the nation’s accession into the World Trade Organization, metropolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, along with the country’s most popular holiday destinations, have eased their lodging restrictions to accommodate greater numbers of overseas tourists. But anyone intent on regional travel will be hard pressed to locate an appealing choice of legitimate budget accommodations outside the major cities.

Indeed, having passed through the most remote parts of China on my extensive journey across the country, this writer recalls spending many an uncomfortable night on a Chinese sidewalk or train station floor after being turned away from its only affordable lodging.

A strict budget prohibits me from frequenting any hotel with a room rate higher than 30 yuan, which dramatically reduces my chances of ever finding legitimate accommodations. One night in a three-star hotel is equivalent to a week’s worth of frugal travel.

Lest one draw comparisons to myself with a stray dog, I might add that I’m not always so submissively destitute.

I vividly recall a recent experience in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the northern interior. With only two accommodations to choose from in the immediate vicinity-an overpriced luxury tower or a simple guesthouse with dormitory-style rooms and a shared water closet-I of course sought the latter. As it was, the unapologetic front desk clerk would not admit me.

I looked and did not find the requisite posted official notice stating that foreigners were unwelcome; perhaps she was just

How to meet people when traveling alone

Do you love traveling? If you do, you probably will meet two circumstances, where all travelers will definitely without fail have to answer this ultimate question. Do I have the money to travel and do I have the time to travel? A lot of travelers, nowadays struggle with this ongoing problem and thus at the end of the day, it may boil down to while you have the money to go for this vacation, your partner may not have that kind of money to splurge or situation where you have the time to travel, your partner can’t afford the time to travel with you. Hence, at the end of the day, you may be faced with the situation that you’ll be traveling this vacation alone. I’m going to share a bit of information on how I have cope with traveling alone and meeting different kind of cultures and people along the way.

Before you embark on any given trip that your heart desires, you will have to look through any given information on this particular country or city which you will be visiting. Normally, for any trip which I’m deciding to go, I will try to look up at some travel guide books, tune in to some travel programmes geared towards the destination where I’m planning to travel. If you have access to your local libraries, these are good information centers where you can gather as much information before you travel and all for free, save up those money and set aside for your traveling. When looking up on the travel guides or books, be sure to look up for lone travelers lookout which is ideal for you to read them up to avoid any unnecessary disruption to your tours.

While traveling to distant places, you might want to check out on your accommodations through the travel guide books, normally those books will provide lots of information on the different accommodations, like budget hotels or youth hostels, medium to luxury ranges of accommodations to suit every travelers budget. I personally, will choose those budget or youth hostels, especially since I will be on a budget tour and it’s the best way to meet up with like-minded travelers. Remember to email or call up the accommodations in advance to avoid the rooms fully taken up by other travelers. Meet up with like-minded travelers while having your meals in the cafes provided by your hostel or hotels and there are many activities where you can join in and have fun with other lone travelers too. I remember my experience in Australia, where I stayed in a youth hostel, every other nights, there is a certain movie which they will put up for travelers to enjoy their evenings and this will be a fun platform for travelers to get together and share your experiences.

While traveling, you might want to check out the itineraries that local travel agents offer to all travelers. These are fun, as you can meet up with fellow travelers, whom share the same interest whilst traveling together towards a certain sightseeing spot. For my experience while I was holidaying in Melbourne, I joined a 2 days tour to Great Ocean Road with a night accommodation in one of the hostels which my travel agent has arranged. We had four guys including me to bunk in for the night and we talked and laughed and shared our experiences together. During the day, while we are traveling and taking photographs as souvenirs, we acted as partners to help each other to take photo shoot of one another at scenic spots which we just can’t miss.

And this is my experience of traveling and meeting up with like-minded people whom don’t mind traveling alone which does have its own advantages.

Luxurious Accommodation For Your Family Vacation

So you go abroad for a luxury family vacation and you have chosen your destination now you have to choose Luxurious accommodation. Few years ago, you probably visited your travel agent and confidence face-to-face advice you were given by the so-called “experts”. The 21st century way to select and book you Luxurious accommodation is, on the internet, using an online guide.

But how can we go through all the choices to find the right Luxurious accommodation for you? And more importantly, can we really trust the photographs and descriptions of the hotels that were probably placed there by the management of the hotel you are checking out.

Traveler reviews about Luxurious accommodation can be useful, but you must exercise caution. They are often biased, sometimes exaggerated (no one wants to admit they made a terrible mistake), and may not answer your questions or serve your interests at all. How do you know that the characteristics that are deemed important by the reviewer are the same ones that are important to you? Then there’s the problem of reviewer motivation. The most critically you read, the more you will notice how they tend to cluster at the extremes of opinion. On one side, reviewers are apparently angry and have an axe to grind, and on the other, you have delighted guests who praised beyond belief.

You probably will not be surprised to learn that Luxurious accommodations have been known to post their own comments and reviews, or they comment on their competitors and grab any opportunity to lambaste the competition with terrible reviews – it seems that no action is too low to be involved with – it’s a cut-throat world out there.

