Where I Lay my Head while Traveling/Living Abroad
The debate on whether or not to splurge on accommodations is one that continues to come up in the travel world. There are two sides of the story and, honestly, both make valid points. I'm neutral in the argument because I've done it all. One thing I haven't done and will never do is stay somewhere dirty. That's an automatic dealbreaker for me. As long as it's clean and safe it's fair game for me.
There are some people that want to spend their money on other things like food, experiences, transportation, etc. This side takes the approach of saving money by not staying in lavish hotels or resorts. "You're barely going to be there anyway" is a common phrase that pops up in this debate. Backpackers often come to mind, but there are plenty of travelers that do this on a regular basis. Lodging can easily become the most expensive part of a trip so it's completely understandable to want to save some coins in that area.
The other side has a different approach to the conversation. For many, lodging is a big part of the experience. After all, it is where you're going to be laying your head every night. There's also a lot of satisfaction in staying in a beautiful hotel whether it be the views, little touches or perks that come with it.
As for me, I've done it all and I'm going to let you in on the pros and cons for each.
Yes, you read that correctly. My first time living abroad was with an Italian family in Turin, Italy. Before moving I received a one page introduction and a picture of my family. That's all. I packed my bags and moved halfway across the world to move into someone's house I'd never even met before.
Believe it or not it was one of the best experiences I've ever had while traveling and living abroad. By the end of the three months my host family was no longer a host family, but a FAMILY. Living with a local family gave me an inside look at the lifestyle, culture, language, food, and everything in between. My Italian Family was the highlight of my three months in Italy and we still keep in touch to this day.
Staying in somebody's house definitely isn't for everybody, but I truly loved my experience in Italy. So much so, I did it again in Senegal. I had primarily lived on campus at the boarding school, but every other weekend I stayed with a host family. Having those connections really cannot be replicated through any of aspects of travel. Living in someone else's house is just a completely different level.
BOARDING SCHOOL DORMITORY
I was a Volunteer English Teacher at a boarding school, but I stayed on campus too. I can't make this shit up. I lived on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal in a private dorm room. I had my own little area, but my students were right down the hall. Living on campus as a teacher was a different experience for me. I didn't just see my students during class. I saw them at every meal, during breaks, during movie nights, during field trips, on the bus ride home, and more.
During my time in Senegal I was able to build the best connections with my students because we were literally together ALL THE TIME. We talked about school, music, sports, dance trends, viral videos, food, culture, and every other aspect of our lives. I knew about the different relationships on campus, who was going to Europe for the holidays, who had divorced parents, the list goes on. My students became the dozens of younger siblings I didn't know I needed.
Before you close this article, hear me out. Hostels are not dangerous, dirty places like people tend to think. I've had some of the best travel experiences while staying in hostels. When solo traveling, hostels arE a great way to meet people and find things to do while out on your own. In Spain, I stayed in hostels that had walking tours, tourist attraction trips and nightlife.
Make sure to do your research and read reviews. Some hostels are for partying, some offer things to do and others are just for lodging. Making sure to pick the right one is important. You can also decide what type of room you want to stay in whether it is mixed with boys and girls, same sex only or a private room. There are plenty of ways to make your stay at a hostel both comfortable and fun!
Each time I stay in an Airbnb it feels like a home away from home and, as a nomad, that is an invaluable feeling. Whether I’m staying overnight or for an extended trip, Airbnb hosts do a great job of making their homes comfortable and being available when needed. I will always be a fan of Airbnb because of the uniqueness of every stay and the ability to connect with a local through the stay. Airbnb hosts can also give you recommendations and information that you just won't find anywhere else.
ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT
Probably the most luxurious options is staying at an all inclusive resort. This option is like a one stop shop for everything you could need on vacation from your room to restaurants to transportation to excursions. Staying at an all inclusive resort just makes things so much easier because everything is available right at your finger tips.
The downside of staying an all inclusive resort is you're in a very controlled area and, usually, away from local culture. Often these resorts are located in very touristy areas and getting to the real experience of the country can be a journey away. The price also is not going to be on the cheap side even with deals and discounts, but you gotta pay to play.
The most common accommodation option is a hotel and there are plenty that have made a name for themselves. Hotels are great because they have history and proven track records. You can also get rewards cards and other perks when staying at different hotel chains. Whether it's the included breakfast or familiarity, big chains have their benefits.
It's no secret that some hotels are better than others, but there are a lot of small, local hotels that shouldn't be left out of the conversation either. Little boutique hotels can offer a great way for you to support local businesses and get a more immersive experience. They often have design touches related to the culture and traditional dishes you can try as well.
Living abroad means doing a lot of regular things like staying in an apartment. In both South Korea and Haiti, I had my own apartment. In South Korea, it was a typical Korea studio apartment. It was itty bitty, but just enough for me. In Haiti, I had a spacious one bedroom apartment right by my job and in a great location.
Having somewhere to call yours in a great feeling when living in a foreign country. Whether I wanted to call my family at home, spend an entire weekend in bed, or have friends over, I had the freedom to do so in my own space. Constantly moving and changing entire countries can be difficult, but there are also parts that make it feel like home.
Whether you want lavish lodging or simple stays…
it’s all up to you. You can try out different types or stick to what you know. As long as you’re booking those trips that’s all that matters ✈️