How to Find Amazing and Affordable Accommodations While Traveling Solo
What’s more, my body just isn’t as flexible as it once was so climbing in and out of bunk beds is slow and painful. I feel sometimes like a big old elephant.
Finally, after a long day of sightseeing, I just need my privacy and space.
I can do dorm rooms once a while, but I can’t spend a whole vacation moving from one to another.
For some places like Vietnam it’s easier to find an affordable hotel room than in others like Japan or Singapore, where staying in hostels is unavoidable. But solo travelers don’t need to stay in them all the time on a trip. There are many ways to minimize hostel stays and maximize hotels or Airbnbs. Here are 5 things that I do to be able to ditch dorm life and instead grab accommodations that are both affordable and amazing while traveling solo:
Solo Travel Tip #1: Look at the Big Picture
Let me give you an example by showing you what I did when I traveled through Japan this August. Since Japan is a lot more on the expensive side than in other countries in Asia, I couldn’t afford to stay in hotels throughout the whole trip. I had to stay in a dorm room at times. I traveled throughout Japan for 18 days making 7 stops along the way.
Destination #2: Takayama
Rickshaw Inn: ♦ US$65/night x 2 nights = $130
Destination #3: Kanazawa
Dorm at The Share Hotels Hatchi: ♦ US$25/night x 3 nights = $75
Destination #4: Matsumoto
Capsule at Hotel M at Matsumoto: ♦ US$50/night x 1 night = $50
Destination #5: Kyoto
Hotel Resol Kawaramachi Sanjo: ♦ US$75/night x 5 nights = $375
Destination #6: Hiroshima
K’s Hostel: ♦ US$25/night x 1 night = $25
Unlike, my other two hostels in Tokyo and Kanazawa, there was no privacy curtain. It was an old-fashioned dorm room with bunk beds. Not having privacy curtain made it much easier to meet people than at the other hostels. The other hostels may have been nicer, but they were also quite isolating. You could easily avoid talking to people by closing your curtain. At K’s, I made friends with another traveler and we spent the evening eating okonoyimaki, traditional Hiroshima food.
K’s Hostel also had lots of travel information and activities for travelers.
Destination #7: Hakone
Fukuzumiro Ryokan: ♦ US$200/night x 1 night = $200
Destination #8: Tokyo
Tokyu Stay Tsukiji: ♦ US$125/night x 1 night = $125
It had what I considered one of the most unique but useful appliances in a hotel room I’d ever seen: a washing machine and dryer.
Tokyo: $35 x 4 = $140
Takeyama: $65 x 2 = $130
Kanazawa: $25 x 3 = $75
Matsumoto: $50 x 1 – $50
Kyoto: $75 x 5 = $375
Hiroshima: $25 x 1 = $25
Hakone: $200 x 1 = $200
Tokyo: $125 x 1 = $125
Total: $1,120 / 18 nights = $62.22 / night
Now if I had stayed in only hostels, my average daily budget would of course have been lower, but I didn’t want to do hostels every night during my 18-day trip.
Solo Travel Tip #2. Be strategic about where you splurge and where you save
It’s not possible to afford a hotel room in every location. Sometimes you’ll have to stay in a hostel. For example, it’s pretty hard to find a decent hotel in a good location for a price lower than $150 in Singapore. Then I’ll probably stay in a hostel in Singapore. But in Kyoto, you can find something nice for less than $100.
Solo Travel Tip #3 Choose your time wisely
Ok the next piece of advice doesn’t work in every location. It does work in places where wealthier people from big cities like Tokyo or San Francisco or New York visit on the weekends or that are popular with tourists in the summer.
For example, when I visited Big Sur in California, which is a favorite place for people from San Francisco to visit on the weekend, I had two options: camping or paying an arm and a leg for a hotel. I found that most places were around $200 a night. That is, until I booked on the weekday during the non-busy season and one or two days before I wanted to stay there. Then prices dropped on some hotels to around $120 a night. That’s still expensive, but I really didn’t have much of a choice if wanted to stay overnight in Big Sur. Prices for rooms that are not sold drop significantly 1 to 2 days beforehand. This is the only option for a solo traveler who doesn’t have a lot of money and doesn’t want to camp alone.