It is best to consider what is really important to you in choosing your Luxurious accommodation. You need to choose an online accommodation guide which gives up-to-date, independent and impartial information that really matters.

Here are some of the key facts you should bear in mind while choosing your Luxurious accommodation:

Location: if it is important that the hotel is, for example, on the beach, near the theme park, or the airport, then the location is paramount. Any decent directory should provide a map of the location of the Luxurious accommodation and its surroundings.

Style: it is important to choose a Luxurious accommodation that makes you feel comfortable – traditional or contemporary furniture, decoration local or international, formal or relaxed. The ideal hotel directory will be able to show the options available.

Restaurants, cafes and bars: local color is great, but in-hotel restaurants and bars can play an important role in your stay. You must be aware of your choices and style and whether or not they are formal or informal. A good accommodation report should tell you. Also are meals included in the standard tariff and if so which meals – remember that at times only breakfast is on offer as part of the standard price.

Room facilities: you should always carefully consider the type facilities you need in your room and find a Luxurious accommodation that offers those you consider important. A good site directory of hotels, should address questions such as: bed, internet access (and maybe the additional cost of WiFi or wired broadband connection), equipment, mini-bar, sauna, Jacuzzi, room service, the views from your deluxe room and what’s on offer in the way of sheets, blankets, pillows, bathrobes and the choice of smoking or not smoking; and this is a short list. Make your own list and match the hotels on offer to it.

These things really do matter; any decent Luxurious accommodation directory should give you this kind of information – not just a listing of the rooms and their prices, which is the usual option!

Children’s facilities: important to the family traveler is an understanding of how your children are going to manage with your Luxurious accommodation of choice. One thing worth looking for is whether the place offers baby-sitters because if it does then you know it’s aware of the needs of parents with kids.

Business facilities: For the business traveler who wishes to escape with their children the point above is very relevant too – but you will also need other facilities that may allow you to remain in contact with the working side of your life. So what facilities does your Luxurious accommodation of choice have that can help you continue to do what you need to do while you’re away with the family? WiFi, high-speed broadband, meeting rooms, conference facilities, photo-copying, courier services and so the list goes on. Again; make up your list of needs and match it with the hotel. If what you need is not there then maybe you should not be either.

Leisure facilities: the site should provide a detailed analysis of leisure services – spa, pool, gym, sauna – and details of any other nearby facilities such as golf courses, fun parks, etc.

Special Needs: a directory of Luxurious accommodations, should inform potential patrons of available special needs services and their accessibility policy. Although this may not apply to all visitors, it is absolutely vital for some.

Finally and most importantly, a high quality directory of Luxurious accommodations should not accept only external feedback but should be supported by an inspection team who has members that have visited the hotel in question, met the staff, slept in a room and tried the food. They should have extensive hotel experience and understand the need of hotel customers as only a hotel customers can and it is only then that they are really in a strong position to write about the Luxurious accommodation l.

If you want to access a guide of luxurious hotel accommodation for you and your family vacation then have a look at

How to get free accommodations during your trip

Tired of paying through the nose for hotel and motel accommodations that aren’t worth the price? If you’re ready, you can determine that, as of today, you are done with that world and move into the ranks of travelers who stay outside of the travel industry. You’ll be able to travel much more and see more fun details when you break free of the expenses of temporary housing.

Camping is one option. Plan to meet your own needs minimally and pack a lightweight setup to take care of yourself. If you’re willing to work at it a bit, you can approach virtually any place as you would a wilderness area. I’ve been known to stealth camp in the center of metropolitan cities, on the edge of international airports, and alongside major highways. Wherever you go, there you are. Keep it simple.

Services exist dedicated to introducing you to local hosts wherever in the world you choose to go. Some are more formal while others are decidedly casual. Most ask that you host travelers in your home, as well as staying with others when you travel, but each give you options to participate in various ways. Some are specifically designed for bicyclists, while others are open to everybody. Try out a few to find the best one for your needs.

Different cultures have differing attitudes toward wayfaring strangers. I’ve discovered that most of the world’s poorer people are thrilled to host a respectful person from another culture, especially when I’m willing to buy groceries. For much less than the cost of a restaurant, I’m able to eat truly authentic local cuisine and experience the culture up close and personal.

Even in the USA, it never hurts to ask. Most anybody will provide accomodations to a polite person who is willing to work for the favor. Try asking in a small business where you can look the owner in the eye. In those places where it’s too difficult to find people to ask, there is generally a “social services net, if you’re willing to go there. Besides helping to develop humility, staying in a shelter can put you in touch with the other side of your own culture.

The bottom line always seems to be the same. You get what you pay for, but you don’t have to pay for anything you don’t choose to consume. Life is free to those who choose to live that way. Keep yourself pleasant to be around and others will choose to be around you. We get by with a little help from our friends, be they old friends or brand new ones.