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Where can I stay besides hostels?

virtuewill

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  • Added on: May 5th, 2011
I really want to just travel around the world but hate the idea of staying at hostels. I think if I were in my early 20s I'd do the whole hostel thing but I'm getting a bit antisocial these days and it's a lot of work to meet new people all the time. It would make me feel uncomfortable too by not joining in on the parties.

Hotels would ruin my budget. Plus I don't really like hotels. It makes it feel like a vacation.

So, what are some options? Is it possible to couchsurf the majority of the world, when I only speak english? I even thought about driving around the world with a SUV but don't know how expensive it'd get.

Bideshi

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  • Added on: May 5th, 2011
Well, first of all, I'd scratch the driving around the world in an SUV option.

Couchsurfing is something I've heard a lot of people swear by, but I've never tried it. Maybe someone else can write more about that for you.

As far as hostels, it totally depends where you are in the world. I'm not really much of a hostel fan either. They were cool back in the day, but now I'm old and grumpy. When I'm in Western Europe, though, it's the only thing I can afford to do. In other parts of the world, it's a lot easier to find cheap guesthouses or hotels to stay in. I'm not sure what you mean by hotels making it feel like it's a vacation, but I'm sure your $4 a night hotel in Guatemala or Cambodia won't feel overly luxurious or whatever negative thing "vacations" bring. But I think it's important to point out that not all hostels are party places. I've stayed at a LOT of hostels that had great atmospheres, I've had wonderful conversations with interesting people from all over the world, and they weren't loud, alcohol-fueled debauchery factories. What I do is when I book or research a hostel online, I look at the reviews and choose one with a low "fun" rating. Sometimes that backfires, but usually it is a good indication that it isn't going to be a party hostel.

Speaking English isn't a problem - most people want to practice anyway. If you know you're going to couchsurf, though, I'd imagine the effort to learn a few polite words before you arrive would be much appreciated. Otherwise, English will get you all the way around the world.

Hope you have a good trip. Get out there - you'll never regret it!

Andromeda

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  • Added on: May 6th, 2011
Just wondering, is it hostels in particular that you seriously mind or the thought of staying in a dorm? Because the majority of hostels these days are not at all like they were even a few years ago, and in fact have single rooms etc that are cheaper than a hotel room (and you could just bypass the common room if that's not your thing).

Beyond that in Asia guesthouses are pretty cheap, and in Europe look into pensions (sp?), plus every place in Eastern Europe I've arrived to had little old ladies looking to get money from having a cheap room for the night at the station (they hold signs that say "soba rooms zimmer"). If anything they are cheaper than the hostel dorm bed even.

I've never done Couchsurfing myself because it's not something I feel comfortable with as a 20-something solo woman traveler (though I've met others who have who fit in that age bracket to be fair) though from what I understand it might not be your thing if your primary concern is unwillingness to meet people?

halfnine

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  • Added on: May 6th, 2011
There are loads of places where you can stay that are not hostels. So, that is not an issue. The issue is going to be price, specifically in the more modern countries...Europe, Australia, Japan, etc. In that case there are often hostels that cater to a more local crowd, families, etc. it's just a matter of figuring out which ones those are. The further away you get from downtown where the action is the more likely you'll be interacting amongst the locals then other travelers.

2wanderers

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  • Added on: May 6th, 2011
virtuewill wrote:I really want to just travel around the world but hate the idea of staying at hostels. I think if I were in my early 20s I'd do the whole hostel thing but I'm getting a bit antisocial these days and it's a lot of work to meet new people all the time. It would make me feel uncomfortable too by not joining in on the parties.

Parties are optional, and depend a lot on what hostel you stay at. Hostelworld has a "fun" rating, and I try to pick ones that have low numbers in that category. I'm not sure how old you are, but outside of W. Europe, (or Eastern Europe destinations served by Ryanair), and Oz/NZ, most hostel-goers are late 20s and up, probably mostly in their mid-thirties, though there's no reason to think you won't run into a 70 year old.

Hotels would ruin my budget. Plus I don't really like hotels. It makes it feel like a vacation.

The world is full of variety, so don't rule anything out. I've stayed in things that are nominally called hotels, but cost below $10/night for a two-bed room. Some countries it's $20-$40, but those can often be very nice places with A/C.

