A Guide to 5 Popular Types of Cheap Accomodation

When organising your first international trip, finding the perfect accomodation is one of the first things you’ll need to do. There are some travelers who choose comfort over cost, and vice versa. Above all, however, most travelers opt for cheap accomodation. There are a few different options to consider when deciding on your travel accomodation. Your decision should be based on your preferences when it comes to privacy, safety, budget, proximity to city centres and places of interest and finally, the amount of people you are traveling with.

Choosing the right accomodation can be a bit difficult if you are a first time traveler. So to help you out and make this process as easy as possible, I’ve written this guide with the pros and cons, for five of the most popular types of cheap accomodation.

A Guide to 5 Popular Types of Cheap Accomodation

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Cheap Accomodation #1: Hotels

Hotels are our accomodation of choice. We’re happy to spend a bit of extra money on a decent hotel, mainly because we value comfort and privacy when traveling. There are a seemingly endless amount of hotels in all shapes and sizes, almost everywhere in the world. From one star budget friendly hotels, to high class ultra luxurious hotels and everything in between. There’s something for everyone, and if you decide to go for a hotel, you will very rarely struggle to find one.

That being said, hotels aren’t necessarily the perfect choice for everyone. So here are some pros and cons for hotels, to help you make your decision:

Pros of Hotels

Privacy – If privacy is something that you value while traveling, hotels are probably the best option. You will have your own room and bathroom, and unless you’re stuck next to a loud group of travelers, hotels are the more peaceful option.

Comfort – Most average to middle of the range hotels will be fairly decent when it comes to comfort. That being said, the level of comfort and cleanliness you get, varies greatly on the amount of money you spend. Obviously, if you choose a hotel that costs $500 per night, it is going to be in better condition than one which costs $50 per night.

Convenience – If you are looking to spend a few days near a popular tourist attraction or destination, it will be pretty easy finding a hotel that is conveniently located. The only downside with choosing a convenient hotel location, can sometimes be the cost.

Hotel Facilities and Services – One of the best things about staying in a hotel, are the facilities and services that generally come complimentary. You will have convenient access to perks such as room service, laundry service, a pool and sauna, gym and a restaurant or two.

24/7 Reception – Most hotels have reception staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is convenient if your flight doesn’t arrive until early in the morning or late at night, giving you the option to check in outside of regular hours. Please note that not all hotels have 24/7 reception, so be sure to check when booking if that’s something you would prefer.

Cons of Hotels

Hotels can be Expensive – If you are trying to budget as little as possible for accomodation, hotels probably aren’t the best option. Depending on the location, hotels can get pricey. Upscale areas in expensive cities such as New York, are going to be a lot more expensive than a fewer star hotel in a less central location. If you still want to stay in a hotel but do not want to price tag, set your search to the outskirts of expensive cities, as these areas will normally be cheaper.

Hotels aren’t the best option for Long-Term Stay – If you plan to remain in a particular city for an extended period of time, hotels can become quite expensive. For long term stays, there are far better options when it comes to accomodation. Keep reading to learn more!

Hotels: Conclusion

Hotels are perfect for short term stays. For budget travelers who would prefer to stay in hotels, start your search further away from city centres and major tourist attractions. Hotels are great for convenience and privacy, but not so much for budget friendly, cheap accomodation.

Cheap Accomodation #2: Hostels

I’ve never stayed in a hostel, and honestly, I don’t have any desire to. That’s mainly due to the fact that both Russell and I like our privacy while traveling. We like to be in our own little bubble, especially after a long day of exploring. Winding down with some local TV, a glass of wine and sharing memories from the day, is most enjoyable in the comfort of our private hotel room.

That being said, there are travelers who swear by hostels for both domestic and international travel. Hostels are generally marketed towards backpackers, but anyone can stay in them so don’t let that deter you. When booking a hostel, you’re booking a bed as opposed to a room. That means there are a few different options: private dorms, mixed dorms and female only dorms. Generally dorm sizes will range between four beds, all the way up to twenty beds. You’ll be given this option when booking.

Pros of Hostels

Hostels are Super Budget Friendly – Hotels are probably going to be one of the most convenient, cheap accomodation choices in this post. Other than free camping sites (which we will get to soon), hostels can be incredibly budget friendly per night, and allow travelers to float around as freely and conveniently as possible. In most countries, you can find a four to eight bedroom dorm for less than $30 per night.

Great for the Social Aspect of Traveling – Hostels are great if you’re traveling solo, or even with a group of friends. Since you’re sharing a room with multiple other people, you’re kind of forced to be social and interact with the people around you. If you’re traveling solo, this gives you a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends from all over the world.

Hostels are (almost) Everywhere – Hostels are pretty common in most places around the world. Depending on the location, they will vary in price, comfort and cleanliness. But overall, hostels are pretty easy to find.

