Hostels traditionally rent out individual beds in dormitory rooms, however in the last decade or so they have evolved to accommodate all types of travelers, and most give choices such as private rooms, or dormitory rooms with four, six or eight beds. If you’re really up for a party atmosphere, or simply can sleep even with the joy of having Grand Central Station in your room, then opting for a room with ten, twelve or more beds can get you the cheapest sleep possible, without considering a park bench.
Hostels provide the best atmosphere to meet people, while also providing facilities to help you stretch your traveling dollars. In-house bars, terrace or rooftop deck, laundry, shared kitchen, television room, movie room, and library are all common amenities.
There can be a huge disparity in price and quality from one hostel to the next. Some seem to be run by the same grimy types who own sweatshops and give the impression that if you want to travel cheaply, then your world is limited to threadbare sheets in gloomy bedrooms with no electrical outlets, and dingy bathrooms with backed up shower drains and doors that don’t lock. However, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of great hostels with sparkling clean bathrooms, comfy new beds, free breakfast, cheerful staff, welcoming bar and lots of organized social activities.
The best way to hear about top-notch hostels is word of mouth from people you meet who’ve been there (and most preferably, recently). The second best way is to read reviews posted online by people who have stayed there. And when you find a place you really like, ask the staff if they have any sister properties in the places you’re going to next.
Not keen on spending hundreds of dollars a night on five star accommodations but want your privacy? You’ve still got lots of options! Small, privately run hotels and pensions offer great value for independent travels who require more privacy. These are often well located near the train station or city center, and you may even be able to negotiate for a better price if you’re not traveling in peak season. There are still many many places, such as in Vietnam,Thailand, Laos and India, which simply do not have hostels, and small hotels may be your only choice. However, don’t despair! What you pay for a private room or bungalow in these places in usually far less than you’d pay for a bed in a crowded hostel room.
Hotels Combined finds great deals on hotels for a fraction of their normal listed prices. Great way to stay in a four star hotel for the price of a pension.
Hotels.com search according to price or luxury level in hotels around the world, at great discounted rates.
Home Exchange Register to trade homes with someone in another country for a comfortable and low cost accommodation while living like a local.
CouchSurfing Search to see who has a couch available where you’re going. People offer and look for couches, or to meet up for a drink, in cities around the globe.
Global Freeloaders an online community for free accommodation all over the world.
Stay4Free Meeting place for people searching for and offering free accommodation around the world.