(Footprints Hostel where I stayed in Singapore)
When I was just starting to travel, that was of course, not traveling solo yet. I tend to believe every advertisements about accommodation style and prices I see on newspapers, magazines, or even on travel sites and blogs. Little did I know that I was being ripped off by so much money. Until I started backpacking with my friend T. T was into budget hostel, but I wasn’t that time, I have no idea of what backpacking means then. All I know is that when I travel, it should always be luxurious and splurgy, but I didn’t learn much of getting the best deal then or real backpacking lifestyle either.
Nope, not until I started backpacking all by myself. Of course I didn’t know I could do it on my own too, until I met Cailin, Jenz, and Miguel in Cambodia. Cailin especially, she encouraged me to do it and its possible. I didn’t do it right away, but it was couple of weeks after when I found myself solo traveling back to Cambodia(only that time it’s Phnom Penh, in transit to HCMC). Doing it alone there is always a thought in your head that this or that may happen, my budget might not be enough, blah blah… Which taught me how to tighten my budget real hard. Honestly, when I get to a place, done what I want to do and see then having some extra things to do unexpectedly that suits my budget? It’s always heaven. I get so fulfilled that I did this and that on a shoestring budget.
Mainly, what’s getting the most chunk of a backpacker’s budget is accommodation. Yes indeed, that is the crucial breaker of your budget! Even now that I have been backpacking on my own, I still get ripped off. That happens when I become too lazy to find more information about the place I’m going to and just believe everything I see, hear, or read. Lately, because I am not loving getting ripped off(who does?!), my skill on spotting the best backpacker hostel deal is getting better and how/why I choose hostels. Here are few tips on how to get the best deals as you can…
- Use Accommodation Finder. There are a lot of booking engines available out there that can help you get the best backpacker hostel deals but make sure to compare the prices they have from the competitive booking engines.
- Maximize Internet Research. Even though I use booking engines to find good hostel deals, I still don’t confine to that tool. I use internet to research cheaper than what the booking engines have, some hostels that are nice and offers the same or better deals may not be present online yet. I take notes of those nice hostels that does not have websites yet and check them out when I get there.
- Ask a Local. If you have a local friend to that place, he/she can give you a local perspective on price. You can get a good idea as to how much roughly you should be charged when you walk in to a good backpacker’s hostel.
- Get the Help of a Friend. You may have a friend that lives over there for awhile now, that can give you information where to get the best deals or even arrange a good accommodation way better than you think.
- Couch surf. I just signed up to be a member of this couch surfing organization online on a free account recently, but I have been couch surfing friend’s couches every now and then. I ask my friends if maybe I could borrow a couch for a day or two when I visit their place or their place happen to be on the way where I’m heading to (which is great also for catching up if you haven’t seen each other in ages!). This is truly a money saver too, specially overseas.
Find more information about the place, the area, where you want to visit and when I say research, by all means! Ask your friends who have been there or currently living there, ask some experts in traveling, couch surf, use the internet, ask a local friend too. After getting all information, sort all the ones (you don’t believe everything you hear or read and for sure they’ll say varying information) that are only useful to you.