They’re Generally in good, Central Locations – Given that hostels are meant to be an easy, cheap and convenient type of accomodation, you’ll find that there are quite a few spread out across most major cities. You’ll more than likely be in close proximity to public transport and a good selection of food choices. But again, do your research on the area before booking any sort of cheap accomodation.

Cons of Hostels

You won’t have much Privacy – Hotels aren’t the best option if you like your privacy while traveling. Unless you’re lucky enough to book a private dorm, you’ll more than likely be in a room with up to twenty other people. Most of which, you have never met before. This could lead to some pretty awkward situations, especially in mixed dorms. Be sure to consider this if you’re planning to book a hostel.

You’ll have to share a Bathroom – Most hostels generally have a communal bathroom, which you will have to share with a dozen or more people. Very few hostels have private bathrooms, so you will need to compromise. Make life a little bit easier if you are forced to use a shared bathroom, by purchasing a hanging toiletry bag.

High risk of Theft – Given that you’ll be sharing the same space with other people, the risk of theft is much higher than that of a hotel room. Especially if your dorm doesn’t have a safe or locker available. Make sure you bring along your own high quality luggage lock, to keep your personal belongings safe while you’re out and about.

Hostels can be unclean and may have a higher chance of bed bugs – I’ve read horror stories about hostels from around the world, having bed bug issues. Bed bugs are huge annoyances and as soon as they come into contact with your luggage, you’re basically screwed. If you decide to stay in hostels while traveling, make it a habit of checking underneath and between sheets before you do anything else. That way, if you do notice a bed bug problem, you can leave immediately and lower the risk of your belongings coming into contact with them.

Tips for Staying in Hostels

Bring your own Toiletries – From what I can gather, hostels don’t generally provide toiletries, at least not complimentary ones. So be sure to bring your own to avoid any awkward or inconvenient situations. Check the hostel’s website before you arrive, to find out if they do provide any amenities such as toiletries or bedding.

Wear Thongs in the Shower – Regardless of whether you are traveling during summer, be sure to pack your own pair of things (or flip flops) to wear in the shower, and that you don’t mind throwing away at the end of your trip. Hostels and the showers in them have been used by a ton of people in the same 24 hour period that you plan to use it. For your own personal hygiene, it’s always best to wear flip flops while showering.

Bring Ear Plugs and a Sleeping Mask – Hostel dorms can and will be loud, a lot of the time. If your dorm mates are coming home in the early hours of the morning from a late night out, you will want something to drown out the light and the noise. Although it’s common practice for travelers staying in hotels to be considerate of others in the dorm, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. It’s best to come prepared with some ear plugs and a sleeping mask, just incase you are stuck with a less thank respectful dorm buddy.

Purchase a High Quality Luggage Lock – As I mentioned earlier, hostels are prone to theft. Given that you are sharing a dorm with multiple people, most of which you haven’t met before, you should never assume that your belongings are safe. Purchase a good quality, secure luggage lock before you arrive. That way you will know your personal items are safe, even if you spend all day exploring the city.

Hostels: Conclusion

Hostels aren’t for everyone. If a good amount of privacy, safety, security and cleanliness is important to you while traveling, I suggest choosing another form of cheap accomodation. If you are all about the social aspect, budget friendly and convenience of travel, find some well-rated hostels in the area you are visiting.

Cheap Accomodation #3: Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the more recent types of cheap accomodation. Airbnb’s are good for a few different types of travelers: groups of friends, couples, travelers who don’t like to socialise or people who simply prefer a more private style of cheap accomodation. This type of accomodation isn’t for everyone, but can be great for travelers who hope to have a little bit of freedom and a more home-like feel, as opposed to that of a hotel or hostel.

Airbnb works with hostels (or owners) essentially renting out their own property for a certain period of time. This accomodation can be a single room, apartment, group of rooms, houseboats or even entire houses. As a traveler, you can search for the destination you will be visiting, the length of time you play to stay, the style of room you would prefer and your price range, then Airbnb will list some available accomodation for you.

Pros of Airbnb

Can Help to Save Money – Depending on the type of accomodation that you rent, you could be potentially saving a good chunk of money. Airbnb’s are generally cheaper than hotels, but be sure to do some research and compare beforehand, to see which option suits you.

Access to a Kitchen and Cooking Essentials – This is another great way to save money while traveling. Booking a room or even an entire house through Airbnb, will more than likely mean you will have access to a kitchen or some sort. In some cases you may have to share the kitchen with the owner, so check the host’s guidelines before booking if this is important to you. But being able to cook some meals will save a ton on food, as you won’t be eating out all the time.

