“Bad Wolf Bay.” Southerndown Beach, Bristol Channel coast, Wales. Summer 2013.
…to travel well. –Eugene Fodor
If you look back at the questions we set out in our earlier posts, you’ll see the only one left is What is your budget? By now you should know roughly what amount you have for your trip and this amount may look large but in your preplanning the number can drop drastically depending on your first few choices. Be prepared.
This post probably going to be the biggest part of planning and will have a lot of information, so I’ll break it down for you. I’ll focus on the first half of housing part of the pre-trip budget here (the next will cover the less conventional lodgings) and the transportation budget tips in the one after that.
You’ll need to go to EXCEL (or some system like it), and be prepared to become really good friends.
Budget organizing and set up:
Page one: lable the tab “budget”
Write your budget in 1b next to “Total” in 1a. You may eventually want to convert this number into the main currency you will be working in a few columns down but you can usually leave this until after your pre-trip purchases. You can also decide if you’ll be dividing the budget per person while planning or just work with the whole. You can do both by putting the individual budget in 1b or another column or two down. For now, leave this part be.
Make new page tabs for “Travel” and “Housing” as these will be your main fixtures pre-trip. Later you may break these down by place or type but it’s not really necessary.
Look at where you’re going, who with, and type of budget as these will determine the accommodations you’ll be looking at.
Now back to your research and lists.
What kind of accommodations are you looking at? There are resorts, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, rentals, and (a trend that is gaining steam) couch surfing in strangers’ homes (these last three will end up in the next post). I’ve done most of these, though the couch surfing wasn’t what the trend is today but set up through a school. I’ll walk you through these options, pros and cons, digging through the massive amounts of information to find the gems, and who I suggest doing them (or not).
Here are some questions: do you want a maid service/ someone else cleaning your room? Do you want breakfast supplied or a food vendor(s) on premises? Room service? Turn down service? Do you want entertainment like shows/pools/theme parks right outside your building? Then a resort package and accommodation is probably for you. These are usually the highest end cost wise as everything you could want is right at your fingertips. This can be great for those with small children, large family gatherings, or anyone who really doesn’t want much of a hassle in planning anything. There is always something going on and always someone around to help you with whatever you need. They are set up specifically so visitors can relax and not really worry about anything.
However, there are some cons that go along with this stress free environment—you may never leave the comfort of your resort. If you are on a trip to see the sites and really experience the culture and the authentic feel of the place(s) you are visiting, I would steer clear of these accommodations. If you think this is for you, there are sites you can visit and get deals, but more times than not, as stated above, the costs are high. You should really weigh the cost verses the ease and see where it gets you.
Hotels can have many of the luxuries one is afforded in a resort minus (generally) the direct access to entertainment. They are rarely as pricy as a resort (unless really famous for something) but tend to come with basic access to food, maid services, and the like. They can also be called Inns (usually when located in more rural or country areas) and have fun room or whole building themes. Basically, if you can afford it, will be around for multiple nights, and don’t feel like “roughing it,” a hotel might be exactly what you are looking for. Again there are plenty of websites that can give you the best rates (some even matching up better deals with flights and the like). These accommodations are great for any age or group as long as you consider the stars rewarded.
Motels are basically hotels for motorists. They were built as short time lodging for people who would be moving on quickly. If you are looking for a room for a night as you pass through, this could be it. Parking is usually free but there usually aren’t lobbies or any real interior gathering space. Your door faces a parking lot so you’ll have direct access to your vehicle. The prices for motels tend to be significantly cheaper than the others we’ve discussed, but (according to most who have visited them) you can tell you paid less. While there is a cleaning service, one is usually advised not to lie on the comforter and to never use a black light. There aren’t usually food services through the motel, but a chain restaurant tends to be located next door. So if you are on a budget and don’t need the pampering, just a place to lay your head, motels can be great.
BED AND BREAKFAST
This could have gone before motels but here we are anyway. Bed and breakfasts are a lot like a hotel, but more closely related to a country Inn; in fact the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. A bed and breakfasts have the features of those previously mentioned like food, maid services, and prices, but they are built to be a person’s home away from home. This makes them great for a week away were one doesn’t plan on going out much but is usually pretty far removed from places you would want if you are in town to see the sights. Unlike a hotel, however, B&Bs are usually single entities—not part of a chain. They usually have themes like an Inn and have organized events based on the area they are located in. Some people—anyone who has watch Gilmore Girls episode “The Road Trip to Harvard” can attest to this—find these to be slightly off putting or creepy, but for others who enjoy group events like bird watching, crafts and the like without going anywhere, a B&B may be for you!
These are the more conventional lodgings that one sees outside of horror stories and commercials for them and their deal sites are constantly flashing across all forms of media. Doing a bit of research will find you the best prices and deals while buying other travel purchases like airfare. If anyone wants more ideas of where to look, feel free to ask—I don’t mind helping out fellow travelers.
Finally, remember to look at locations as well as prices! You may be spending less money on one place over another, but is it a huge advantage if you have to trek miles to see any of the places you’ve already book marked?
When you have made a selection based on your research (if these ARE the lodgings you are looking for) start putting the possible selections for each town into your “HOUSING” tab. (Don’t forget to save the pages of these selections into your internet favorites; I recommend making a “travel” folder). After final decisions you can calculate the total housing costs to subtract from the total. This will let you know if you are under, over or on track for your overall expenditures. If you are on track, nice job and keep it up! If you’re under, even better. Enjoy spending that extra bit on the trip. If it’s too much, don’t worry. Go back over your budget. Maybe you can down grade some of the time; choose one of the less costly lodgings for places you’ll only be at a small portion of your travels. Why spend big if you’re not going to be there for very long?
And remember, the amount of money you put into your lodging should reflect how much time you expect to spend at that location. So, if you are only sleeping at a high-end and high priced hotel while you sleep and are running around outside the rest of the time, do you need to spend the big bucks? Think economically but only to the point where you are comfortable. After all, if you can’t sleep due to lacking accommodations, saving money won’t help all that much any way. All things in moderation.
So until we continue next time,
I’m leave on the wind, helping you soar.