Eight ways to save money when flashpacking: accommodation

The good news is that a little goes a long way in South East Asia. Accommodation is a steal compared to prices in Europe and America, and you can sleep in relative luxury for as little as £20/night.
You can, of course, find dirt cheap accommodation. A bed in a shared dormitory in a hostel can cost as little as $5 per night, but we decided early on that a good night’s sleep was worth the little extra expense.
Our budget was £25/night and for most places this was more than enough.

Ways to save money on accommodation:

  1. Booking at last minute often saved us money. We looked online, ‘saved’ our favourite hotels (even when they were out of our price range) and looked again at them 1-2 days before we needed them. Quite often, we found that they had reduced in price.
  2. Get cashback on online bookings. We used http://www.topcashback.co.uk to get cashback on our Expedia purchases and saved our Expedia points to get more money knocked off. Our credit card offered cashback on purchases so that was another bonus.
  3. Indulge during the week, scrimp at weekends. Prices tended to go up at weekends, so sometimes we stayed in nicer accommodation during the week and moved to a cheaper place at the weekend.
  4. Windowless rooms – a ‘standard’ room in some of the bigger hotels often means no window. This isn’t always as depressing as it sounds. For a start, it means it is pitch black at night, so you are guaranteed a good night’s sleep. It usually means you can afford to stay in a posher hotel which means a good buffet breakfast and excellent amenities for the same price as a smaller guesthouse. The downside is that it can be a bit stuffy (particularly if your bathroom smells) and can be a bit claustrophobic if you stay in the room for long periods of time.
  5. New hotels – new hotels are often cheaper than ones that have been established for a while. Look on TripAdvisor for those with just a few reviews. The upside is that you usually get brand new facilities and the management are working very hard to impress you. That means you can get some great customer service and nice touches. The bad news is that you’re the guinea pig and sometimes you will get things that haven’t quite been tested and staff that are not properly trained yet. You may also need a map as taxi drivers may not be familiar with the hotel. If the hotel is in an area that is being developed, you may also have construction noise to deal with.
  6. Travel by night – You will save money by booking night buses and trains however the downside is that you tend to arrive early in the morning but often can’t check in to your hotel until 2pm. Most places will let you leave your luggage but if not, you have to lug it around for the next six to eight hours. It also means you are tired and dirty for much of the next day which isn’t very pleasant. Prepare yourself for some discomfort – it is not going to be the best night’s sleep but if you manage to grab 40 winks, you have saved yourself some cash.
  7. Guesthouses / home stays / Air B&B – This can vary from a room in someone’s home to having the whole place to yourself. Ask other people for their recommendations on where to stay. Don’t expect five-star luxury but what you can get for the price you pay may well surprise you. It’s also a great way to get to know local people and get some insider tips.
  8. Stay out of town – If you are staying in a big city such as Bangkok or Singapore, you will find that accommodation in the city centre comes at a premium. You can often get a better hotel for less money if you are prepared to stay in the suburbs and travel in. Obviously, you will have to factor in transport costs on top of your accommodation, but it could work out a lot cheaper, particularly if the city has a metro system, and an added bonus is that it is often quieter in these areas as well, so you will get a better night’s sleep.

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