Flights, accommodation and activities tend to be the biggest expenses when traveling. Securing value accommodation is often the easiest way of saving money.
When you are seeing the world a low cost agenda is paramount as not only does this allow you to travel for longer, but also take up opportunities that you might not be able to afford if you are paying for things unnecessarily. yet accommodation in itself can be an experience however and securing value accommodation of the luxury kind is also necessary on occasion. Again, cheap is not necessarily value!
A few good decisions when you are on the road can make all the difference and will often mean that research is necessary to save you time cash and hassle down the line.
Although today there are a few key ways to secure cheap accommodation. This ranges from free to being able to experience something that you might not otherwise have considered or tried. Fancy a luxury 5* resort at a fraction of the price or to be working in the jungle? Anything is possible you just need to know where to look and what to do to secure the best value accommodation with the best experiences.
Negotiation when you have time and choice:
This is the most basic. Make sure that you bargain on all accommodation as more often than not the price on what is a service is never fixed. The main rule of engagement is the amount of accommodation available and how desperate or needy you are. In short the supply and demand concept.
If you rock up in a village with one hotel at 2am and they have just one room left I don’t think anyone would be surprised that the full price (at the very least) would be charged and no negotiation would be fruitful. Yet down a hotel laden road in the offseason down a non-touristic site in a flea pit hotel that is empty?… you hold all the cards!
First check around where you are staying for a few prices and ask for their “lowest price”. Don’t spend too much time bargaining, but after a few return to the one you liked best and tell them that the place down the road charged half of what they were asking (if you think that is reasonable). Let negotiations commence!
If it is off season tell them that the price should be 30% lower. If you are staying for a longer period of time tell them as this helps. Let them know you have experience of the prices in the local area so they know you will not be taken for a ride. Take your time, as if you look rushed then they will play harder to get. After all the receptionists often have little to do except partake in these negotiations.
Don’t force people into losing money. Be fair, but make sure you get a good deal.
Remember: The person prepared to lose it all will often gain it all.
This is not a particularly new idea and WWOOFing (working on organic farms) has become a worldwide phenomenon. Hoever some businesses are charging for what they are calling an “experience”. WWOOF charge per country for access to their massive database, while Global Volunteer Network charges around $20 per day!
In addition to this many wildlife/ save the planet type of organisations are now touting “eco-voluntourism” projects that charge an incredible amount of money to support the cause as well as take your time. We have heard on a few occasions from people we met traveling who were approached for such projects and asked for hundreds of pounds up front. This to be sounds like cashing in on people’s good nature and the eco movement.
I am all for experiences yet if I am working somewhere I firmly believe that I am helping out, so this is what I am bringing to the situation and in fairness I work hard, as otherwise it all seems a bit pointless. To have to pay to work however… well there is just no way.
Helpex.net is the website we used to find our projects and we believe this was the best part of our travel experiences. Even better is that it is a fairly basic website that charges just £25 a year to access people’s contact information We made sure that we found places that could accommodate us at the very least, which would help us keep costs down, not cost the owners anything (since they already owned the hosue) and we would learn something while helping others out. A win-win on two counts.
We worked on a cacau plantation in the Brazilian jungle (the smile says it all and it is no wonder we extended our stay to 2 1/2 months!), worked on a mango farm in India, helped start a permaculture school in Fiji and built a toilet block in the northern jungle of Laos, helped a Swiss family build a treehouse resort in Argentina. Each of these experiences were magical. Sure we got lucky and not all are as good as they are cracked up to be. Working on a ranch in Argentina was top of our “want to do list”. Yet again these guys are starting to charge as everyone wants to work with horses on the plains of Argentina like a true Gaucho! Yet in reality this is busting work, long days and you are not spared an easy life. If you came to work, you have to work!
Aggregator and Coupon sites:
Last minute.com Booking.com and others are of course also well known. They provide room buy up services to ensure that hotels are filled and often attract lower rates than usual. They also offer security that you have reserved your place and convenience of purchasing a room, while easily being able to compare a massive number of options based on your criteria.
These websites are ok and have clear benefits, but the next generation are here- the voucher sites like Groupon.
Deals 52 http://www.deals52.com is an example of a newer voucher site that has a lot of hotel stays, minibreaks etc. Some voucher sites focus on shopping items whereas if you are looking for a place to visit you might want to checkout Deals52 for hotel deals around the world including the UK.
I have booked a few stays away with this kind of provider however and have noticed that the more established voucher sites are better at manipulating the prices to make it look like a good deal when it is not. As such make sure you check the hotel’s rates to see how good a deal it is really.
The benefit of Deal52 and others voucher sites is that it provides a range of options that you are unlikely have considered before. Obviously not ideal for remote locations, but in Hong Kong we decided to upgrade for a night to experience the high life of Hong Kong accommodation as well as the low end. Using one of these sites was ideal and makes you feel like you are accessing another world at a bargain price. In particular if you are looking for a break for you and your partner for a few days voucher sites are ideal.