Should I book accommodation in advance?
Always remember to check what time your flight arrives. Some flights, (India and Bali especially) arrive around midnight so it is important to know where you are going to stay.
After a long flight the last thing you will want to do is drag yourself around the dark streets knocking on the doors of small hotels or hostels asking if they still have room.
We have therefore teamed up with Hostel World so you can reserve a bed in almost any hostel or cheap hotel around the world. All you have to do is check availability online. When you have found the accommodation you want you can reserve your bed with a small deposit - you pay the rest when you arrive. Easy, safe and hassle free!
Should I stay in a hostel or hotel?
You will be spoilt for choice for places to stay in if you are following the main backpacking routes. Even if you are straying from the path you will not usually find too much trouble settling down for the night. So, given the choice of accommodation should you stay in a hostel or cheap hotel?
Hostels are very widespread. You will typically be staying in dorms with between 4 and sometimes 20+ beds, although many hostels now cater for couples and independent travellers by offering single and private double rooms too.
Hostels are normally the best places to stay if you are on a tight budget and also offer the chance of meeting other backpackers to get to know ideas of where to go next.
A lot of people still have the idea of the old Youth Hostel concept but you will find these places are now few and far between. Instead there are numerous independent hostels with amazing themes and surprisingly high standards. Australia and New Zealand probably have the most hostels. It's certainly wise to book a couple of days in advance to guarantee a bed, especially if you are travelling in the peak seasons. It is worth getting a discount travel pass such as the VIP card as this will give you a dollar of so off most places.
Large chain hotels are generally out of the budget of most backpackers, but smaller, independent hotels and bed and breakfasts can be a good choice - especially of travelling as a couple.
If you are travelling in places such as South America and Asia there are few hostels but plenty of cheap hotels. You will generally get your own room but it is definitely worth hitching up with another backpacker for the night if you are travelling alone to save a few dollars.
You can also bargain the prices down in most cheap hotels - especially in the low season or if you are staying for a few nights in a row.
Camping on backpacking trips
Even though many backpackers are travelling on extremely tight budgets very few people decide to camp.
This is for a few reasons but mainly it can be bad enough living out of a rucksack for a year let alone living in a tent as well. It is also sometimes extremely difficult to find a place suitable to put up a tent. Then there's the security issue.... is it really worth it?
Well in some places yes. Some hostels in Australia and New Zealand will have places to camp. You are then also not so isolated.
However, hostels are so cheap, staying in a tent may not really justify carrying the thing around the world with you. You will also miss out on meeting so many people...
Unless you are an extremely keen camper I would leave the canvas at home.
Camping on adventure overland trips
Some adventure tour companies offer camping trips or trips with some nights camping and some nights in hotels.
These trips can be a great way to experince camping in remote places but without the hassle of carrying a tent with you as all camping equipment is provided.