Wednesday, 21 February 2018

What are your considerations when it comes to choosing accommodations for your travels?

When travelling, accommodation is one of the main make-or-break deals for me and my husband - a good accommodation will enhance the whole trip experience and a bad one will just well, make the whole trip feel bad! There are so many accommodation options to choose from nowadays - from the more popular ones like hotels, hostels, motels, service apartments, Airbnb, bed and breakfast, couch-surfing or camps to the less conventional ones like castles, igloo, ice hotels, yacht, farmhouses or even capsule hotels etc. Even with so many accommodation options available, many other different selections of accommodation styles are still being established with each passing minute worldwide.

Personally, we have tried many different types of accommodations during our travels but the two main ones that we always go back to are hotels and Airbnb - and this post will be focused on these two types of accommodation. However, we would like it to be known that we are in no way affiliated with Airbnb or any hotels and neither are we sponsored by them in any way. This post is written entirely based on our experience and viewpoint as a customer.

There has been many articles on the impact on the hotel industry since Airbnb’s introduction in 2008. Now, a decade later, Airbnb is still one of the more popular accommodation option alongside hotels! So, what are our reasons for choosing hotels over Airbnb accommodations and vice verse? The three Cs (cost, convenience and comfort) are the main drivers for the final decision on our accommodation choice.

As travelling is not cheap, my husband and I tend to be more prudent when it comes to accommodation budget and we would usually think through carefully about a budget that we are comfortable to work with.

Some questions that we usually ask ourselves when deciding on the accommodation budget would include:
-How much can we afford to spend on this trip?
-How much of our travelling budget can we allocate for accomodation? (After taking into considerations the budget for food, transportation and visits to the touristic sites)
-Will we spend a lot of time in the accommodation or will we be out for most of the time?
-What are some of the hidden cost of the accommodation that has to be factored in (e.g. cleaning charges, internet charges, city taxes etc)?

These questions help us to make better decision by allowing us to sieve out hotel or Airbnb options with rates that are closer to our projected budget. Furthermore, it would serve as a good reminder for us to not just look at the advertised price because sometimes when the hidden charges are added in, it might not be as value-for-money as we had initially thought so. Also, personally, if we were to be out for most of the time, it would not make sense to us to spend a huge portion of our travelling budget on a place which we will only occupy to rest for the night.

Based on our travelling experience, we also realized that for places with a higher standard of living, usually the cost of staying in a hotel is much higher than what it would cost to stay in an Airbnb accommodation. Hence, in such situations, our preference for the Airbnb option would be stronger. However, for places where the cost of staying in either types of accommodation is similar, the following two Cs would have a stronger influence on our final accommodation choice.

When it comes to convenience, we would usually rank the selected accommodation options according to their ease of convenience of getting to the main touristic sites (usually it would be the city center). The main reasons for doing so is that if the accommodation is nearer to the places that we want to explore, we can most probably save on transportation cost and we could also stay out till slightly later without worrying about the last bus/train back to our accommodation. In this way, we would be maximizing our budget and time to explore this foreign wonderland!

In cases of longer trips, other than transportation convenience, we would also ask ourselves a few more questions:
-Does the accommodation provide the facilities for us to store our groceries or to cook our own meals?
-Does the accommodation have a washing machine for us to do our own laundry?
-Would there be any need for immediate assistance from the accommodation provider (such as house-keeping, recommendations on where to go or where to eat, making a dinner reservation or calling for a cab)?

Again, these questions would help us to determine if certain facilities are really required. For example, in a country where there are many economical eating-out options, an accommodation with a kitchen will not appear more appealing than one that does not have. Similarly, in a country where there is an abundance of affordable laundromats, having a washing machine in the accommodation will no longer be an enticement. On the other hand, if we are in a country where language barrier is of a great concern to us, we would usually opt to stay in a hotel whereby we can easily get assistance from the conceirge when the needs arises. Hence, the convenience in this aspect is usually destination-specific and would constitute different considerations in different destinations.

An accommodation has to be comfortable to stay in for it to enhance a trip further. My definition of a comfortable stay is not some extravagant or luxurious stay but one that allows the travelers to rest their tired feet, to have a good sleep and a good shower. Hence, any selected accommodation options that provides more than these basic comforts will be without a doubt ranked higher up in preference.

Some questions pertaining to comfort that we will usually ask ourselves include:
-Are there air-conditioners (during summer) / heater (during winter) provided?
-Can we sleep in or do we have to vacate the room for house-keeping?
-Would we want a restaurant located in the same building?
-Will we need to sacrifice some of our privacy (for accommodations with hosts staying in the same apartment/building or when the communal areas are shared between guests)?

There were times when we took it for granted that the accommodation would provide the comfort that we very much needed for our travels and needless to say, we did not have a very pleasant trip. The most unforgettable experience was this particular trip to Malta in summer, where we did not give it much thought on whether there were air-conditioners available in the accommodation. We ended up not getting much sleep for the whole week that we were there as the whole apartment felt like an oven in those warm summer nights. Naturally, we did not enjoy that trip as we were too sleep deprived to enjoy the beautiful sights of Malta. Also, we feel that having the privacy in our own space is essential for a comfortable stay. We can truly make ourselves comfortable only when we are certain that we would not have to be subjected to fears of housekeeping staff barging into our room or be under the constant watchful survillence of the accommodation hosts. To us, the accommodation is usually a place where we would find rest after a whole day out, thus, a comfortable bed, a nice showering facility or even a restaurant in the near vicinity would be more crucial to us than the selection of television channels or the availability of other entertainment or even gym facilities in the accommodation.

Of course, comfort has different meanings to different individual and as long as you think through what really matters to you to ensure a comfortable stay in the accommodation, the accommodation that can meet your comfort needs will certainly enhance your trip experience.

These three Cs considerations serve as a good starting point to determine the ideal travel accommodation option and if all else fails, there are still many options to choose from. What is important is that we do not hastily make a decision on our travelling accommodation but rather to choose one that best suits our needs for that particular trip!

An accommodation with a view like this would be good!
How about you? What are your considerations when it comes to choosing accommodations for your travels?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

#random_thoughts....... Dublin

· The Irish people really know how to work hard and party hard! :)

· Why do people like to grope the Molly Malone statue?...oh gosh...just leave the poor girl alone :(

· I have always wondered what inspired the construction of the Spire (the tall and sharp structure located along O’Connell street).....

· ...and also the Samuel Beckett Bridge, which looks like a interesting structure I would say :)

· People in Dublin are just nice!

· The street arts in Dublin are gorgeous!

· There is Guinness everywhere!