Traveling and hotels go hand in hand, since the latter offer accommodation to travelers. Hotel rooms range from basic beds in a small room to luxury suites with round-the-clock service, and prices reflect the level of services offered. Hotel amenities may include restaurants, bars and lounges, a business center, spa facilities and meeting space. Some hotels are owned by airlines, railways and ferries, while others are operated by independent owners. Rooms at hotels are generally reserved in advance and are available only to people with a booking, which may be made either directly with the hotel or through intermediaries such as travel websites (aggregators) and travel agents.
For those on a budget, avoiding hotels in major cities and tourist hubs can save money. Additionally, many hotels have lower rates on the weekdays than on weekends when they are busy with business travelers. Staying in a hostel or guesthouse can also be a cheaper option, but be sure to read reviews before you book.
Bundling accommodations can also help you cut costs. Many online travel agencies, including the well-known Travelocity and Expedia, are known for selling vacation packages, which combine a flight, hotel and car rental for one price. Similarly, airlines and travel operators often offer discounted trips as part of a larger marketing campaign. Daily deal sites such as Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes offer bargains on trips, too.
Another option for lodging is home exchange, in which you stay in someone else’s house while they are away. Websites such as Homeaway and Airbnb can connect you with hosts around the world willing to let you use their home for a fraction of the cost of staying in a traditional hotel. In addition to housing, these sites can also connect you with farmstays and other types of experiential travel.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of travel lodging. A hotel can offer privacy and a sense of safety, while a hostel can be noisy and social. Some travelers might find a hostel a good fit, while others may not enjoy sharing a dorm room with strangers.
For a social alternative to a hotel, consider connecting with hospitality-minded folks through Couchsurfing. This website allows people to electronically meet and arrange free stays in homes, apartments, rooms, and even entire condos. Unlike traditional hotels, however, most hosts will not provide the meals that you would expect from the name of the travel accommodation type. For instance, a home exchange may include breakfast, but not dinner or lunch. Likewise, a B&B might include only the morning meal, while a full-board rate may include three meals plus snacks.