Comfort and a Home-Like Feel – Given that generally with Airbnb you’re staying in someone’s house, it will probably feel more comfortable and ‘home-like’ than if you were to stay in a hotel.

Great for a Group of People – Whether you’re traveling with a group of friends or your extended family, Airbnb accomodation could be the perfect choice. Most are large enough for a group of people, and are even marketed towards this kind of traveler. Airbnb is also great for couples, as it gives that extra bit of freedom, privacy and independence that a hotel or hostel doesn’t.

Cons of Airbnb

Airbnb Hosts can Sometimes be Sketchy – By this I mean the lack of communication, cancelled stays, non-refunded money and similar issues like that. I’ve read quite a few stories released over the past year or so, with people sharing their less than wonderful Airbnb experiences. Be sure to read the reviews about your potential host before making a booking.

Lack of Privacy – This is generally the case whether you’re a host or a guest. If you choose to simply rent out a room instead of an entire house, you’ll more than likely have to interact with the host or owner of the house. If you would prefer full privacy, narrow down your Airbnb search to renting out a house instead of just a room.

Airbnb: Conclusion

Airbnb is a great option for groups of friends or couples who don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of privacy. You’ll get a very homely feel in return, and with convenient access to a kitchen, you can save big on the food budget. Make sure to read all reviews about your host before making a booking.

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Cheap Accomodation #4: Camping Sites

Camping sites come in all shapes and sizes. In very road-trip heavy countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, there are ample camping sites to satisfy even the pickiest camper. Most of the popular road-trip countries will have a good amount of both free and paid camping sites, allowing you to have the full experience.

Pros of Camping Sites

Great for Budget Travelers – Since camping sites can simply be a patch of dirt in the middle of no where, they come pretty cheap these days. Of course you will have the option of a powered site, but if you are trying to stick with a cheap budget, free camping sites (patches of dirt) are your best bet.

Opportunity to Camp at Beautiful Locations – The best thing about camping, is that you can sleep literally almost anywhere. There are some great apps available that list all camping grounds nearby, whether or not they’re free and what amenities they have. But if you do a little bit of further research, you can come across some incredible locations, some even for free.

Sunsets and Sunsets – Need I say more? Camping at beautiful locations like the ocean and national parks, means you’ll be able to enjoy sunrises and sunsets from the best possible places. Totally worth the bug bites!

Cons of Camping Sites

Bug Bites and Sleeping Outside – If you aren’t a fan of sleeping in a tent on the ground, I highly suggest renting a camper van or an RV. Otherwise prepare to be eaten alive by bugs, and have one of the worst sleeps of your life.

Middle of the Night Toilet Runs – If you don’t have a camper van or RV with toilet facilities, you’ll have to leave your tent for those middle of the night toilet runs. This isn’t very idea during the middle of winter.

Camping sites: Conclusion

If you love the great outdoors, getting close to nature and want budget friendly accomodation, check out the camping sites at your destination. Be prepared and take some bug spray, though. You’ll thank me later.

Cheap Accomodation #5: Holiday Parks & Caravan Parks

Holiday Parks (or Caravan Parks) are essentially a fancier way of camping. They’re normally made for people who have an RV or camper van, although some do have cabins and rooms available for a nightly fee. Holiday parks are very kid friendly, and most will have playgrounds, swimming pools and a ton of other outdoor activities for kids (and adults) to enjoy.

Note: If you’re planning to stay in a caravan park during the peak and busy times of year, I suggest booking pretty far in advance. This is especially important if you’re heading to a popular tourist destination.

Pros of Holiday Parks & Caravan Parks

More Comfortable Accomodation – Compared to camping in the middle of no where on a patch of dirt, caravan parks are a great, more comfortable option. Depending on the location, you can generally find pretty decent caravan or holiday parks starting at just $20 per night.

Great Fun for Kids – As I mentioned, holiday parks are perfect to keep kids occupied throughout the day. I’ve been to a couple of holiday parks that have swimming pools, playgrounds and even giant trampolines.

Some Holiday parks are Pet Friendly – Some caravan parks and holiday parks allow pets to tag along. Not all do, however, so if this is something you’re interested in, be sure to check before booking. You could also do a Google search for the holiday or caravan parks that do allow pets, and book your stay around that.

Perfect for a Barbecue – Holiday parks generally have tons of barbecue’s available for guests to use. You’ll obviously need to provide your own cutlery, food and the like, but it’s a great way to socialise and have some fun with family and friends!

Cons of Holiday Parks & Caravan Parks

Shared Bathrooms and Showers – Unless your RV or camper van has an inbuilt toilet and shower, you’ll have to use the shared holiday park facilities. I recommend bringing some sanitary wipes, because not everyone’s cleanliness standards will be as high as yours. This is also a situation where hanging toiletry bags come in handy.

