“Booking a place to stay at”, such a trivial and necessary thing in the life of a Backpacker. There are some standard apps out there to help you out in this matter and you might already know all or most of them. However, in this post I want to share my personal recommendations as an experienced traveler.
In general, I stay in hostels most of the time, where you can meet fellow travelers that sometimes can become friends for life. There are some negative points as well (snorers, farters, weirdos, etc) but that’s not really what I want to talk about now.
Popular Sites / Apps
One of the most popular options for hostels is definitely Hostel World where you can see photos, reviews and prices among others, and book a room instantly from the App. Another great option is Booking.com (if you’re traveling Asia, Agoda.com is the partner service and best option) that has a good system of discounts that you can get by accumulating number of bookings. Basically the more places you book using it the more discounts you get. And finally, a great option to book private properties is AirBnb, that sometimes could be a better option (and cheaper than hostels) when you’re not traveling alone.
But these three popular options have some downsides that most of the people don’t consider when it comes to make a reservation and this is where I want to put emphasis on.
- Requires a deposit of ~19% to be paid in advance and only about ~4% goes to the property.
- Cancellations are possible but you need to look into the policy very carefully.
- Doesn’t require a deposit to be paid. However, the property must pay a fee of about ~15% if you concrete a booking through the system.
- Cancellations are like in Hostel World, but the property owner doesn’t get any money unless specified in the policy.
- Doesn’t show the real price when you are searching properties. You find that out at the last stage of booking and in general includes both “cleaning service fee” and “booking fee”, reasons for what the price ends up being sometimes 50% more.
What I always try to do is just to make direct contact with the property and I encourage everyone to do the same. You can use the popular apps to search for places, see photos, read reviews and then try to find the contact of the property (hello Google) that could be the property’s website or a Facebook page. This extra step to make a booking comes with some advantages:
- In most of the places you will get a discount. In some others they will just have the same price offered in the popular apps, but you’ll be helping the property since the money will go to them rather than to a mediator company.
- It’s a more natural and friendly process since the owners of the Hostels are in general the ones replying to your messages, and trust me, they will be grateful.
If you have never tried it out yet, remember it’s never too late 😉