Hostel or Notsel?

Where should I stay when backpacking?

In days gone by, this was not too much of a quandry for backpackers around the globe. Budget travel needs, by definition, budget accommodation and up until the last decade the main types of accommodation favoured by many backpackers have been campsites, caravans/campervans and of course, good old youth hostels.

camping pic
thank you https://kathleneskitchen.wordpress.com/tag/drinking/

But things have changed…HUZZAH!!

Now, as I am about to set off for my first ever backpacking trip I find that there are so many more options available, which is very exciting! Please don’t get me wrong, I am sure that I will use all of the above accommodation on my trip but lets be honest, it’s nice to have other options and to be able make a switcheroo every now and again. This is particularly true when it will cost you the same amount of money, or perhaps even less…gasp!

I have booked into a youth hostel for the first week that I will be in Perth (thank you TripAdvisor for your trusty reviews) but I have also been looking at other accommodation options for whilst I’m out in Australia. There were two companies I came across that I had never even heard of before I started doing a little bit of research and digging, so I thought I would share them with you also.

 

Airbnb

airbnb logo

I had no idea what Airbnb was when I stumbled across it. In very simple terms it is a community that you can join, to either advertise rooms in a property that you are renting out, or to book a room to stay in whilst you’re away. Airbnb spans 190 countries, so it is well worth checking out for your destination. You are able to type in your search criteria stating the area, price range, number of guests etc. and Airbnb will bring up a range of options and show you the accommodation location on a map. The hosts (as most are spare rooms in someone’s house) will have written about what you can expect during your stay e.g. a double bed with linen, use of the common area, free WiFi and access to the washing machine and washing powder! There are also whole properties available for rental, also at a fair price. You can see how Airbnb describe themselves here.

Searching on Airbnb I found a lovely property in Central Perth which is only a short walk into the CBD and would suit my needs perfectly. It has all the facilities I could possibly need and even allows access to the vegetable patch! The hosts sound very nice and the reviews are good, which I think is extremely important to check if you are staying in someone else’s home (particularly if you are on your own).

Just to give you an idea of the price difference and how using sites like Airbnb can actually be cheaper than hostels, I’m going to use the prices given for the above property and then compare them to the price (for the same 4 nights) at the hostel that I will be staying in the first week.

 

Hostel facilities:
  • Single bunk bed in 4 person female only dorm, with use of a shared bathroom (not ensuite)
  • Use of the commercial kitchen to cook and store your food and drink (access until 10pm)
  • Common area with computers
  • Free WiFi (although I’ve heard stories of how slow and ropey hostel WiFi is)
  • Laundry room with washers and driers- can be used for an extra fee
  • Hostel courtyard to socialise in with BBQ access
  • Bed Linen (not towel)
  • Free car parking (6 spaces at back of hostel, first come first served)

Cost for 1 person for 4x nights = £67.71 or $132 AUD

 

Airbnb room
  • Own bedroom with double bed and lockable door
  • Car parking space and access to old bikes for guest use
  • Basketball ring
  • Vegetable patch
  • Free WiFi and utilities (included in price)
  • Use of the kitchen and dining area
  • TV
  • Use of washing facilities and essentials…linen etc.
  • Choice of 2 bathrooms

Cost for 1 person for 4x nights= £119 or $232 AUD

 

Looking at these figures it’s obvious that it is cheaper to stay in the hostel, in fact it will cost you £51.29 or £100 AUD less to do so.

BUT…..and here’s the thing. The Airbnb room is set up to be suitable for two people….yes two people at no extra cost! So if you are travelling with your partner, a friend…or heck, if you meet someone in a hostel that you just get on with really well, this will be the cheaper option. If we split the cost between two people it comes to:

£59.50 or $116 AUD per person for 4x nights accommodation. That is only £14.87 or $29 AUD per person, per night.

