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Old 03-04-2008, 03:14 PM   #1
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Default hostel booking: keep your options open

this is more for those folks looking to head to Europe this summer and not book ahead for hostels.
Dont stress out about booking ahead doing it is great but if you dont get one done dont sit on the train for 4 hours to wherever you are going worrying about where you are gonna sleep. I reccomend a few things

1. Festivals and events totaly book ahead or else you better hope to meet a friendly local who will put you up....hey it happens

2. If you do just roll up and hit a hostel and its booked instead of saying thanks and heading out the door get them to call other places to see if they have vacancy. If not then ask where other hotels are since they always know about each other and where they are located it sure beats walking around aimlessly.

3. If you plan on partying or spending a weekend in cities like A-dam, Rome, Paris, Barcelona etc... and you dont book ahead, then do all you can to make it there by no latter then Thursday afternoon. The sooner the better, since hostel beds in these places ALWAYS fill up over the weekend, besides it takes 3 or 4 days to really appreciate these larger cities anyways. And if you just roll up on friday night I guarentee your sleeping on a park bench.

4. have a little extra money budgeted for cheap 1 or 2 star hotels, they are the equivilent of paying for a private room in a hostel 50 Euros a night maybe, for a room with 2 singles but if there are 2 of you then its only 25 a night, IN FACT!!!!! SOMETIMES these can be cheaper then such hostels as the flying pig in Adam, Hostels with a serious good reputation know they got it and they arnt cheap anymore ppl.

5. For small but popular towns, totaly book ahead, if these places only have 2 or 3 hostels and 2 trains coming in and out a day only then you really dont wanna get stuck there overnight without a bed cause you run out of options faster then you would in say Berlin. You cant even catch a night train outta these places. Mark my words they will bite you in the ass and you dont even see it coming. Usualy the hostels only have maybe 4 beds just tiny little places, but because its so damn popular just popping up on the backpacker trail maybe everyone flocks!

6. If all else fails dont get discouraged, usualy train startions and even better air ports are open 24 hours and you can find a quiet safe place to crash for the night, I did this lots and never had an issue....Heck I even slept on the beaches in spain for 2 weeks on a inflatable 2 man rubber boat I bought for 15 euros it was the greatest time ever. Only rained once. So dont get down on yourself and panic there is always somewherre to crash

7. Expect the hostels in the lonely planet to be full thats where everyone goes first. If they are roll up into a Internet cafe and check out Hostelworld.com or somethhing like that becuase they usualy have a better selection then lonley planet and the ones that are not in lonely planet are usualy always vacant! so dont dispare just hjead to a e-cafe!

8. And last but not least never forget about the night trains and sleeper cars!

Alright guys have a good time this upcoming summer and like I said dont freak out about where you are gonna sleep that will be the last of your problems if you follow my advice!!
Cheers and have fun
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:03 PM   #2
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Great advice dude

One more tip - sometimes it's worth booking your trains in advance too, especially for the longer train trips or ones to popular distinations, because they can certainly be booked out too. If you can't get a ticket for your desired train ride then I wouldn't advise just jumping one, they have A LOT of ticket inspectors over there.

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Heck I even slept on the beaches in spain for 2 weeks on a inflatable 2 man rubber boat
Hahaha, that's awesome!!
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Old 03-04-2008, 06:33 PM   #3
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Thanks! I want to leave things somewhat open-ended and have been figuring I would try to make on-line bookings a couple of days in advance while I am on the road. These tips are great. Thanks again =)

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Old 03-04-2008, 09:31 PM   #4
 
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great info, thats alot of help and makes me feel real good to know of the adventures that lie ahead!
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Old 03-05-2008, 05:52 AM   #5
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I never had the option of booking ahead because of the lack of a credit card. I used to spend some time on the day or two before I left one city looking for hostel numbers (not always as easy as it sounds) in the next city, then when I'm on the train to that city I'd ring them looking for somewhere to stay. It nearly always worked.
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Old 03-05-2008, 02:40 PM   #6
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Nice tips, bro!


Me personally, I hate wasting time "searching" in general for anything, especially when I am on the road since my travels are always time sensitive.

For example, in Lisbon, Lagos, and Sevilla, my friend and I spent some serious time walking all over looking for a places that had availability for both of us to stay.

When we finally got into our own rooms, I was like "dude, let's meet up in a few hours cuz I am beat."

Had we booked ahead in those places, we would have not wasted some serious daylight hours for exploring the cities and nearby towns.

Now, I am not saying to book ahead all of the time, I am saying that if you don't want to waste time and want to maximize your day, then plan those things ahead of time, at least the first day or two in every city and ESPECIALLY when there are events as you mentioned. IMHO .


