Our RTW Trip » Research & Tips » Accommodation

When Marc told his Dad that we were going to take a year off to travel around the world, he was very happy for us but called back a little while later concerned about how we were going to afford to do this. For starters, at $100 per night for rooms, we would spend $36,000 just on hotels! How did we have that kind of money?

Obviously, we didn’t, but it was a fair observation. Luckily for us, decent hostels, hotels, motels, pensions and guesthouses don’t necessarily cost as much as they do in the West. It seems that North Americans tend to harbour a belief that hotels in other countries are sketchy or dirty or scary, but I would argue that a few days spent on the road in any country would disemble that misconception quickly. The vast majority of the time, hostels are clean, bathrooms are functional, mattresses are comfortable and room are secure. Also, I’ve discovered that we prefer a friendly and comfortable establishment to one that might offer more luxury.

Most often, we stayed in hostels (the definition of hostel varies widely) with our own private room and a private bath, when it wasn’t too costly. Our budget didn’t itemize hotel costs but a standard, comfortable, clean room was always well within our budgetary reach, even in the most expensive countries.


  • It’s worth noting that by travelling as a couple, it cost only very slightly more to stay in private double rooms than it would for both of us to spend the night in a dorm (which, by the way, ain’t so bad either).
  • Twice we redeemed the points collected on credit cards for hotel rooms in the more expensive cities; 10 years’ worth of points on my credit card paid for five nights at the Best Western in Rome and 8 years’ worth of points on Marc’s card paid for three nights in Tokyo. Both would have otherwise been exorbitant.
  • We bought a light mosquito net in India which, while protecting us from mosquitoes, also protected us from any cockroaches or other leggy friends that might happen to wander by. This little net allowed for many good nights’ rest.
  • Other travellers were by far the best resource for finding exceptional accommodations (by exceptional, I mean cheap and fabulous).
  • More often than hotels, hostels offer alot more than just rooms: tour booking, pub crawls (if that’s your thing), BBQs on the rooftop patio, beer nights, train booking, bus booking, wine tours, or whatever is popular at the destination. They know why people visit their town and they’re ready to set you up.
  • Hostels are much more conducive to meeting other travellers than hotels, which, frankly, is one of the best parts of travelling long-term.
  • We never had anything stolen from our room but I attribute that, in part, to the fact that we would make an effort not to stay in the dodgiest part of town, and to the fact that we would always lock our bags up when we left the room – and sometimes, lock the bags to the bed. Probably, this wasn’t necessary everywhere, but it may have saved us from some sticky fingers here and there.


For the most part, we used HostelWorld to book our accommodations worldwide. Otherwise, we made good use of the recommendations in whatever guidebook we were using (mostly Lonely Planet) or we asked other travellers for their advice.

HostelWorld Our favourite tool for booking budget accommodations worldwide, though specifically in Asia.  My favourite feature is that we can include “WiFi availability” in the search criteria. Also, the User Reviews and Ratings was an excellent feature as we always gravitated towards the establishment rated high in the “clean” category.

Hostel Bookers Similar to Hostel World, it is useful for booking budget accommodations. Especially useful in South America- this region seems to be a focus of the website. The best tool, hands down, for booking accommodation in Europe and USA. Good maps, good review mechanisms; the best feature is that you can get a confirmation online without forking over a deposit. Cancellation without penalty within 3 days.

The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Sleeping in Airports Just in case.

Favourite Hotel Rooms

Note: considering we stayed at over 150 hotels and hostels this year, the places on this list are exceptional. Also, luxury was not a mandatory criteria for making it onto this list, but comfort, service and character were; we discovered that those elements are far more rare and valuable.

* found on HostelWorld or HostelBookers
† found on
‡ recommended by other travellers