This means that when split between two people it would be £8.21 cheaper per person to stay in the Airbnb room than the hostel. Not only cheaper, but you would also have more privacy, space, better facilities and save on things like paying extra for washing your clothes!

BARGAIN!

 

Couchsurfing

couchsurfing logo

One of my previous housemates told me about couchsurfing and I have to say that when she was asking about whether we could become hosts I was a bit horrified. Partly because it just sounds pretty dangerous to let a stranger into your home, someone you have never met before. We were four girls in a house and it was a very small shared living space, practicality wise we agreed it just wasn’t suitable (safety aside).

Fast forward a few years and I am now actually contemplating using couch surfing whilst out in Australia. I am so torn on this one; on one hand I have all the safety warnings that have been drilled into us since birth reverberating around my skull, and on the other hand I’m thinking that it is free accommodation and could allow me to travel for longer (especially whilst initially looking for work). I also can’t help but think that it is a sad world when we are unable to believe that someone is trust worthy enough to let us into their home for nothing, without a prior agenda. Perhaps they like meeting people from around the world, maybe they’re lonely, maybe they want to learn a new language, or they just like doing good things for others or making new friends. It makes me very angry at myself that I am so suspicious of ulterior motives, sigh,  but I guess you can’t be cautious if you’re dead.

 

Anyway, lets go to the facts.

Couchsurfing is again an online community that you register with, this time to either offer someone free accommodation, or to look for a couple of nights free accommodation. You can look at the host’s place, where it is etc. and contact them to ask if they will let you stay on the dates requested.

The pro’s are obvious: FREE accommodation and sometimes the odd meal, a local person to give you information on the area and to find out more about the local culture, more privacy than a dorm room (possibly), and often you will be asked if you want to socialise with the host and their friends.

 

The cons: Safety.

There are a lot of hosts who (I am told) can be looked upon more favourably if they are verified on the website (will show in their profile) and if they have good reviews. If you decide couch surfing is for you, then those are the two things you need to look out for.

Personally I’m not sure yet whether I will do any couch surfing. I am definitely going to register before I go out to Oz and look at possible places and hosts, but I think I want to speak to other backpackers in the area about it first. See how they found couch surfing in Perth and whether they would recommend it. I think it’s something I’m more likely to do if my friend is with me, than alone and I will also be sure to let someone know where I am going and the address etc. in case of any problems.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of available/possible accommodation but I thought that as I had never heard of these companies until recently that there must be others out there who possibly don’t know of their existence. You also have options of renting an apartment/house with others through gumtree or an agent, or even living in the hostel for free if you are working there, so many choices! I think its good to have lots of options when you are travelling and I believe personally that I will have a better overall experience if I move between different types of accommodation that I feel comfortable with.

Money isn’t the only issue when deciding where to stay (although I realise I have significantly focused on cost in this post). It depends on the facilities you want and the atmosphere. You may want to be at a party hostel for a few weeks but after finding a job decide that you need something a little quieter with more personal space, if you have early morning starts. Perhaps you need to be closer to a different area so you can use public transport to get to work.

As someone who likes to plan and is generally pretty organised when it comes to accommodation I find the I am having to do my “research”, book the basics and then breathe and let go. I need to allow myself to be flexible about where I will stay. I don’t want to miss out on an awesome opportunity because I’ve pre-booked something somewhere for the next month solid! Travel is dynamic. It is an ever changing experience, along with the destinations you see and the people you meet. The whole process of travelling is about fluidity and not being rooted to one spot. Try to not let this happen when looking at accommodation. If you are a serial planner and organiser like me, try to follow in my footsteps, take a deep breath and go with the flow! After all, we go travelling to learn about ourselves as well as our destinations and we will learn much more when outside of our comfort zones.

life begins
thank you Pintrest!

 

Safe travels, love Hannah x

(I am not affiliated with any of the above companies at the time of writing this post)

 

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About The Author

Hannah

Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!

Where I can be found: UK

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