The only right Way to travel is your Way to travel
Everyone has a different technique to organise and plan their travel. Some book everything in advance, some wait until they are there to actually decide where they wanna go. Well, in my opinion, all those options are valid. There is no right and wrong when you organise your trip, there is only what is right for your way of traveling.
In regards to accommodation, I think the same reasonning applies: it completely depends on what you are looking for. To give you an idea, here is a short summary of our different techniques, with their advantages and disadvantages.
Booking.com, Agoda and so on
These websites are great to give you an overview on what’s available in the place you want to sleep. They give you an idea about local prices and what to expect in terms of quality thanks to their great rating systems. Don’t hesitate to use their filter: accommodation located near city center, hotels with swimming pool or including breakfast… Whatever you are looking for, set the right filters and you will gain a lot of time. Finally, sort the results: you want to the best rated hotel? The cheapest one? Sort, and you should find what you are looking for in the top 20 results.
Well except if you are looking for a 4 stars hotel in the city center of London for 20€/night. It is good to dream, but better to stay realistic when you look for an accommodation 😉 Then you have two options: either you book your final choice directly online or you wait, go directly to the hotel and try to book it when you are at the reception.
When do we book in advance online?
When we want to stay in THIS accommodation and no other one. When we know it is high season and everything reasonably priced is going to be fully booked. When there are very few good accommodations and we want to be sure to have a decent place to stay in. All in all, when we want to “play it safe”. The two biggest disadvantages in our option:
- less freedom – Imagine, you arrive at the hotel and for whatever the reason, you don’t like it. Yes, the ratings were really good, but currently the street in front of the hotel is under construction and it is super noisy in the rooms. Well, you have already booked and probably paid your accommodation, so you will stay there…
- more expensive – Booking.com doesn’t work for free, it takes quite a bit of a comission, something around 20% of the total prices you see online. Some hotels aligned their prices on their own website, meaning you will pay the same price weather you book it directly at the reception or on Booking.com. But many others offer better prices when you book directly through them.
What it means to book only once you are there
If you choose not to book your accommodation in advance, I advise you to select 3 to 4 hotels in which you would like to stay. In case your first choice is fully booked, you will have a back-up plan, which is always a good thing 🙂
Ask to see the rooms before agreeing on taking it: you might get a nicer room as the person showing you the room knows that you can decide against it. And finally, you can try to negotiate a little bit if you stay several nights. Note that this won’t work in every country or every hotel category. I think I wouldn’t dare to negotiate a room price in a Hilton. But then, I probably wouldn’t stay in a Hilton in the first place! In South America and in Asia, I very often managed to get a 5% discount. It is not much, but it is better than nothing 😉
If you are not a great fan of Internet or of you don’t have a connection, it might be a good option to trust a travel guide. They offer a summary of available accommodations with a short description and price ranges. You also get accommodation contact details, so that you can contact them if you wish to book a room in advance.
I have to admit that this is not my favourite technique to find an accommodation. For some aspects, I really like travel guides. I think they are great to give you an idea about the country, where you want to go, which activity you can do. But I don’t really like them to pick a restaurant or a hotel. Indeed, their information are not always up-to-date, especially in regards to prices. In Argentina for example, where annual inflation can get as high as 40%, a price that was valid 6 months ago might be completely wrong at the time of your travel.
And there is also what I would call “the Travel Guide Effect”. Accommodations in travel guides tend to be easily fully booked, which might lead to owners increasing their prices. And suddenly, you have a price value relationship which is not good anymore.
But still, if you don’t want to spend ages searching for a good accommodation and you don’t like surfing on the Internet, Travel guides will simplify your life and greatly help you to find a nice hotel.
Going randomly Through the city
Not every accommodation is advertised on the Internet. This is especially true for small, family run hotels. Or they might be only present on a website that you don’t use. That was the case for our accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama for example, and we really liked it. I normally don’t particularly enjoy to leave things to hazard, but surprinsingly, we did find very nice accommodations by doing this!
Let me get one thing straight though: I would never ever do that in a big city such as Paris or Lima! But in a small place, where every hotel is located in a 10 walking minutes circle, it is manageable. This method is the one which will cost you the least research time beforehand, but you might spend quite a lot of time running through the city to find a nice accommodation 😉
Finally, listening to recommendations is the last method we use during our travel to find a good place to sleep. When you Travel, you meet a lot of amazing people, always ready to share their travel tips with you. It is something I actually love, exchanging with fellow travellers about beautiful places they have been to, nice activities or comfortable accommodation.
Be aware that what is for someone a nice accommodation might be for you a very bad hotel. But generally, we had only positive experiences when we followed tips of other travellers.
That’s it! Now you know all our techniques to find and book our accommodations. Pick the ones you like, and go discover the world 😀