Guest blogger Cara Caulkins is currently traveling the world. Follow her adventures on her blog, Round the World with C.
So you're ready to begin an adventure abroad. You've picked the destination, booked your flight and created your budget. Like many travelers, you might not be looking for the hostel dorm room experience, but you might not want to blow your whole vacation budget on two nights in a five-star hotel. So where does that leave you? Somewhere I like to call in the mid-budget traveler range, one I've come to know well depending on where I am, who I am with and if I'm in need of taking a break from the budget backpacker experience.
I define the "mid-budget range" not necessarily on an exact range of rates or cost that are uniform across the world, but more related to a level of standards. A mid-budget range will cost different depending on where you are in the world, but overall I find the accommodation typically includes a private, clean and friendly place to rest your head without "frills" or necessarily a luxury feel. Again, price still varies by region/country/city, so picking your location based on your budget does factor into the type of accommodation you will be able to afford while abroad.
Here are some tips I've found helpful, as I have navigated this middle-of-the-road accommodation adventure:
What to look for:
- Reviews, reviews and more reviews. I think one of the best uses of the Internet while traveling is finding reviews from fellow, like-minded travelers. I use sites such as TripAdvisor (editor's note: SmarterTravel.com is part of TripAdvisor Media Group), Lonely Planet, and my favorite travel blogs to search and compare for mid-priced finds.
- When stumbling upon a good mid-budget location, the top traits that separate the good from the ugly tend to be friendly owners/staff, amenities such as free breakfast and free wi-fi, AC and cleanliness.
- A bonus is that usually mid-range accommodation is less of a hotel chain and more of an independently run, smaller location with more character and great people. Terms such as guesthouse, bed&breakfast and inn have all led me to some pretty charming, well-priced accommodation.
What to avoid:
- Bad reviews. I value and trust others' opinions and respect those that are willing to share a bad experience to help others avoid a similar mistake
- Don't necessarily rely on a tourist book listing. I definitely have used my fair share of guidebooks to help with accommodation referrals, but surprisingly there are still some bad seeds that get written up. Look out for terms such as "quaint" and "dated" or descriptions that include mentions of rude staff, un-cleanliness or in need of a "refresh".
- Check for ratings and reviews written within at least the past 2 months of your travel date. Independently run accommodation can change quickly especially in more rural areas, party destinations or impoverished countries. What was adequate for a mid-priced budget in 2010 could easily be a dump in 2012.
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(Photo: Hotel: Twin Beds via Shutterstock)