5 Different Types of Cheap Accomodation and What’s Right For You

When deciding on your travel accomodation, there are a few different options to consider. The one you choose will depend on your preferences when it comes to: privacy, safety, budget, proximity to city centres and places of interest, and the amount of people you’re traveling with.

5 Different Types of Cheap Accomodation and What's Right For You

I travel with my partner, Russell. I’ve only ever traveled solo once, and that was with Contiki, so I wasn’t really alone anyway! Russell and I like our privacy, and we’re happy to budget a little bit more for cheap accomodation that’s still comfortable. If you’re a backpacker, you probably want to spend as little on accomodation as possible. That’s why it’s best to know what your options are before booking anything!

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Here are 5 main types of cheap accomodation, and which travelers they are suited to!

HOTELS

Hotels are our accomodation of choice. We are happy to spend a couple hundred dollars each on a decent hotel, mainly because we like to be comfortable and we like our privacy. There are a ton of comparison sites out there, which have been created for you to find cheap accomodation that suit your needs. Websites such as Hotels Combined and Trivago are great to check the cheapest rate across all major hotel booking websites. Hotel Quickly, is a great website that allows you to book hotels at the last minute. Simply type in your destination and dates of travel, and all available hotels will be listed for you to browse! How convenient!

Here are some of the pros and cons for hotel accomodation:

PROS

  • Privacy
    Hotels are one of the better options if enjoy privacy while traveling. You’ll have your own room and bathroom, and unless you’re stuck with loud neighbours, hotels are the much more peaceful option!
  • Comfort
    Generally, most hotels will be fairly decent in the way of comfort. Obviously the more you spend, the more luxurious and comfortable the room and hotel in general will be.
  • Convenience
    If you’re looking for a hotel that’s close to popular tourist attractions, you won’t struggle too hard in doing so. The only downside to choosing a convenient hotel location, is the price.
  • Hotel facilities and services
    Services such as room service, laundry service, the pool and sauna, gym and restaurant(s) are some of the perks you’ll have access to when staying in hotels!
  • 24/7 reception
    Most hotels have reception staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is great if your flight doesn’t arrive until early in the morning or late at night, giving you the option to check in outside of regular hours!

CONS

  • Hotels can be expensive
    If your budget doesn’t allow much wiggle room in the way of accomodation, hotels probably aren’t your best bet. Depending on the location, they can be pretty pricey. Do your research before booking, to find the best deal available!
  • Hotels aren’t the best option for long-term stay
    If you plan on visiting a city for an extended period of time, staying in hotels will become expensive. For long-term stay, there are far better options when it comes to cheap accomodation – keep reading!

Conclusion: Hotels are perfect for short term stays. For budget travelers who would prefer to stay in hotels, start your search further away from city centres and major tourist attractions. Hotels are great for convenience and privacy, but not so much for budget friendly, cheap accomodation.

HOSTELS

I’ve personally never stayed in a hostel, and honestly, I don’t have any desire to. That’s mainly due to the fact that both Russell and I like our privacy while traveling. We like to be in our own little bubble, especially after a long day of exploring. Winding down with some local TV, a glass of wine and sharing memories from the day, is most enjoyable in the comfort of our hotel room.

That being said, there are travelers who swear by hostels for both domestic and international travel. Hostels are generally marketed towards backpackers, but anyone can stay in them, so don’t let that deter you! When booking with a hostel, you’re booking a bed as opposed to a room. That means there are a few different options: private dorms, mixed dorms and female only dorms. Generally dorm sizes will range between 4 beds up to 20 beds. You’ll be given the option when booking, as to which type of room you would prefer!

Here are some pros and cons for hostel accomodation:

PROS

  • Hostels are super inexpensive
    If you’re looking for the most budget friendly type of accomodation, hostels are probably your best bet. In most countries, you can find a 4-8 bed dorm for under $30 per night.
  • Great for the social aspect of traveling
    Hostels are great if you’re traveling solo, or even with a group of friends. Since that you’re sharing a room with multiple other people, you’re forced to be social and interact with the people around you. If you’re traveling solo, this gives you a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends from all over the world!
  • Hostels are (almost) everywhere
    Hostels are pretty common in most places around the world. Depending on where you are, they will vary in price, comfort and cleanliness, but overall, they’re easy to find.
  • They’re generally in good, central locations
    Given that hostels are meant to be easy, cheap and convenient, you’ll find that there are quite a few in most major cities. You’ll more than likely be in close proximity to public transport and a good selection of food options. But again, do your research on the area before booking any sort of cheap accomodation!

