You can save significantly by booking airfare and lodging as part of a single package. For even greater savings, I opt to use hostels instead of hotels. Some might frown at that, but hostels have come a long way. While some might imagine large rooms with rows of rickety bunk beds in dormitory style facilities, in my recent travels, most of the hostels I stayed in provided the option of private rooms with en-suite baths and were better than your average hotels.
The biggest reason I choose hostels over hotels is because I can usually stay within $30 USD a night versus a few hundred per night in a hotel. Hotel concierges will recommend expensive excursions and other costly options that devour a budget. At hostels, I tend to meet like- minded travelers who cherish the local, authentic experience rather than the five-star ceremony reserved for the few. Hostels provide simple and friendly accommodations. And for single travelers, this is a great way to meet people.
The Swanky Mint Hostel in Zagreb, Croatia is one that deserves mention because it has a fantastic sense of community and fellowship. It hosts parties every night. There’s a bar and music, they cook Croatian dishes, keep the kitchen open to guests, and have cozy lounge areas with fire pits for people to enjoy for only $28 USD a night. It was hard not to meet travelers of all ages from around the world who shared awesome travel experiences and recommendations.
At hostels around the world, I met people who sold their business just to travel, flew halfway around the world to visit the breathtaking Plitvice Lakes, visited the Aztec pyramids for an archeology research paper, and others who simply sought a place to exhale. Many were locals who gladly shared with me the best and cheapest ways to get around and must-see hidden gems not reported in travel books. Some people make such an impression that you’ll stay in touch for years. And it’s not only the guests who make my trips memorable. The staff at hostels can be some of the friendliest people you meet on your travels.
The family-run Casa Roa Hostel devotes itself to providing friendly, household style accommodations in México City. Sofia, co- owner of Casa Roa, personally drove me an hour outside the city to give me a tour of the Teotihuacan ruins for a fraction of the price hotels and tour companies were offering. They took me off the tourist path to show me hidden gems enjoyed by locals. My hostel accommodations consisted of a private bedroom with a private bathroom and a backyard with a view of the city. Casa Roa opened their hostel up to me as if I was a member of the family. All of this for the equivalent of $24 USD a night. My stay at the four-star Marriott in Munich could not rival Casa Roa.
Give hostels a try and check out the Hostel World app. It lists all the hostels worldwide with customer reviews and ratings. It’s the easiest booking tool I’ve used when looking for affordable accommodations.