When heading out on the road, you might be overwhelmed by suggestions of where to go and where to stay. I’m sure you’ll have some idea of your dream destination — but once you get there, where do you sleep? There are a multitude of accommodation options, and your choice will be influenced by both your budget and your inclination.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 225 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

From super-budget to high-end, let’s look at some of the accommodation options for travellers.

Roughing it

Whether it’s sleeping in the airport, on a beach, or in the wilderness, anywhere you don’t have a bed to sleep in or a roof over your head counts as roughing it. It might be inevitable at some point in your travels — even business men sleep in airports sometimes — and it might be your preferred way to sleep. If you’re planning on roughing it a lot, make sure you take a sleeping bag that’s suitable to the conditions, and scout around for any possible dangers before setting up your bed.

As a guest

Staying with friends and family can be a great way to travel, but it doesn’t necessarily save you much money. Sure, you’re not paying for accommodation, but it’s important to buy a gift and perhaps take your hosts out for a meal — and not at McDonald’s. Remember to be polite, and to not spread your stuff out all over the house.


Couchsurfing is similar to staying with friends or family, except that you don’t actually know your hosts. Before you set off to your destination, you can log on to a website like couchsurfing.org or hospitalityclub.org and look for hosts in the place you’re heading to. Then you can get in touch with them via email and hopefully they will offer you a place to stay.

…freedom to stop when you want to…

Make sure you approach potential hosts as far in advance as possible, and it’s okay to contact a few people. Some users don’t check their emails as often as you might like, and others don’t contact you if they can’t host you.

The benefit of couchsurfing is that your host is a local, and by being part of the network, it probably interested in travelling. They can recommend the best places to visit, and might even show you around a bit. Be wise though, don’t stay with someone you don’t like the look of — if you’re new to couchsurfing, consider travelling with a partner first.

See: How to couchsurf and Why couchsurfing is perfect for couples.

Take your home with you

Spaceship at Kaikoura

The type of accommodation you choose will also be influenced by the type of travel you’re doing. For a road trip, a campervan might be your best option — for the budget version, just throw a tent in the boot of your car.

The benefit of taking your home with you is that you have freedom to stop when you want to. You could sleep at a beach, beside a river, or in a supermarket car park if the fancy takes you. Of course, there are holiday parks where you can power up and take a shower, and some people will choose to stay at one of those every night of the trip. The size of the campervan you choose will be determined by the size of the group and the amount of space you need — but you don’t need a lot.

We like the Spaceship model — a people-mover car converted into a mini-campervan. There’s sleeping space for two people, a fridge, a DVD player and everything you need for cooking. It’s great for exploring in summer, and since it’s a car it’s easy to drive. See Spaceships in New Zealand, Australia and Britain.

Hostel — dorm

Hostelling is one of the most well-known budget options, and the traditional way to do it is to stay in a dorm with between three and thirty other people. This has its pros and cons. It’s cheap (much cheaper than staying in a hotel), and it’s a great way to meet fellow travellers. But dorm rooms can be noisy, and and your dorm-mates might not have the greatest consideration for you or your belongings.

SEE: 7 reasons hostels suck and 7 reasons hostels rock.

When choosing a hostel to stay in, check out the ratings on the website you’re booking on. Make sure it has high safety, location and cleanliness ratings – “fun” usually means “raucousness” and so a low rating is what I look for there. A smaller dorm is usually going to be quieter than a large one, and if you’re a girl a female-only dorm might be worth considering. Also check out the facilities — if you’re planning on self-catering, a kitchen is important, and if you’re a flashpacker check that wifi is available.

Booking cheap accommodation through https://indietravelpodcast.com/hostels earns Indie Travel Podcast a small commission.

Hostel — private room

A slightly more expensive option that retains all the benefits of hostelling but few of the disadvantages, is to book a private room in a hostel. More and more hostels these days provide private rooms, and some also come with an ensuite. This can be a lot cheaper than a hotel, and you still get the advantage of a kitchen, book exchange and lounge to meet other travellers in.