CONS

  • You won’t have much privacy
    If you’re like Russell and I, and you enjoy your privacy while traveling, hostels aren’t for you. Unless you’re lucky enough to book a private dorm, you’ll more than likely be in a room with up to 20 other people. Most of which, you would have never met before. This can lead to some pretty awkward situations, especially in mixed dorms. So make sure to consider this if you’re looking to book a hostel.
  • You’ll have to share a bathroom
    Generally, most hostels have a shared bathroom. This means you’ll have to share a bathroom with a dozen or more people. Very few hostels have private bathrooms.
  • High risk of theft
    Given that you’ll be sharing the same space with other people, the risk of theft is much higher than that of a hotel room. Especially if your dorm doesn’t have a safe or locker available. Make sure you bring along your own high quality luggage lock, to keep your personal belongings safe while you’re out and about.
  • Hostels generally aren’t staffed 24/7 
    There may be a few exceptions (remember, I’ve never actually stayed in a hostel myself), but generally speaking, hostels aren’t staffed 24 hours a day. Therefore, if you arrive early in the morning or late in the day, you may not be able to check in.
  • Hostels can be unclean and may have a higher chance of bed bugs
    I’ve read horror stories about hostels from around the world having bad bed bug issues. Bed bugs are huge annoyances, and as soon as they come in contact with your luggage, you’re essentially screwed. When you arrive at your hostel, make sure to check the covers on your bed. If you notice small black bugs or dots throughout your sheets, leave the room immediately and either ask for another room, or leave the hostel.
    Note: If your luggage does come in contact with bed bugs, you’ll need to wash ALL of your clothing in hot water, clean and rinse shoes, backpacks or handbags and leave everything out in the sun to dry.

TIPS FOR STAYING IN HOSTELS

  • Make sure you bring your own toiletries
    Hostels generally don’t provide toiletries, so bring your own to avoid any awkward situations! Check the hostel’s website before arrival, to see what the hostel provides in the way of toiletries and bedding.
  • Bring thongs (flip-flops) to wear in the shower
    Whether you’re traveling during summer or not, make sure you bring a pair of flip-flops that you don’t mind throwing away at the end of your trip. Hostels and, more specifically, hostel showers have been used by people from all over the world. For your own personal hygiene and safety, it’s a good idea to wear flip flops in the shower.
  • Hostel dorms can (and will) be loud. Be prepared – bring ear plugs and a sleeping mask
    If your dorm mates are coming home from a night out, in the early hours of the morning, you’ll want something to drown out the noise and light. Although it’s common practice for people staying in hostels to be considerate of others in the dorm, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. It’s best to come prepared, incase you’re stuck with a less than respectful dorm buddy.
  • Invest in a high quality luggage lock (or two)
    As I mentioned earlier, hostels are prone to theft. Given that you’re in the same dorm with multiple people, you should never assume that your belongings are safe. Purchase a good quality, secure luggage lock before you arrive. That way, even if you spend the whole day exploring the city, you know your personal items are safe!

Conclusion: Hostels aren’t for everyone. If you like your privacy, safety, security and cleanliness, I would opt for another form of cheap accomodation. If you’re all about the social aspect and convenience of travel, do some research on the area you plan on staying to find some well-rated hostels.

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AIRBNB

Airbnb’s are a relatively new type of travel accomodation. Airbnb’s are good for groups of friends, couples staying in the same city for an extended period of time, travelers who don’t like to socialise and people who would generally prefer a more private style of cheap accomodation.

Airbnb works by ‘hosts’ essentially renting their own property out for a certain period of time. The accomodation can be a single room, an apartment, a group of rooms, houseboats or entire houses. As a traveler, you’ll search for the destination you’ll be visiting, length of time you plan on staying, style of room and price range.

