When I’m backpacking, I am of the belief that if you can find a cheaper place to stay you can extend a trip. Usually, that means staying in a hostel filled with other fun-loving, penny-pinching travelers. It’s like a vagabond rewards program where every few hostel stays earns you an additional day on the road. Even for all the benefits of staying in hostels, here are 5 times it’s worth booking a hotel instead.
1. Upon Arrival
The start of a long trip will make even the most seasoned traveler’s heart flutter with nerves and excitement. It’s also met with jet-lag, an overwhelming sense of self-responsibility, and a literal world of opportunities.
Ease yourself in and book a hotel for your first night or two. It gives you a chance to adjust to culture shock in private before embarking on your real adventure. It will also give you a chance to adapt to the new time zone and find your bearings without taking the full plunge into hostel-life. You’ll have plenty of time to find your travel-groove and connect with fellow travelers on the road.
If that weren’t enough, many hotels will even help you with airport transfers to alleviate one more pain point from trip planning.
2. When the Stay is the Experience
One of the joys of backpacking is the opportunity to see the world’s wonders. Talk to a traveler, and you’ll hear stories of visiting great places from the top of Machu Picchu to bottom of the Great Barrier Reef. Every now and then, however, a hotel can be the real destination. Check out these epic hotels, and you’ll see what I’m talking about – luxury igloos, open top star gazing, and cave hotels to name a few.
Like a guided expedition into the wilderness, a week-long yoga retreat, or a skydiving adventure, a hotel stay can be a treat all its own and can give you something to write home about. It may cost you a few nights of hostel budget, but, when you stay in a treefort, underwater, or at another destination-hotel, you’ll have an experience that lasts a lifetime.
3. It’s Actually Cheaper
Hostels, Couchsurfing, WWOOFing, AirBnB – they can all save you money. But, on occasion, staying in a hotel is actually a better deal.
When considering your options, look for last-minute hotel deals and other coupons at Hotels.com and other booking sites before making your final decision. Be sure to factor in things like free Internet, breakfast, toiletries, and other perks you may end up spending money on otherwise. Furthermore, you’ll want to join any rewards programs that allow you to earn free nights with each stay.
Of course, you’ll still want to consider your other options for booking an inexpensive stay online. Just don’t limit yourself by thinking hotels are always the most expensive place to stay. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite.
4. To Stay Safe
There have been a few times in places like Tegucigalpa, Honduras or Potosi, Bolivia where I arrived late at night clinging to my bags in fear I might be robbed in my hostel. Thankfully, it never happened. But, I certainly lost a few good nights of sleep over it. The constant in-and-out of travelers and unlocked dorm rooms of my hostels just left something to be desired. On occasion like these, it’s worth spending a little extra money for peace of mind (and security of stuff!) when traveling through a dangerous city.
5. Take a Break
Backpacking is a marathon and not a sprint, and it’s easy to get worn down. Maybe you’ve had enough of the person with whom you’re traveling. Maybe you want a hot shower. Maybe you just need a night in a real bed. It all add up and can put a damper on a great trip if you don’t treat your self occasionally. Think about the reason you’re feeling burned out – a hotel could be the answer to help get you reenergized and back on track.
Don’t let backpacker pride and the quest to be the ultimate cheapskate put you at risk of missing out on something special. Stay open to sleeping in a hotel on occasion, and you’ll add to the travel experience. After all, there are tons of ways to save on a backpacking trip and accommodations is just one of the expenses you’ll face while on the road.