For the most part, the type of accommodation I mention on this site is usually hostels, which would make sense considering that over the years, this is exactly the kind of budget accommodation that I have preferred.
However, that does not mean that it is the only type of accommodation I use and these days, I actually find myself using hostels less and less. Don’t get me wrong though. I think hostels are an absolutely ideal option and without them, a significant portion of the travelers out there in the world simply would not have been able to afford their lengthy adventures, myself included.
It’s hard to beat the cheap bed in a social setting that such hostels can offer.
With that said, at some point during your travels there will undoubtedly be a moment, or several moments, when you really wish you were staying somewhere else, maybe at a hotel. You start to crave a large room just for you (or just for you and your friend/travel companion). You want a private bathroom. You want to step away from all of the interacting with other travelers for a while.
And a hotel accomplishes all of this, except for the fact that they are typically more expensive than a hostel, which is not an insignificant factor when you’re traveling on a budget. So, unwilling to spend so much money, our dreams of a hotel room all to ourselves often remain just that, dreams.
You Can Afford a Hotel Room
When I first started traveling, I remember meeting experienced travelers who would always tell me that it’s a good idea to splurge on a nice hotel room every now and then in order to maintain my sanity. However, I never did that, instead choosing to stay in hostels everywhere I went for years on end. I just didn’t want to spend money that I didn’t need to spend and always preferred to keep that extra cash and use it for something more important to me.
It was not until about five years ago when I realized that staying at a good hotel did not actually require me to splurge at all and that, many times, it would cost just a few more dollars than I was spending for a dorm room at a hostel. And while this is not the case all over the world, it is true for many countries, even some surprising ones.
On my current trip around the Baltic region of Europe, for example, I have so far visited two countries, Latvia and Estonia, and in each, I ended up staying at a hotel.
Now these were not the fanciest of hotels by any means, but they were not run-down, bug-infested establishments either. In each case I had a nice spacious room, my own bathroom, a large buffet breakfast included, views of the city from my windows and a mattress that made it remarkably easy to sleep well at night.
And I received all of this for what I would consider very reasonable and non-bank breaking prices. In Riga, Latvia, I stayed at the wonderful 3-star Hanza Hotel for 40 Euros per night and in Tallinn, Estonia, at the convenient City Hotel Portus which offers rooms for 29 Euros per night.
The other thing to consider is that, while I was traveling alone in these two countries, if you’re traveling with someone else and you split that cost, it really is just a fraction more expensive than a hostel. In Riga, the average price for a dorm bed in the five most highly rated hostels on Hostelbookers.com is 14 Euros per person per night. That’s 28 Euros for two people, a mere 12 Euros cheaper than a well-appointed, proper hotel room.
So, because hotels are much more affordable than I once thought, do I now stay in hotels all the time? Not at all, and in fact, I’m quite looking forward to the hostels I’m about to stay at during my visit to Finland. (I’m actually writing this post from the M/S Star, the Silja Lines ferry that is taking me from Tallinn, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland this morning.)
I do still prefer the hostel atmosphere much of the time and if I don’t feel the need for my own hotel room, I figure that I might as well save a few dollars each night.
The only difference is that now that I’ve traveled for quite some time, I do agree with all of those experienced travelers I met during my younger years. An occasional splurge is indeed important for a traveler’s sanity. It does help reduce the risk of getting burnt out by the constant moving around from hostel dorm room to hostel dorm room when you sometimes just need a break and want your own space.
And when a splurge doesn’t actually require you to empty your bank account and proves to be just a little more expensive than you’re used to spending for accommodation each night, there’s no reason at all to avoid the occasional therapeutic stay at a nice hotel.
I certainly wish I had realized this myself when I first started traveling.
Do you “splurge” every now and then? Have you considered staying at hotels on your travels?