Sunday, 18 August 2013

Accommodation for Four for Under 150 Euros

Booking Accommodation

We're heading off tomorrow so this is probably my last post until we arrive.  An exciting thought!

Being a family with teenagers, our budget is limited, but we needed accommodation - 4 is too many to doss down with family or friends.

We started by asking a travel agent if she could book us hotels and guest houses and Wow! So Expensive.  So we looked on the internet, using travel forums like Trip advisor and Fodor.

We've kept to an average budget of about $NZD200 per night (for four people). This equates to about 130 Euros.

Here's how we've done it:

Tip One - Behave like a local:
In Europe, most self-catering cottages seem to be Sat - Sat; in the UK it seems to be Friday - Friday. So if you want to stay in self-catering cottages in rural locations (like Devon), you might need to consider week-long stops.

Tip Two - go direct to the owners:
There's a lot of direct advertising by owners of their cottages.  We found the following sites:
Air BnB
Holiday Lettings
Owners Direct

If you do use these sites, read the small print, and make sure you don't send the owners the money directly. Some sites have payment protection systems, whereby the money goes into a holding account until the date of your booking.

Some issues:

  • Sometimes the directions to the place aren't provided until you've paid the total fee, which is challenging if you're trying to work out logistics like train travel.
  • It's difficult to get in touch with someone if you have an issue
  • Damage deposits and booking fees can be expensive.
  • Different owners seem to have different approaches to getting in touch. Some are really professional, others are friendly, others seem to think a postcode is all you need.

Tip Three - use Hostels:
Image from Hostel Rotterdam
Youth Hostels offer free membership to <18 years and a joint membership for couples. You can join in NZ and use the membership around the world, and they have an excellent international booking system, so you can track your bookings. Lots of hostels seem to provide breakfast and family rooms and some look amazing!
Hostelling International

Tip Four - think small:
There's also a lot of regional based accommodation providers. Their websites aren't as flash, but so far they've provided really good service:
Helpful Holidays
Menai Holiday Cottages

With these smaller providers, we found it paid to phone to confirm the bookings.

Tip Five - do what you do at home:
Camping grounds offer interesting alternatives, especially in Amsterdam.

Bon Voyage!

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