Travel Blunder: Not booking accommodations before you leave.

Posted on September 11, 2011

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Sarah gets off the train in a new town in Europe, only to discover that there aren’t any hostels available — and that the taxi driver gets a commission for dropping her off at an expensive hotel.

Or, she arrives at her hostel, only to find that there aren’t any beds left — and she has to pay a higher price because the cheap co-ed dormitories are full.

Or worse, just when Sarah wanted a good night’s sleep after a long day, she discovers she’s booked a bed inside a rave disguised as a hostel where the party rages all night, and she doesn’t want to be a part of it.

Sarah made a common student traveler mistake:

Not booking accommodations before you leave.

Here’s how to avoid it:

Hostels are by far the best places for student travelers to stay in Europe. You’ll save money, meet people, and have a great time — if you’re prepared for the demands of a communal living environment like a hostel, and if you know what you’re booking.

Book online before you go because:

  • During a high-volume travel season, hostels can fill up two to three days in advance.
  • You can compare prices and location to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
  • You can save money by booking a hostel that includes breakfast — yum!
  • You can read live reviews written by other backpackers, so you’ll know if the hostel is somewhere you want to stay. Try to book hostels with an 80% rating or higher.
  • You can figure out the hostel’s “atmosphere” and get a feel for what kind of people it draws. Is it going to be a laid-back quiet night, or a crazy party? Book a hostel that seems to have the “flavor” you want for your weekend.

You can use an online hostel booking website to read reviews and make reservations:

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