By: Courtney Hall, a first-year public relations student and avid traveller | Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Travel overnight and voilà, a night’s accommodation is taken care of!
Most first-time backpackers have an idea of what a hostel is like, and no, it’s not like the movie Hostel. Being a solo female traveller, staying in safe and social hostels were a must and essential for meeting new friends and feeling comfortable in my many homes-away-from-home. Most have big shared common areas like; a bar, living room, kitchen and all have their own unique layout and style. I once stayed in a hostel in Madrid that had marble fountains in every room for €15 a night. Hostel websites allow you to see photos, ratings and prices before booking. However, one lesson that I have learned is to track where the hostels are located; a safe area is critical, especially if you are travelling solo. Now, grab your phone and download the Hostelworld and Hostelbookers apps; they are absolute savours for on-the-go booking.
Not the type of surfing you were expecting on vacation? Couch surfing is one of my personal favourites. Not only do you get to choose who you stay with, but it’s free. I typically choose to stay with female hosts with a good rating and charm for hospitality. Simply; create a profile on Couchsurfing, and type in your destination and vacation dates, it’s much like booking a hotel or hostel. You will see personal profiles of hosts in whatever city you choose, and the hosts can see your profile. The key to couch surfing is that both parties are compatible and feel safe. The idea is that you feel as though you are calling up a friend and asking if you can crash on their couch. In addition to a place to sleep, most hosts will teach you the tips and tricks of their city while new friendships are instantly created. Some hosts may have their couch status as “Not available, (but I can hang out)” which is a great way make a new friend if your host is busy.
Introducing the modern day bed and breakfast! Airbnb can be a cheap sleep or a luxury stop-over. Unfortunately, as backpackers, we don’t get luxury. Here’s how it works: check out Airbnb. Much like Couchsurfing you will create a profile; making it safe for yourself and your host. The great thing about Airbnb is that you can choose to rent a private room in someone’s apartment rather than an ol’ couch. My favourite stays were with older folk who were interested in meeting new people and rented out their spare bedroom just for the fun of it. The hospitality was similar to staying in a bed and breakfast and yes, sometimes they will cook you breakfast. It felt like home for a moment, and a safe place to return to after a day of sightseeing.
If you’re a backpacker then you’re a camper. You’re practically prepared already; grab yourself a tent, a pack of matches and you’re set. Ok, maybe that’s exaggerated. But have you even tried to find accommodation in Germany for Oktoberfest? Germany is covered with great camp grounds. I found two friends with the camping essentials and we had a trip of a lifetime. The camp grounds were equipped with showers, taps with drinking water, and electrical outlets, all for €10 a night. Warning, this is not recommended for those that could melt in the rain.
Your next two questions should be; “What is my budget?” and “How adventurous am I?” Then re-read this post. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.