Likewise, the term hostel means a different thing in Quito than it means in London. In cheaper countries a hostel usually means basic, but still private rooms (usually shared bath, though that's common in most of the world no matter what kind of budget accomodation you use). Even within London, the difference between the $10/night places and the $30/night places is huge. $10/night means their business model is counting on you spending money at the bar, $30/night usually means acceptably small dorms (I find 4-beds or less to fine), older/less party oriented clientele, and a step up in mattress quality.

All that said, I most consistently enjoy accommodations that call themselves a B&B, Pension, Guesthouse, Casa Particulare, etc. Basically homes that rent out a room by the night, and hopefully include breakfast. It depends what's available.


So, what are some options? Is it possible to couchsurf the majority of the world, when I only speak english?

The problem with couchsurfing is availability and complex arrangements. Non-western countries have fairly limited numbers of hosts, and so it's difficult to find someone that suits your needs. There's a lot more work that goes into contacting people and arranging things. It's worthwhile, but I wouldn't count on couchsurfing every night. Even 1/2 of nights will require a high commitment to making the arrangements, and flexibility to go where there's an available couch.

Language tends not to be a huge issue. A lot of couchsurf hosts are expats, and those that are true locals tend to be middle class which usually means they can speak some English.

I even thought about driving around the world with a SUV but don't know how expensive it'd get.
[/quote]
Scratch that idea. Doing limited trips in certain regions - with adequate population density and economic development to have gas and service stations within normal driving range - is fine, basically the cost of buying a car, but driving RTW is obscenely expensive. Serious overlanders often drop 6-figures outfitting their vehicles, and then there's issues of shipping the car places that aren't well connected by roads and ferries, cost of the carnet (a passport for your car, which usually requires leaving a deposit to pay any import taxes if your car fails to leave a country...varies by carnet provider and countries visited, but can be $10k+).

If you want a cheap trip using your own transportation, bring a bike.

zh97

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
I suppose driving an SUV all around the world would be a little unrealistic, but we are in Europe camping our way through and I find it a great way to meet others, while being as "antisocial" as you choose to be. I've seen a lot of people in Campervans (can be bought and sold back when you're done). You can throw a bike rack (with bike) on the back and explore that way so you aren't always driving.

Also, the age range at campsites is much more diverse than the hostel majority. We spent one month at a campsite in Holland where we had "neighbors" come and go that were everywhere from their 30's to their 80's.

Also, at campsites here, I find everyone to be "tolerant" of everyone else's inability to speak the "local" language because in a row of four campers, there might be four different languages represented. In these scenarios, everyones "little bit" of English becomes a common denominator.

Anyways, another idea for you! Good luck with your plans!

Denise Pulis

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
Dear Virtue Will - you need to be far more specific. You didn't mention where you want to travel nor what 'cheap' or 'expensive' means to you. I've always found hostels who offered private rooms with bathrooms which were super clean (though of course, furniture and fittings were old, but what do you expect for the price?). This is always cheaper than a hotel, but of course, rock bottom prices are to be found in dorms. While staying in a private room, I never had contact with other people unless I specifically wanted to. Also, the price of a private hostel room in Europe or Australia gets you a room in a hotel with pool in South East Asia, so it really depends where you want to travel.

It also seems like couch surfing makes absolutely no sense since you called yourself antisocial. Imagin having to speak to and be friendly towards (no one wants a grumpy guest) every single person who offers you a bed/couch, and sharing their bathrooms and kitchens???

K2

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
In Europe, hostels are the cheapest option. Maybe Couchsurfing but I never did that.

Just don't join in the parties when you don't feel like it. Go to sleep or go find a place to read a book or a coffee house to chill out. You're not obligated to join everyone. It's your choice.

virtuewill

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
Denise Pulis wrote:Dear Virtue Will - you need to be far more specific. You didn't mention where you want to travel nor what 'cheap' or 'expensive' means to you. I've always found hostels who offered private rooms with bathrooms which were super clean (though of course, furniture and fittings were old, but what do you expect for the price?). This is always cheaper than a hotel, but of course, rock bottom prices are to be found in dorms. While staying in a private room, I never had contact with other people unless I specifically wanted to. Also, the price of a private hostel room in Europe or Australia gets you a room in a hotel with pool in South East Asia, so it really depends where you want to travel.

It also seems like couch surfing makes absolutely no sense since you called yourself antisocial. Imagin having to speak to and be friendly towards (no one wants a grumpy guest) every single person who offers you a bed/couch, and sharing their bathrooms and kitchens???

