Affordable Travel: Accommodation on a Budget (pt. 1)

Affordable travel
One of the most disheartening statements that I hear from people my age these days is "I don't have enough money to travel." We're in one of those periods in our life where our jobs may not pay really well or we're not in the position to save a lot of money or, worse yet, we have a lot of loans to pay off.

Don't lose hope, because there are ways to travel that won't break the bank. In the first part of this series, I will be providing information on some of the best ways to find cheap accommodation in countries around the world.


If the word "hostel" makes you think back to the horror movie that came out years ago, stop now. That movie has given hostels such a bad name, and I'm here to set the record straight: hostels are a great alternative to hotels where you can meet other travelers at a lower price.

That being said, yes there are probably creepy hostels out there, just as there are probably creepy hotels, as well. It's just about being smart and doing your homework.

First of all, start off by going to a website such as Hostelworld or and search for the location that you are considering for your trip. These two sites are great because they have information like pictures, reviews and amenities available for visitors.

Once you have some hostels that you like lined up, consider the factors listed below when choosing.

  • Private or Shared Rooms
    • This is just what the name implies. A private room will be just for you and/or whoever you are traveling with. Some private rooms have an en suite bathroom (meaning it's in the room) and others will have shared bathrooms by floor.
    • A shared room, however, usually comprises of a certain number of bunkbeds and each bed is reserved when booking. The larger the room and the more beds there are, the lower the price per bed will be.
    • Shared rooms are great for anyone who wants to meet fellow travelers, as there can be up to 12 people sharing one room. It makes for great stories and was perfect for me when I traveled by myself a year ago.
    • Shared rooms are not a good idea for anyone who values their personal space, is a light sleeper, or doesn't like the idea of sleeping in a room full of strangers. It's definitely something that you have to get used to and depends on the person.
    • Finally, be sure to check if the shared rooms are co-ed or single gender. Some hostels will have dorm rooms that are for women-only and some will have only mixed rooms, where both men and women sleep.
  • Reviews
    • You can learn a lot about any place by the reviews that are left by previous visitors, so I tend to check out the rating of any hostel before booking.
    • Keep in mind: some people just aren't meant for hostels, which is totally fine, but they often write some of the worst reviews. Some examples are: "ugh I had to share the bathroom and someone used all the toilet paper" or "the person above me snored all night and kept me awake" or "there was no continental breakfast served in the morning and people were in the bar all night."
    • If you are seriously considering staying at a hostel, I would recommend weeding through the types of reviews above and skip to the ones mentioning: cleanliness of the facility, helpfulness of the staff, or general atmosphere of the location.
  • Amenities
    • Whenever I stay at hostels, I alway check for the following amenities without fail: bedsheets, towels, locker/storage, wifi.
    • If a hostel doesn't have a locker, I will not stay there. But that's my personal preference, as I like to keep my backpack or personal items locked away when I'm not in the room. Usually, a hostel will offer two types of storage: personal lockers in the room (these are often tiny) and one locked room for all visitors to keep their items during their stay.
      • If you are going to have a personal locker, be sure to bring a lock! Otherwise, you can probably rent one at the hostel for a small price.
When staying at a hostel, it's a really great opportunity to socialize. There are often organized bar nights or card games and, at some places, people will just gather and hang out in any common areas. I've met many friends at hostels in my travels, which, aside from the lower prices, is one of my favorite aspects of staying at hostels in general.


Want to visit a city and feel as though you're living there during your stay? This is the way to do it. Airbnb allows you to rent a room or full apartment in the city of your choice, making it feel like your home away from home for the duration of your visit.

I usually consider this option most when I'm traveling for a longer period of time, as I want to have my personal space and some sense of permanency (having a kitchen can save you a ton of money as compared to eating out all the time). But I've also found myself coming back to Airbnb when traveling short-term in certain cities, as the prices can be really low based on where and when you look.

To start, visit to search for the city and the type of place you're looking for. You can look at single rooms, shared rooms, or private apartments and then filter by your budget and any other requirements, such as pet-friendly rooms, specific amenities, language(s) of the host, etc.

When considering your options, I would suggest looking at the photos provided and also read up on the host and the rules that they have for their space.

Final Notes

Whew, there is a lot of information of this subject, so I'm going to have to split this into two different posts. I hope that this helps you to consider different options when traveling and save you some money to be able to go out and explore the world!

If you have any questions or suggestions shout to us on Twitter @mygrownupguide.

Thanks and safe travels!

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