When we set off on our trip all we had organised, in terms of accommodation, was one week in Chile at an AirBnB we found. This wasn’t our first AirBnB and only had done two prior to that in Australia. Both our AirBnBs in Australia were great and I cannot fault our hosts. My girlfriends and I had a two bedroom apartments in a newly build hotel on the Gold Coast, Australia for 1/4 of the price and my partner and I had a lovely weekend away at a boutique coffee farm in Byron Bay Hinterlands. As we hadn’t used AirBnB overseas we hoped for the best. Prior to heading away on our trip to South America, we figured we would do a mix of AirBnB and hostels. Both offer their pros and cons with hostels you are sharing a pretty large house with a bunch of temporary room mates for your duration. With AirBnB you are either sharing a house with your own room, sharing a room (we didn’t do this) or having the place to yourself. All our stays through South America using AirBnB involved sharing apartments/houses with our hosts, which we were happy to do as all our hosts were great.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a world of super honest people and sometimes photos and descriptions with differ from what you actually end up with. Sometimes people will write reviews and put a positive spin on them because they are ‘nice’ people. My recommendations would be to always read what is included and if you have any questions ask the host. If they are being a bit odd in their responses then maybe this is something you want to avoid. These are things we look out for when looking for AirBnB accommodation.
- Kitchen/Food: To save money on our trip and potentially avoid giving ourselves food poisoning we wanted to cook quick and simple meals along the way. Most places will say they have a kitchen but you should make sure your host is happy to let you use it. Also, if you want to use any of their condiments, ask! And if you do use the kitchen to make food, show some respect and clean up after yourself! Yes, you are a guest but it isn’t a hotel and your host isn’t your live in maid.
- Room/Bedroom. We had an issue with our Chile AirBnB bed in the room, it was only a twin and they said it easily slept two people but it didn’t. It is too small for two normal sized people. This was our own fault for not confirming but we always check and confirm if unsure on the bed size.
- Location: Make sure you look at the map for the location of the accommodation and get an idea of key interests in the area and if there is public transport close. Nothing worse then being miles out to save a few dollars a night and not be able to do anything.
- Host: Read the host information or ask about any house rules that they may have. Remember, this isn’t a hotel and you are living with or in your host’s space. It pays to be respectful. Some host’s are busy and won’t have time to interact with you. Make sure you are okay with this.
I, prior to travelling to South America, have only ever stayed in one Hostel. I am not at all familiar with hostel life. It was all very new to me. I have shared accommodation and had room mates so I do know something about shared accommodation. Pretty much all the hostels we booked online had correct photos and descriptions. We found that hostel ratings varied with various negative and positives. It comes down to what one person likes another probably wont. In terms of reviews and instead of reading all of them to make our decision, we only read the first 5 and made our decision based on location, price and facilities. Here are some things to consider when booking hostels accommodation.
- Price: The price of hostels vary throughout and you really need to have a budget in mind when looking. It can be pretty overwhelming to look at all. We found that when looking at http://www.booking.com or http://www.hostelworld.com that we sorted in by price and anything over our budget per night was out. The only time we altered this was if there was a very small price different or if the places in our price range could possibly require a tetnes shot.
- Location: Location is everything. Most of our travels are done by foot patrol, meaning we walked as much as possible. We only used public transport if needed to save money or the place was out of reach by foot. If you are happy to be a bit further out and use public transport then this can save you some money on accommodation. Usually the hostels in the main hubs are more expensive and unfortunately, not always the best. Also, check your accommodation distance from the bus stations or airport as you may need to get a taxi or you could potentially walk to save dollars.
- Facilities: Again, as with AirBnB, we tried to cook as eating out all the time will chip into your bank account. Some hostels have basic kitchens and others have the full setup. Even though a hostel says it has a kitchen makes sure it is for guest use. We had this problem but we worked around it. Again, if you use the facilities bathroom/kitchen etc., clean up after yourselves. There are limited items in the kitchen and others want to use them without having to clean up after you. You are old enough to travel the world then you are old enough to do your own dishes and flush the toilet!
- Party/No Party: Some hostels are party hostels. We avoided these at all costs. We stayed next to some which was bad enough. We want to get up in the mornings and explore the beautiful world, not nurse a hangover. It is for some not for us. Living in a party hostel might sound fun but you may regret your choice when your bunk buddies are engaging in coitus or the music is still pumping until 5am.
- Other guests: Obviously, there are going to be other people in the hostel so be polite and engage in conversation. If they don’t want to talk they will tell you. Most are just exchanging travel plans and ideas and it is fun to meet new people. It can be a bit daunting if you’re a bit of an introvert but after awhile it becomes natural. Also, be respectful of their personal belongings and space.
While in New York we did have friends and they were kind enough to let us crash with them. We also did a week at AirBnB in Brooklyn and our hosts were AMAZING! We are currently in Bangkok and have friends here so have been staying with them. This will save you heaps and if you have friends that are in an area you are in and happy to let you crash then its a win. Again be respectful of their space and be honest with your communication. You don’t want to put any friendships in jeopardy and ALWAYS repay the favour if/when they want to come and visit/stay with you. Next stop, is Poland which we will be spending time with Dave’s massive family. In the UK we will be looking for short term accommodation, probably AirBnB, until we find work and can get something more permanent.
As this post was a AirBnB vs. Hostels post, we are going to have to tie them. They both offer different things and they both have their ups and downs. We have always found AirBnB accommodation to be more comfortable and homely but it does limit you getting to meet other travels through hostels. We mainly used AirBnB when we wanted a break from hostel life. We recommend using them both throughout your trip. Whether you stay in a hostel or an AirBnB accommodation remember to provide honest reviews. Being honest doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be rude you just need to be honest. It helps others with their future plans.
Till next time.
N and D.