I'm planning to go to as many countries as I can, and will touch in every continent. I know prices vary from place to place, my idea of cheap is just whatever is cheap relative to the area I'm in.

I'm not completely antisocial, at all. My point was that in my early 20s I'd be going out every weekend, but now in my late 20s I need my downtime. I still love to meet people who are down to earth and mellow. I just don't have the energy for certain kinds of parties anymore. And please don't associate antisocial people with unfriendly, grumpy people. I wouldn't be thinking about couchsurfing or traveling at all if I were grumpy and didn't want to meet a soul.

virtuewill

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
Andromeda wrote:Just wondering, is it hostels in particular that you seriously mind or the thought of staying in a dorm? Because the majority of hostels these days are not at all like they were even a few years ago, and in fact have single rooms etc that are cheaper than a hotel room (and you could just bypass the common room if that's not your thing).

Beyond that in Asia guesthouses are pretty cheap, and in Europe look into pensions (sp?), plus every place in Eastern Europe I've arrived to had little old ladies looking to get money from having a cheap room for the night at the station (they hold signs that say "soba rooms zimmer"). If anything they are cheaper than the hostel dorm bed even.

I've never done Couchsurfing myself because it's not something I feel comfortable with as a 20-something solo woman traveler (though I've met others who have who fit in that age bracket to be fair) though from what I understand it might not be your thing if your primary concern is unwillingness to meet people?

I guess it's the idea of forced socializing that I don't want. I am sure I will be burning out sometimes and want my own private time, and I don't want people to think "what's wrong with that loner".

Maybe I just have the wrong impression of hostels. I've actually never stayed at one. Thanks all for the insight/advice.

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2011
If you've never stayed at a hostel I will guarantee you that you have the wrong idea of what they're like.

I'm at a hostel now and, while I say hi to people as they pass me, I've not really had a conversation today with anyone at the hostel and that's fine. There's a group out by the bonfire pit and I'm chilling and reading. I think they aren't giving me a second thought but even if they were, why would I (or you) care if some strangers think I'm a loner?

When I want to be social, I am. When I don't, I'm not. No problem.

I will also guarantee that no one is thinking about you and your actions even a small % of the time you think they are. They have their own stuff to think about, they don't care about you.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

Andromeda

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  • Added on: May 8th, 2011
Ah ok I understand better- in that case yes I agree in that you probably just don't get how hostels work. I mean it might be different if you go to one billed as "Amsterdam's Party Centraal" or some such but in general I can't think of any where I went and felt forced into being social when I didn't want to be. This isn't high school, and in fact most people are in the "want to do my own thing but don't want it to be hard to meet someone for dinner if I want" category.

I think hostels are fine in this regard and if nothing else I'd recommend trying one out when you travel for a night or few just to see if you can handle it and at least get an idea of what they're really like (maybe get a single room if you're nervous, or just go straight for the dorm). I've often noticed the people who tend to be hesitant about hostels are ones who have never been and don't know what they're really like.

xelA

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  • Added on: May 8th, 2011
Why not try hostels and see what you think? Theres good and bad about hostels. Like many people have said, if you want to be alone, then do that, and if you want to party do that. Theres sure to be other people there that are in a similar position as you and just want to chat here and there...not be up all night drinking. Hostels have such a variety of ages, and personalities theres something there for everyone.

busman7

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  • Added on: May 9th, 2011
Don't knock something you haven't tried, especially as you have no idea what hostels are all about.

Stayed in hostels on my RTW at age 64, tended to go for the private room thing when available but stayed in the odd dorm room, nobody forces you to socialize, just do your own thing like everybody else is.

In Europe or Australia they are about the only affordable way to go, SE Asia it's guest houses, Mexico also has numerous cheap hotels, never tried couch surfing but wouldn't rule it out.

Doing the Red Roof Inn thing in San Antonio for a couple nights, down town so can walk everywhere, or use city bus. Add to that the free breakfast & internet, doesn't work out all that bad.
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Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: May 9th, 2011
Rule 1 for hostels-
If you don't want a party hostel avoid the following:

Hostels with bars in them
Hostels with compartatively high 'fun' ratingts. Fun == {Parteee!

If you do these things, you can find quiet hostels. I know I do.

They're not as private as a hotel room, but infinitely more socially interesting. The more expensive the hotel, the more elitist and cliquish will be the guests, unless you happen to fit into their 'class'

Start with individual room in hostels or perhaps 2-4 person hostel rooms. Those are the ones I go for nowadays.


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