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Hotels, Hostels, Or...

The most common option for travelers' accommodations is hotels. But there are hostels and other options, so how do you know which is best for you? You can start by understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each possibility.

Basic Hotels

The "standard" option for most travelers, hotels give you privacy and the usual amenities. They are not necessarily expensive either, if you shop online before taking your trip. Something as simple as using the coupons found in the discount books available at gas stations and convenience stores along the freeways can cut the cost in half at some places, or at least save you $10 at or more at most.


Young travelers often love hostels. Others wouldn't ever stay in one at any price. The basic idea is that you rent a bed instead of a room, and you share common bathrooms and showers. People from around the world will be there typically, and common television viewing areas and kitchens make meeting them inevitable - a nice advantage if you are a social person. Atmosphere and money-savings is what make hostels so attractive to many.

However, if you're traveling with a partner, you'll pay for two beds, so there may not be much savings versus a hotel room for the two of you. Also, the idea of sharing a bathroom rules out hostels for some travelers. There is a good compromise available at many hostels: stay there for the atmosphere, but rent a private room. Not all of them have this option, so call ahead.

In general, hostels are oriented towards young travelers and anyone seeking a cheap place to stay. They also tend to be less clean than hotels, and they are difficult to find in the United States. You can check online to see if there is one where you'll be heading. One site that works well for this (and has ratings too) is Hostel World. Read this Wikipedia entry for more about the hostel concept.

Bed and Breakfast

This is a cleaner, more expensive version of a private room in a hostel. Visitors you might share a breakfast with will generally be wealthier, older, and perhaps less likely to be from other countries (at least for B & Bs in the states). Also, depending where you are, a room may cost more or less than a nice hotel room in the same city. Bed and breakfast reviews can be found online now, making it easier to choose one.

Time Share Rentals

You may not have considered this one, but many owners of units in time share resorts do not have the time to use them, and so they rent them out. A rental of this sort can sometimes be a cheaper way to get a great deal on a vacation suite, and there are thousands of time share rentals all over the world.


It is common to pretend one is saving money by traveling in an RV rather than staying at hotels, but few add up the cost of gas, maintenance, and park fees. If you do that little bit of math it will probably become clear that it's cheaper to stay at the best hotels available, even if you don't take into account the RV rental fee or cost of buying one of these vehicles. It's a "style of travel" issue, meaning that if you like camping, but not in a tent, and you like having your "home" with you, this may work well for you, even if it isn't a money-saver. It is nice to not carry suitcases to and from hotels, or to have no tent to set up each night.


Camping is the cheapest option if done the right way. This can be in a tent or in a van set up for the purpose, and there are even free campgrounds around, like the ones we stayed at in northern Florida. A free campground we spent a week at on Lake Talquin even had hot showers.

Typically you'll be paying from $7 at a national forest campground to $30 if you can only find an RV camp. Many of the best places are not even campgrounds, but public lands you can camp on for free. These include BLM land, national forests and state forests, which are usually free without a permit for up to 14 days in a given spot.

Other Possibilities

Plan a trip to places where friends live, and stay with them for a while. There are also the more unusual options, like the tree houses you can rent in Mexico, and caves that are open for camping in Greece. Basic hotels and hostels are just a start for the adventurous traveler.

Other Pages:

United States Travel
Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations

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