Budget hotel

A new breed of hotel has started to emerge, which don’t have all the features you might expect from a hotel, but also don’t have the high price tag. In Europe the more ell-known ones are Hotel Formule 1 and Etap, and there are other options as well. You’ll always have a private room, but you might have to share a bathroom, and sometimes there is no-one on duty overnight. Investigate the oddities of your hotel online before you book.


Despite their slightly seedy reputation, a motel might be just what you’re after. Since they are generally located on the outskirts of town, you’ll probably need your own transport to get there — hence the name “motor hotel”. Holiday parks often have cabins or private rooms which offer similar features to motel rooms — namely a private room that opens outside, ensuite and tea and coffee making facilities. Many motel rooms also have a kitchen, so if self-catering is a priority, a motel room might be a good option.

Guesthouse/pension/bed and breakfast

Guesthouses, pensions and bed and breakfasts are usually a lot smaller than your standard hotel. You might be boarding in a private house, or there might be up to twenty bedrooms available. You’ll usually have a private bathroom, but not always. They can be a great place to stay, since they are all unique — you don’t tend to get the plastic standardisation of hotels. The owner is often your host, which adds to the experience if he or she is a bit quirky (and hosts often seem to be quirky!).

Vacation rental

If you’re travelling with a group of people, and plan to stay in one place for a while, consider renting an entire house or apartment for the duration of your stay. You may have to pay per person, but usually you pay one price regardless of how many people are staying, which can be very economical if you have a large group.

House swap

Similarly, if you’re heading out on holiday with your family to one destination, and you’re likely to be staying there for a week or more, it might be worth looking into swapping houses with someone who lives in your destination. You live in their house, they live in yours. Even when you factor in some cheap international flights, you could be having a holiday for less than the cost of staying at home! This style of holiday was made famous by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz in the movie “The Holiday” — and that all worked out well!


Finally, there’s the hotel. It definitely isn’t the budget option, but you can often find a good deal by looking at websites like booking.com, lastminute.com or wotif.com — make sure you check out what facilities are available before you book. Although you’ll get a private room with ensuite, hotels are quite impersonal, and it’s difficult to meet other travellers even if there’s a bar. I also found that I have higher expectations of hotels, and am often disappointed at what I get for the price I pay.

Wherever you choose to sleep, make sure you take advantage of what your accommodation has to offer — have a spa bath if you’ve got one in your hotel room, hang out in the hostel lounge or swim in the holiday park’s pool. But above all, enjoy yourself!

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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Your thoughts on "Travel accommodation options podcast"

  • Wow, I think you have pretty much covered all types of accommodation in your excellent article. Im not sure which would best suite me I suppost it depends on where I am and what I was doing.

    on May 15, 2009 at 9:47 pm Reply
  • Great breakdown of all of the different types of accommodations. I love wotif.com We used that website a lot in Asia whenever we needed a break from guest houses, got some great deals on more luxurious hotels. When we were in Vietnam, we stayed in hotels for about 4 or 5 dollars a night. They weren't exactly hotels, but not guesthouses either, I remember calling them mini hotels.

    on May 16, 2009 at 10:15 am Reply
  • Great summary of the various options. I think back and have tried just about all of these )though not COuchSurfing) from sleeping in the scoop of a crane near a port (when a boat dropped me off at midnight) to some really really nice hotels. Nice summary.

    on May 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm Reply
  • You could also try hanging out at 24 hour internet cafes or 24 hour cafes/restaurants in general. I'm sure you wouldn't be there first or last person to have given it a go. Some places there are movie theatre having late showings that finish in the small hours of the morning, if you have an early morning train or place to catch.

    on May 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm Reply
  • excellent summary. for myself, as a traveler with disabilities, many options are out bc of lack of handicap accessibility. i always try to plan ahead, if i can!

