Affordable Accommodation Options for over 50's female travelers.
Accommodation is often your biggest expense on the road. If you truly want to do the open free spirited “I'm going to go where the wind takes me trip”, that will always cost you more. Last minute anything can be expensive and while there are last minute websites, they aren't usually for budget accommodation. You may get a night at the Sheraton half price but for most budget travelers that's still a weeks worth of accommodation.
Being a more mature aged (did you like how I phrased that??) female traveler, doesn't mean you can't still get cheap or free accommodation if you travel on a budget like I do. Often, you will find you are accepted more readily to homestays and the like because you are older and people assume you will have more experience and be more respectful.
Check out my suggestions below and hopefully they will help you get close to your daily spend limits.
This is something you will have to make your own mind up on. I've used it before and loved it but you have to make sure you make informed decisions about where you stay especially if you are female. Don't forget the rubber door stop I mention in my “Things I always have” post.
- Check for references. The couchsurfing website shows references for each host. Don't be scared to message someone who left a reference and ask them for more info.
- Be a host while you are at home. Build up relationships with some international travellers before you leave on your trip.
- ASK other travelers at a busy hostel if anyone has even done any couchsurfing in Banff for example. See who says what and who recommends what. You might not get Banff info but you might get Vancouver options.
- Consider female only hosts if you are a bit hesitant. Better to be safe and comfortable than not.
2. AirBnB Rooms
I love AirBnB and have been using it for years. We often joke we might have been their very first guests. What I'm finding now though is that the prices are really starting to climb. There are a lot of people that are running holiday lets as a business from AirBnB now so it is getting harder to find cost effective stays.
The exception to this rule is shared or private rooms. I personally don't do shared rooms from AirBnB . I feel I can get a hostel dorm bed for the same price or often cheaper than a room on AirBnB, & I feel free to come and go knowing that there is structure there if something goes wrong.
In a person's private home they have no control over who you are sharing with (in a shared room situation) and if I'm not comfortable with my room mate what are my options? Private rooms however are still mostly affordable. You can book in advance, they have an app for your phone and you maintain some level of privacy.
I always check:
- If I will have a key to come and go as I please (or a code)
- If I have a separate entry – I'm probably not going to come home as late if I have to tiptoe through the entire house
- If I will be on my own or sharing – just helps to know sometimes especially if you are already sleeping and your room mate rocks up at 12:30am. At least if you know you are expecting someone you won't be too upset.
- If I have a separate bathroom or the family bathroom – I have friends that think its rude to ask this but knowing has allowed me to ensure I'm on time for a day tour for example. There is nothing worse than getting up at 7 only to have to wait for the entire family to traipse through the bathroom before you can use it – which in turn makes you very late.
Homestays are the other version of AirBnB mainly aimed at sharing someone's home (if that makes sense). I'm really liking it so far. The accommodation seems cheaper than AirBnB & the hosts seem more focused on helping you out. It seems like a cross between couchsurfing and AirBnB to me.
Just remember to consider what you want to do in the area you are visiting. If you have limited time and really just need somewhere to crash, paying for a room is possibly a better option than couchsurfing or homestays. Using the couchsurfing or homestays websites pretty much means you will have some great interaction with local people, however the other side of that is you can't just use their home as a crash pad. It's respectful to invest some time and effort into getting to know them.
4. House Sitting
Usually for longer terms but house sitting is a great way to really ingrain yourself into the local community and also get to rest and plan your next leg. For free too! There are lots of housesitting websites. Google is your best friend here. I've done a month in Louisiana house sitting, a week in Banff, 10 days in Costa Rica and other random week and weekend sits. It's a great way to immerse yourself in an area and see as much as you can. It also gets you some puppy love if you dog sit!
Why did I put hostels last you ask??
Hostels are great for a budget bed for the night and I've used (and still do) my fair share of them. However – they are never my first choice. To be honest I would rather camp than stay in a dorm bed in most hostels.
There are exceptions to every rule (check out Len Kyoto in Kyoto in Japan – such a great hostel) but overall I don't find hostels to be a great fit for me. I travel to experience things – NOT to drink and party, and while I appreciate lots of people do like to have a few drinks (me too just not all the time) and go crazy at the bar, that's not how I travel.
That means that often I'm awake at 2am with zero chance of going back to sleep and I've booked a volcano climb the next day. I don't love them so I find myself ONLY using hostels when it is by far the MOST affordable option.
TIP: I always limp into a hostel. I hate top bunks so I always limp and try to impress upon them that I couldn't possibly climb down with my bad knee. I do have a bad knee so I'm not lying, but it might not be horrible at that exact moment in time, however explaining that I will never get to sleep on a top bunk just doesn't cut it. So my bad knee often helps out.
General Considerations for Accommodation:
Don't get so hung up on your daily accommodation budget when you end up having to blow it for a night, after you just can't get a bed in a hostel. Sometimes the splurge is a welcome relief.
I've had nights in hotels that were over my budget but I've slept-in (quiet hotels are awesome!), hung my washing all over the room and got it dry, put that color on my hair, watched some TV and generally enjoyed the space and quiet. It might cost you more money but it might save your sanity too.
There is always going to be times you can't get a bed somewhere and while one of my top 10 travel tips is to always make sure you have enough for a night at the Hilton if need be, you don't want to have to use that money unless its an absolute emergency. It is however, better to be safe at the Hilton than wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city looking like a target.
And make no mistake, sleeping at the bus station does make you a target.
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.