Wherever I lay my head…

When travelling, the impact of your choice of accommodation on your experience cannot be overstated. Similarly to transport selection, budget is an important determining factor. But just as important to bear in mind are the personal space you might need and how many new people you would like to meet.

Camping

Camping is usually a great laugh for a weekend away with mates. But undertaking a long-term camping tour is serious business, especially if you are preparing your own food. The biggest downside of camping is your exposure to the elements. The use of a campervan can help to deal with inclement weather, but doesn’t do much to improve your square meterage per person… camping is not a great option for those who need a lot of personal space! If you do choose to camp, make sure you select your travel companions wisely as you will be spending a lot of time with them in very close quarters. This options will save you money, but it may not save your sanity!

Hostels

The advent of flashpacker hostels has increased the standard of this category of accommodation enormously. Hostels are where it’s at not just for the young, but also the young at heart. If you are travelling solo, the hostel is ideal. There is never any shortage of enthusiastic youth hanging out in the kitchen or bar area awaiting new companions. However these youngsters, as cool and adventurous as they may be, will largely be from far-flung places… the chances of meeting locals at a hostel are next to zero. For those of you who are not OK with sharing a room with strangers, there are often single room options. For those who are, the joys of dorm living (ie serenades of flatulence and copulation) await…

B&Bs

B&Bs used to be the domain of the elderly, but thanks to sites such as Airbnb they are becoming increasingly popular amongst all ages. Staying in a B&B is a great option because it gives you exposure to (usually) knowledgeable and friendly locals who can help you understand more about regional customs and places of interest. A home-cooked breakfast usually doesn’t go astray, either!

Serviced apartments / villas

If you are time poor, serviced apartments are of limited use. But if you are taking your time travelling and staying in one place for a week or more, they can be a great option. Replete with your own cooking facilities and often a lounge area, they are far more homely than most of the other options. And if you’re travelling in a large group, why not all chip in together and stay in your own villa rather than individual hotel rooms? You may even save yourselves some money.

Resorts

Similarly to cruises, staying at an all-included resort does not count as travel. That is all.

Hotels

This category of accommodation is probably the biggest mine field. When the word hotel is used, it could just as easily be referring to a dodgy 2 star with saggy beds as to the allegedly 7 star Burj Al Arab (pictured below) with all the “sir”s and “madam”s included! Hotels cater to all ranges of budgets, but their one common theme is privacy. Don’t expect your fellow hotel guests to be on the lookout for new travelling friends, especially not those who are wearing a suit. Business travellers are usually quite content eating their meal alone whilst working on tomorrow’s Powerpoint presentation!

Whatever accommodation you choose, it is never guaranteed to be clean. If you are researching and booking your accommodation in advance on the internet, be sure to thoroughly check online reviews of your choices to ensure that there are no cleanliness issues. If you can’t find a review, be wary. And if you are choosing accommodation on a walk-in basis as you arrive in town, ensure you ask to see the room (and check the bathroom!) before you hand over any cash.

* Image courtesy of stock.xchng

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