With a host of hostels, hotels, condos, apartments, and room shares available online, it can be so confusing to choose the best one for your travel needs. In the Philippines, there are currently 12,000 properties to choose from—and this is from Agoda alone. Not to mention the other popular booking sites you can also check out: Airbnb, LastMinute, Booking.com, and Hostelworld among others.
Thankfully, I’ve never been ripped off at accommodations I’ve booked online, save for those hostels that surprised me with a “city tax” to be paid upon arrival. I think the language barrier was more at play in there because other than this, I’ve had a pleasant stay at all my travel accommodations.
From experience, I list down the top things I always consider which tremendously help me with landing on the right accommodation:
I make sure the area is walking distance from and to a major train, bus or tram station. Having this all set presupposes the idea that when there is a major station, there will always be groceries, cafés, computer shops, lighted areas— and people. I always try to avoid instances where I arrive at an area surprised it isn’t busy, lighted, or accessible to anything.
Accommodations near stations can cost more because you tend to also pay for the location, but this add-on premium is definitely more cost-effective in the long run: less-to-no taxi rides, no more negotiations with taxi drivers, and no more I’ll-just-buy-this-because-I-don’t-have-other-options sentiments. In a prime location, you will always have options.
- Additional Pricing
Most accommodations offer discounts for weekly and monthly stays, and this is more straightforward on Airbnb where discounts are written on the listings. As I write this I am in Casablanca and since I am staying here for months, I booked at a listing with a 35% discount for monthly stays— It’s amazing this sort of perk exists!
- Internet and Kitchen
Some accommodations say they do have internet but when you arrive, you are surprised to find these are the long-gone USB sticks you have to reload on your own. If the host does not have a Wi-Fi, make sure he/she covers for all your internet reloads.
And finally, one of the last keys to this puzzle of finding good and affordable accommodation is to make sure you book a place with a kitchen—individual or shared, it doesn’t matter. Eating out is expensive and to do this every single day on your travels can seriously exhaust your funds far quicker than you can imagine.
Here in Casablanca, I eat at home and eat out only on Friday nights. I get to enjoy myself doing groceries and markets, and to eat and drink all I want—all for a fortnightly budget of 600 Dirhams. Given that every meal here costs on average 30 Dirhams, having a kitchen at home seriously is a big saving for me.
I’ve always been a fan of accommodations with kitchen because not only do I get big savings, I also feel “like a local” doing groceries, markets and preparing meals based on what’s available in the country. Through food shopping, I’ve learned to count in French because of doing Sunday markets, and storekeepers have learned a thing or two on how to say greetings in Filipino.
Not to sound advertise-y for I’m just speaking from experience, but I personally vouch for Airbnb for it provides extensive information on listings. I never get problems looking for these three things (location, additional pricing, internet and kitchen access) when I use the platform. Hope it proves helpful for you, too 🙂