    on May 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm Reply
  • Great information... as always. Thanks a lot

    on June 10, 2009 at 8:24 am Reply
  • This is a very useful list! Thank you. For now, we're traveling in the 'bring your own home way' - and it's far more comfortable than I ever imagined. Our little 17' solar powered travel trailer gives us everything we need to live, work and play while in travel full-time. We also 'driveway surf' with friends and folks who offer us a place to park when we're routing through an area. It's been fabulous, and a great way to meet and spend time with people. And best of all.. we're not really a guest. More like a temporary neighbor. For us, that has made it sustainable for just over 2 years now - we're always at home and always in travel :) In the future, we imagine we'll take to other modes, and finding affordable accommodations for when we can't tow our house behind us will be essential. It's good to start getting acquainted with it all. - Cherie / http//www.technomadia.com

    on June 10, 2009 at 10:04 am Reply
  • Thanks guys. Some more good ideas and ... well ... we always love compliments.

    on June 10, 2009 at 9:15 am Reply
  • Great post!!Thanks for the information. For me, I think Vacation Rental is the best value for money solution for travel!!Once I rented a huge three bed rooms apartment in central Berlin for for just 100Euro/night!! Everything is included: internet, fully equipted kitchen, nice view over the Berlin TV tower!! So so so nice!! Try it out!!

    on July 16, 2009 at 8:58 pm Reply
  • i'm glad to have visited your blog and good to know you! I find it interesting and informative

    on August 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm Reply
  • I don't mind where I sleep as long as I have a head over my head and a blanket of course.

    on November 5, 2009 at 2:46 am Reply
  • on 'vacation rentals' part: I used www.vrbo.com and loved it each time - you're right, best "if you’re travelling with a group of people." thanks for sharing - love it!

    on November 19, 2009 at 6:02 am Reply
  • Wow this article brings back some memories from traveling Australia a few years ago. When I first got there it was time to check into a modest yet comfortable hostel. Then it steadily turned into a mission to find the cheapest place to sleep. We chose the option to rent out a really nice 2 bedroom condo in the middle of Sydney and then invite 10 people to stay there and share the rent. It was great fun hiding in cupboards when the landlord turned up! Great times.

    on March 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm Reply
  • Home swapping is fantastic option particularly if your budget is tight and or you are planning to be away for an extended period. This can offer you a sense of permanency whilst traveling the region. Often a car is also included in the swap. You will be also fortunate in that you are more likely to meet locals who will offer invaluable tips and local outings for you to enjoy. Again a fantastic article.

    on April 5, 2010 at 4:53 am Reply
  • Fantastic, but I have one more that would probably fit in home swapping category, but not quite. It is WOOFERS. WOOFERS means WORLD WIDE OPPORTUNITY ON ORGANIC FARMS. The organization will assist you in matching your skills with that of a host farm. SO during your travels you would eat, live and work within a local community. Fantastic concept and I know it to work very well.

    on May 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm Reply
  • You missed out on tent camping! We used to do this a lot when we were young, and as a family of seven, our parents simply cannot afford to put us in hotel rooms during our holidays. My father bought a caravan when I was ten and that was a great way to stay and travel as well.

    on June 16, 2010 at 3:02 am Reply
  • Accommodation is most important step of traveling. It could be helpful if you get an appropriate accommodation. It is really nice post that explain the different aspects of accommodation. we should get an accommodation before starting traveling

    on September 9, 2010 at 2:13 am Reply
  • Couch surfing, now this is not my idea of paradise. Sure an overnight or two on friends sofa can be cool, but no longer. Equally, I have been on the other side of the coin. Being the owner of the house and having many friends drop in and couch sleep is so uncool, particularly when we are all travelers and money is at a premium. Too often our friends or travel mates do not think of the cost and see it as a entitlement, when just offering to pay for a meal would be cool as compensation.

    on October 19, 2010 at 4:27 am Reply
  • Obviously it isn't for you, Simon, but have you ever checked out Couchsurfing? It's quite far from what you've described ... Maybe you need to have a chat with your friends?

    on October 19, 2010 at 5:01 am Reply
  • […] I’m imagining things, but it feels like there are a lot more accommodation options available now than there were when we first started travelling. This means that even the most […]

    on August 12, 2015 at 6:01 am Reply
  • […] Book your tickets there and away Once you have your accommodation, look into transport. There are budget flights to Valencia, and getting to the city from the […]

    on August 12, 2015 at 10:00 am Reply

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