Planning accommodations while traveling and not breaking the bank can be difficult and stressful. I had absolutely no idea what to look for or what to avoid when it came to a place to sleep on my trips. Luckily, I learned from experience and am here to help!
I only stayed in hostels and Airbnb’s, no hotels, so I have had quite a few distinct experiences. You really need to figure out what you are most comfortable with and go from there.
I’m going to start off by talking about Hostels. I used hostelworld.com to easily look up and compare hostels. I can do a more detailed post about what to look for in hostels, but the first few things you need to look at are location and price, then room availability. If you’re traveling alone, it’s probably best to spend the extra money for an all women or all men room for safety and peace of mind. Really, it’s more peace of mind. I’ve never had an issue! Hostels are basically hotels (at least the European ones) where you share a room with other people and may have to pay add on fees for things like towels or breakfast. However, they are relatively cheap and are truly not scary!
Airbnb is another option that I would suggest using for longer trips. With Airbnb, you are renting a room or renting an entire apartment or house from a person. There are no company or chain Airbnbs, just generally pleasant people looking to make a few extra bucks and share their city. On Airbnb.com, you can see comments and reviews of people as well as photos of the location. Most of the time, you have access to a kitchen and other general living space. Location, price, and reviews are important on this one as well. Also, for safety, I would suggest using Airbnb with a buddy. The experience at Airbnbs feels a lot more like you are a local. I loved the one we stayed in in PARIS (a loft apartment built in the 1500s).
Those are the two housing options I used and would recommend for traveling while abroad. As always, feel free to comment with questions!