Some Nights may get Noisy – Depending on the place you’re staying and the time of year, holiday parks can get pretty busy. Especially during long weekends and special occasions. Prepare to be stuck with loud and partying caravan neighbours, if you choose to stay during peak times during the year.

Not Ideal for Extended Stays – If you prefer to have the comfort of an actual home or even hotel room while traveling, holiday and caravan parks may not be the right fit for you. It can be frustrating having to share facilities with strangers for extended periods of time, so keep that in mind before booking your stay.

Holiday Parks & Caravan Parks: Conclusion

Holiday parks are great for families and groups of friends, as they’re a cheap, less uncomfortable version of camping. Bring along some food, cooking supplies and utensils, to make the most of the included, shared barbecues. If you’re looking to bring your pet along for the ride, call the holiday park before booking and ask if they’re pet friendly!

So there you have it! The 5 main types of travel accomodation. What’s your favourite type of cheap accomodation? Do you prefer hostels over hotels? Holiday parks over camping sites? Tell me in the comments below! 

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A Guide to 5 Popular Types of Cheap Accomodation | Rhiannon Travels Cheap Accomodation: 5 Common Types & What's Right For You

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!



  1. August 13, 2017 / 11:01 am

    Great idea to share your perspective on different accommodation types when travelling. I enjoy staying in hotels and airbnbs but hostels are a great option too if you’re travelling long-term on a budget. I usually stay in private hostel rooms with a private bathroom 🙂

    • August 14, 2017 / 5:16 pm

      I think everyone is different when it comes to accomodation options, but hostels are definitely the best option for long term travelers! Thanks for reading, Sandy 🙂

  2. August 13, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Great round-up of the pros & cons! Hotels too will be my top choice especially when travelling solo. I have yet to try the last 2 in your list, definitely hope to try them while I’m still healthy and fit!

    • August 14, 2017 / 5:11 pm

      Thanks for reading, Kristine! Hotels are a great option, especially for solo and/or first time travelers 🙂

  3. August 13, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Great description of the options! My teen and I usually use airbnb or we car camp in truck stops or Walmarts. We also housesit often, which is a great was to get private and quality accommodation for cheap!

    • August 14, 2017 / 5:10 pm

      I love that you camp in Walmarts! lol! Housesitting is also a great option! I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve heard of people who have and they’ve had good things to say. Thanks for reading, Amanda! 🙂

  4. August 14, 2017 / 1:28 am

    For folks who like the traveler resources hostels offer but don’t want to share rooms/bathrooms — many hostels have very nice private rooms that are much cheaper than hotels (in the US they can be closer to $80 a night, but in much of the world they’re more like $15 a night). And after staying in hundreds of hostels, I’ve only ever encountered one that didn’t have 24-hour staff — it’s easy to check that when booking and avoid ones that don’t have it.

    • August 14, 2017 / 5:07 pm

      That’s great advice! Like I mentioned in the post, I’m not too familiar with hostels. So thanks for sharing this tip! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Carrie!

  5. August 14, 2017 / 6:04 am

    Really well done rundown of all the best options for cheaper accommodations! I have mostly used hotels, Airbnbs and hostels thus far myself!

    • August 14, 2017 / 5:02 pm

      Thanks Sierra! It’s good to know your options before booking accomodation, especially for first time travelers! 🙂

  6. August 14, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    I just watched this clip on CollegeHumor the other day (Adam ruins everything?? something like that) about Airbnb and how it may not follow safety regulations and gets away with not following certain laws that are normally applied to hotels/hostels etc! Bummer because I use Airbnb a lot!

  7. August 15, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Airbnb is by far my FAV of all time! I am obsessed and think it’s such a great way to experience a city! I’m heading to Europe soon on a super tight budget, so I’m interested to see what the Hostels are like 🙂 Great post!

  8. August 16, 2017 / 3:05 am

    Thanks for such a comprehensive list of cheap accommodations – I often am overwhelmed in trying to picking where to stay that’s affordable and right for me (and in the context of that specific trip). I love your list of pros and cons here!

    • August 19, 2017 / 6:56 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Caroline! It can be hard trying to choose the right type of accomodation. Especially if you’re unsure of the options. 🙂

  9. September 13, 2017 / 12:28 am

    Great article, I’m glad you mentioned checking to see if bringing a pet is an option at Caravan parks. My family and I want to stay at one next summer for an extended amount of time, but we have two dogs and I want to make sure that they can come as well. I really like the idea of a caravan park because we love nature and the ones we’ve been looking into have great accommodations for kids.

    • September 13, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      Caravan parks are a great option for families! Tons of space and freedom, plus the perk of being outdoors! Definitely check to find some pet friendly parks in the area you’re staying. I’m sure there are lots! Thanks for reading 🙂

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