Lodging (Cheaply) in Europe

By Grant Walczak

The decision on where to stay while traveling has a huge impact on your overall experience. But did you know that you are ten times more likely to get robbed in a hotel than a hostel? You didn’t know that because that is not true, but the takeaway is that hostels are your best choice for lodging while traveling. Why? They have all the resources to make your trip unforgettable – both good and bad.

Hostels are without a doubt the cheapest option while abroad, but that’s just an added perk. They provide a service unmatched by any Five Star hotel, and some of the hostels in Europe have taken it over the top. For starters, most hostels in Europe come with English speaking employees. That alone eliminates half the battle when traveling abroad (Beware of Paris).

The role of the workers in your hostel cannot be underappreciated. Their job is to make sure you thoroughly enjoy your time in the city, and they are experts. Amenities that you receive at a hostel often include free breakfast, walking tours, guided maps, discounts at attractions, lockers, cheap alcohol and the fantastic employees. Each day your hostel will most likely have events led by the employees. These could include walking tours, Sound of Music tours or party cruises!

Choosing the right hostel is imperative, but also very simple. Sites like hostelworld.com and hostelbookers.com are fantastic because they let you review the hostel and book it right on their site. Some of these sites charge fees, so it may be easier to book directly on the hostel’s website. BEWARE. Booking on a hostel website is NOT a guaranteed reservation. If you do book using one of these sites, email the hostel to confirm your reservation. You should do this for any reservation you make while traveling. Doing so will help you avoid sleeping on the streets in Venice, a jean shop in Istanbul, and/or the floor of an over-packed hostel in Budapest. True story.

The hostel booking sites are fantastic because they tell you everything you need to know about a hostel and provide reviews from other travelers. Make sure to read some reviews and look into all the amenities provided. Location is also important to consider. Being close to train stations or the club scene are aspects to consider depending on preferences.

Other means of lodging include hotels, apartments or staying with friends. Hotels provide privacy and security, but tend to be more expensive and offer fewer amenities. Apartments are great if traveling in a group or for an extended period of time. They are often less expensive than hotels and provide a homier experience. Staying with friends, in my opinion, is the only option that rivals hostel. Stay for free, people who know the city, easiest and safest option. This option should be used every time if it is feasible.

Last resort options include Airports, Trains, boats, etc. They are by far not ideal and are accompanied with a rough nights sleep. They do, however, save money and sometimes are the only option.

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  • Hostels provide English-speaking employees, other options are not guaranteed
  • Hostel Booking Sites are great for selecting the best hostel
  • Always confirm your reservation
  • Book from the hostel site directly if possible
  • Apartments can be great alternatives, especially longer trip

*HOSTEL HIGHLIGHT*

Carpe Noctem – Budapest, Hungary

Carpe Noctem is absolutely the most entertaining hostel in the world. It has a contagious culture unlike anything I have ever experienced. All of the employees are former travelers who were so captivated by this beautiful city they simply couldn’t leave. Immediately upon arrival the employees and other travelers are your best friends.

Each day there are various options for popular and not-so-popular attractions. I chose to spend one day at the Turkish baths and one shooting post-soviet rifles. The nights are an adventure to say the least (Carpe Noctem = Seize the Night). Led by the experienced and skilled employees, they will do their best to make your trip unforgettable. I will leave the details out and let you experience it on your own.

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