Here are some pros and cons for Airbnb accomodation:

PROS

  • Airbnb’s are a great way to save money
    Depending on the type of room or house you ‘rent’ during your stay, you could be potentially saving a good chunk of money. Airbnb’s are generally cheaper than hotels, but do some research beforehand to see which option suits you.
  • You’ll (probably) have access to a kitchen and cooking essentials
    This is another great way to save money while traveling. Booking an Airbnb room or house, will more than likely mean you’ll have access to a full kitchen. Check the rules and guidelines of what your host allows, but being able to cook some meals will save a ton on food, as you won’t be eating out all the time!
  • Comfort and a home-like feel
    Given that generally with Airbnb you’re staying in someone’s house, it will probably feel more comfortable and ‘home-like’ than if you were to stay in a hotel.
  • Great for a group of friends or a family
    Airbnb’s are perfect for those weekend getaways with friends, or a big family reunion trip. You can generally find entire houses available to rent for short periods of time.

CONS

  • Airbnb hosts can sometimes be sketchy
    By this I mean: cancelled stays, non-refunded money, lack of communication – things like that. There have been quite a few stories released over the past few months about less than wonderful experiences using Airbnb. Make sure you read reviews about your potential host before making a booking.
  • Lack of privacy
    This is the case whether you’re a host or a guest. If you choose to simply rent out a room as opposed to renting an entire house, you’ll more than likely have to interact with the host/owner of the house. If this is something that doesn’t appeal, make sure you narrow down your Airbnb search to renting out houses.

Conclusion: Airbnb is a great option for groups of friends or couples who don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of privacy. You’ll get a very homely feel, and with convenient access to a kitchen, you can save big on the food budget. Make sure to read all reviews about your host before making a booking.

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CAMPING SITES

Camping sites come in all shapes and sizes. In very road-trip heavy countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, there are ample sites to please even the pickiest camper. I am a born and raised Australian, so I can vouch for the fact that we have a ton of free and cheap camping sites. It all comes down to your location and price range!

Here are some pros and cons for accomodation at camping sites:

PROS

  • Great for budget travelers
    Since camping sites can literally be simply a patch of dirt, they come really cheap these days. Of course you have the option of a powered site, but if you’re trying to stick to a cheap budget, camping grounds are your best bet!
  • Opportunity to camp at beautiful locations
    The best thing about camping, is you can sleep literally almost anywhere. There are some great apps available that list any camping grounds nearby, whether or not they’re free and what amenities you’ll find. But if you do a little bit of further research, you can come across some incredible locations, some for free!
  • Sunsets and sunsets
    Need I say more? Camping at beautiful places like the ocean and national parks (that allow camping), means you’ll be able to enjoy sunrises and sunsets from the best possible locations. Totally worth it!

CONS

  • Bug bites and sleeping outside
    If you’re not a fan of sleeping in a tent on the ground, I highly suggest renting a camper van or RV. Otherwise, prepare to be eaten alive by bugs, and more than likely have the worst sleep of your life!
  • Middle of the night toilet runs
    If you don’t have an RV, you’ll have to leave your tent for those middle of the night toilet runs. This probably isn’t ideal during colder months!

Conclusion: If you’re a fan of the outdoors, love getting close to nature and want a budget friendly accomodation option, check out the camping sites at your destination. Be prepared and take along some bug spray, you’ll thank me later!

HOLIDAY PARKS/CARAVAN PARKS

Holiday parks (or caravan parks) are essentially a fancier style of camping. They’re generally made for people who have an RV or camper van, although some do have cabins and rooms available. Holiday parks are super kid friendly, and most will have playgrounds, swimming pools and tons of outdoor activities for the kids to enjoy.

Note: If you’re planning to stay in a caravan park during peak, busy times during the year, I suggest booking decently far in advance. This is especially important if you’re heading to a popular tourist destination, during a prime special occasions time in the year.

Here are some pros and cons about holiday park accomodation:

PROS

  • You have the option for more comfortable accomodation
    If you’re not a fan of camping in the middle of no where, caravan parks are still a good option for cheap accomodation. Depending on the location, you can find nightly stays starting at $20.
  • Kids will have a blast
    Like I mentioned, holiday parks generally have a ton of fun activities for kids. I’ve been to a couple of holiday parks that have giant trampoline style activities, which are a lot of fun!
  • Some holiday parks are pet friendly
    Always double check before booking, but some caravan parks allow pets (within reason) to tag along! So if you want to bring your furry friend, do some research to find the pet-friendly holiday parks in the city you’re visiting!
  • Cook up a barbecue storm!
    Holiday parks have tons of BBQ’s available for guests to use. You’ll obviously need to provide your own cutlery, food and the like, but it’s a great way to socialise and have some fun with family and friends!