Thanks, Will !
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Old 03-05-2008, 02:57 PM   #7
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FYI for booking early in some of those cities in which that big soccer championship will be in.... My first weekend in Europe I was planning on spending it in Zürich but then it turns out there's a big soccer game there and I didn't wanna spend my time in an already expensive country that would surely be packed chock full of assholes.

Anyway to get back to my point, when I still planned on doing Zürich anyway, I called several months ahead of time to book and they basically said that even though there was a room open and I could book now, they couldn't give me an exact rate b/c of the whole soccer world cup whatever game going on and the rate would "fluctuate". So I was not interested in paying 50+ euros for a damn room, so I decided to take my happy ass elsewhere.

So for all you summer Euro travelers, might wanna check out where those games are going to be (I think it's just June but I could be wrong).
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Old 03-05-2008, 03:40 PM   #8
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Most accommodations will have a certain amount of rooms alotted for online reservations and those rates should be honored, much like discount airfares and hotel sites (The Hilton, Holiday Inn, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotels.com, etc...)

I would try online first, then call.
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Old 03-09-2008, 12:52 PM   #9
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I am trying to plan an extensive trip to Europe for this summer and my friends have been telling me because summer months are extremely busy - booking hostels ahead of time is very important.

However, I don't like the idea of rolling on a set itinerary - I would like to not know where I was going to be in 4 weeks, 2 weeks kind of thing.
My idea is to do rolling planning... AKA plan my first 2-3 weeks there, and then book ahead (1-2 weeks ahead). Is this a feasible plan for summer travelling? I am commitment phobic - so having my entire summer mapped out for me is kind of scary.

Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2008, 05:10 PM   #10
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A rolling plan would probably be the best way. On my first backpacking trip I booked the first week in advance, then booked subsequent hostels a couple of days in advance. This was in Eastern Europe though, in touristy parts of Western Europe it's probably safest to book a week ahead if possible, or take a tent with you .
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:31 PM   #11
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hey guys thanks for filling in the ones I missed there!! Great advice flying around on this one.. And I totaly forgot that it is the soccer championsships....However although its only the Euro its mostly only gonna be Europeans attending and not toooo many internationals as say the world cup, I was in Germany during the world cup didnt have trouble finding a place to stay and the parties were awesome lol !!
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:53 PM   #12
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i traveled all around europe solo for a good while, never booked a hostel in advance and never had a problem getting a place. however i recently went on a short trip with my girlfriend and discovered that it is a lot harder to get a place for a couple, especially if you are looking for a private room. and nothing sucks more than walking from hostel to hostel all over the city getting turned out of places to stay with a very tired irish girl. so if you are going as a couple it is really worth booking a few days in advance.
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:54 AM   #13
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I always just book the first and second night in the city I fly into, to save hassel.. then I always just show up and see what the deal is. I do try to travel out of peak periods though. My trip to Adelaide and Melbourne in a couple weeks is TOTALLY out of peak times.
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Old 04-10-2008, 06:11 AM   #14
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If you're really stuck, a cheap but reliable hotel option is the Formule 1/Etap chain. It's more expensive than a hostel, unless you're sharing with one or two people. Formule 1 are cheaper (usually around 30 Euro/per room in big cities, less in smaller ones), and have a shared bath in the hall. They generally have a double/single bunk, so if you're traveling with one or two others, it can work out as cheap as a hostel. Etap are a little more expensive (we've stayed in several, ranging from about 35 Euro in Vienna and Salzburg, to 40 or so in Paris, to 50 in central Antwerp). They have double/single bunks and in-room bathrooms, which when you travel with four kids is a definite plus.

The chain is French and there are about a dozen Etaps in Paris, cheaper the further out you go - ours was 43 Euro a night, and about a 10 minute walk from the metro, about 10 more minutes into central Paris. The ones closer in fill up faster and are more expensive, but in our experience, all the hotels are easy to reach by public transit, though they're not always in the most scenic areas - more likely industrial parks on the outskirts of town. DON'T get the breakfast, it's a total rip-off.

As far as we could tell, there aren't any Etaps or Formule 1s in Italy, but that may have changed since last time we were there.

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Old 04-10-2008, 08:00 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tumblezweedz
If you're really stuck, a cheap but reliable hotel option is the Formule 1/Etap chain.
Along the same lines as them hotels is Travel lodge or premier inn. Their popular in Ireland and the UK. They are usually located on motorways or just outside the centre of major cities. They do family rooms where you pay for the room rather than per person. Their well set up for what they are, you get all the basics but their as dull as donuts. They tend to be full of suits or truckers and are really just somewhere comfortable to sleep for the night.
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