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The hotels where you stay during your travels can greatly impact the length of your trip. I once stayed at an Airbnb with party-animal owners, and regret that I wasted so much time in transit by staying at a hotel away from the city center (to save a few dollars, of course — which I ended up paying later!). Now, wherever I go, I keep an eye out for these five features.
This is by far often the most important criteria when choosing a place to stay. On the road, I’m hardly in my hotel room anyway, so it’s much better to stay in a hotel that’s central, safe, well-lit, and away from any venues like nightclubs or bars that are likely to blast music all night. Since staying in the main city center is usually more expensive, keep an eye out for hotels that are easily accessed by public transportation and close to nearby restaurants and attractions. When in predominantly Muslim countries like Indonesia, I also opt to stay away from the central mosque because it often plays the call to prayer out of speakers during the night.
Value for Money
When you’re on the road for a while, every dollar counts. Five dollars here and there is usually a meal or even an extra night in a room in some cheaper countries. I always search through reviews for hotels and then find out if there is a coupon or promotionhappening at the ones that catch my eye (especially for when I have friends visiting California). I also make a mental note if other budget bloggers, like Frugal Frolicker, have specific recommendations because they’ve often vetted the best value for money. Ideally, I like my hotel room to cost about half of my daily budget, provide breakfast, and offer cleaning services.
Paying for a room that’s filthy is unacceptable, but luckily, many people comment on this aspect of their stay after they check out of their hotels. Stains on the bedsheets, hair in the bathroom, and bugs are an immediate no-go for me. If it’s one night, I will usually cope with it without complaint. If I’m staying more than one night, I’ll check out and search for cleaner accommodations.
Does the place where I’m staying have a way to protect my belongings — and more importantly, me? Ideally, every hotel has 24-hour reception and a security box inside of my room as a minimum. Unfortunately, freaks and theives exist all over the globe, so this is one thing that I’m extremely picky about. I want to be able to sleep knowing that the premises won’t be prowled and that my things are safe while I’m away.
Opportunities to Socialize
I’m now at the stage where I hate sleeping in hostel dorms (I’m a light sleeper), but I love hostels for the ability to make friends. It’s so easy to find a travel buddy over breakfast, or join a group tour. These days, I split my hostel-to-private-room ratio about 1:1. I pack my heavy-duty earplugs and cross my fingers for quiet bunk mates who don’t snore.