CONS

  • Shared bathrooms and showers
    Unless your RV or camper van has an inbuilt toilet and shower, you’ll have to use the shared holiday park facilities. I recommend bringing some sanitary wipes, because not everyone’s cleanliness standards will be as high as yours!
  • Some nights may get noisy
    Depending on the place you’re staying and what time of year, holiday parks can get pretty busy. Especially during long weekends and special occasions. Prepare to be stuck with loud, partying caravan neighbours, if you choose to stay during peak times during the year.
  • Can be uncomfortable if you’re staying for an extended period of time
    If you’re not one who enjoys nature and not having the comfort of an actual home, caravan parks may not be the right fit for you. It can get frustrating having to share facilities with strangers for extended periods of time, so keep that in mind before booking your stay!

Conclusion: Holiday parks are great for families and groups of friends, as they’re a cheap, less uncomfortable version of camping. Bring along some food, cooking supplies and utensils, to make the most of the included, shared barbecues. If you’re looking to bring your pet along for the ride, call the holiday park before booking and ask if they’re pet friendly!


So there you have it! The 5 main types of travel accomodation. What’s your favourite type of cheap accomodation? Do you prefer hostels over hotels? Holiday parks over camping sites? Tell me in the comments below! 

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5 Different Types of Cheap Accomodation and What's Right For You

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  • Great idea to share your perspective on different accommodation types when travelling. I enjoy staying in hotels and airbnbs but hostels are a great option too if you’re travelling long-term on a budget. I usually stay in private hostel rooms with a private bathroom 🙂

    • I think everyone is different when it comes to accomodation options, but hostels are definitely the best option for long term travelers! Thanks for reading, Sandy 🙂

  • Great round-up of the pros & cons! Hotels too will be my top choice especially when travelling solo. I have yet to try the last 2 in your list, definitely hope to try them while I’m still healthy and fit!

    • Thanks for reading, Kristine! Hotels are a great option, especially for solo and/or first time travelers 🙂

  • Great description of the options! My teen and I usually use airbnb or we car camp in truck stops or Walmarts. We also housesit often, which is a great was to get private and quality accommodation for cheap!

    • I love that you camp in Walmarts! lol! Housesitting is also a great option! I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve heard of people who have and they’ve had good things to say. Thanks for reading, Amanda! 🙂

  • For folks who like the traveler resources hostels offer but don’t want to share rooms/bathrooms — many hostels have very nice private rooms that are much cheaper than hotels (in the US they can be closer to $80 a night, but in much of the world they’re more like $15 a night). And after staying in hundreds of hostels, I’ve only ever encountered one that didn’t have 24-hour staff — it’s easy to check that when booking and avoid ones that don’t have it.

    • That’s great advice! Like I mentioned in the post, I’m not too familiar with hostels. So thanks for sharing this tip! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Carrie!

  • Really well done rundown of all the best options for cheaper accommodations! I have mostly used hotels, Airbnbs and hostels thus far myself!

    • Thanks Sierra! It’s good to know your options before booking accomodation, especially for first time travelers! 🙂

  • I just watched this clip on CollegeHumor the other day (Adam ruins everything?? something like that) about Airbnb and how it may not follow safety regulations and gets away with not following certain laws that are normally applied to hotels/hostels etc! Bummer because I use Airbnb a lot!

  • Airbnb is by far my FAV of all time! I am obsessed and think it’s such a great way to experience a city! I’m heading to Europe soon on a super tight budget, so I’m interested to see what the Hostels are like 🙂 Great post!

  • Thanks for such a comprehensive list of cheap accommodations – I often am overwhelmed in trying to picking where to stay that’s affordable and right for me (and in the context of that specific trip). I love your list of pros and cons here!

    • Thanks so much for reading, Caroline! It can be hard trying to choose the right type of accomodation. Especially if you’re unsure of the options. 🙂

  • Great article, I’m glad you mentioned checking to see if bringing a pet is an option at Caravan parks. My family and I want to stay at one next summer for an extended amount of time, but we have two dogs and I want to make sure that they can come as well. I really like the idea of a caravan park because we love nature and the ones we’ve been looking into have great accommodations for kids.

    • Caravan parks are a great option for families! Tons of space and freedom, plus the perk of being outdoors! Definitely check to find some pet friendly parks in the area you’re staying. I’m sure there are lots! Thanks for reading 🙂