Accommodation For Travellers: Finding It

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Finding accommodation as you travel (budget to free being hardest) is a huge topic and one that is mentioned all over this website, but you, and I, need one post to put everything on the same page. Finding a place to stay, be it a hotel, guest house, hostel, apartment, caravan, mud hut or longboat is often the hardest part of travel and if you have a family, particularly a large one, it gets harder still.

We are all different, my palace may be your prison, we all have different needs and wants out of our accommodation when we travel. I’m aiming this at a complete travel beginner (as we all were, once upon a time) so excuse me if I start at the very beginning with how to find accommodation for travellers and how to find the best possible deal.

We’ll start by looking at types of accommodation and where to find them. Our destination-specific accommodation guides are listed below. More are in production. Please leave a comment below, where do you want a guide for?

Finding Family Accommodation in: BangkokBudapestCardiffLondon, Mirissa ( Sri Lanka). Kuala Lumpur, Malacca.

Accommodation Options, Budget or Otherwise

All of the below, we’ve used in the last few years, just to give you an idea of what accommodation is possible for families. Where to find these places? Well dozens of booking engines exist, we find it’s simpler to just pick a favourite and stick to it, comparing every site wastes your time and the savings are negligible.

Booking comparison sites claim to do this for you, they find search for the cheapest available deal from a bunch of different booking engines. However, we prefer to go direct to Agoda, or even AirBnb occasionally. In our experience, when cross-checking prices, we’ve found Agoda or to be cheaper on the same room.

You always need to check carefully for child (under a certain age) stays free deals too.

The booking sites we use are Agoda ( for Asia usually, they are Asia-based specialists) and (for everywhere else, usually). Agoda is now owned by so often an Agoda search will end up taking you to a booking.

In the USA we swear by Priceline for finding last-minute deals, but by last minute I mean hours, not days.

We never book direct with hotels, we find it’s a lot more hassle and often more expensive, surprisingly. We like the security and customer service of these big booking engines.

For long-term travellers it’s not unreasonable to just turn up in a town and go door-knocking to find a room you like at a good price. We do this often, even with kids, in parts of Asia.


AirBnb allows you to rent private homes, with the reassurance of a reputable company backing your arrangements. Whether you’re looking for a room in a homestay, a granny flat, a yurt, a long boat or a whole private apartment, you’ll find something on AirBnb.

You can also find hotels, hostels and buy-to-rent properties on AirBnb along with private houses. It’s a great idea to rent out your home, or a room within it, through this company, we’ve done it ourselves with great results.

Sign up to join AirBnB, as a landlord or as a guest., it’s free. It’s always worth trying to negotiate with AirBnb owners, particularly if you’re looking for a longer-term booking.

Airbnb does have cleaning fees on top of the price shown. These can be really annoying and we find this platform can be pretty expensive. You can, however, negotiate with owners sometimes.


Paradise Resort and Spa Dining and Reception
A beautiful resort hotel in central Sri Lanka

This is where you want to stay for a self contained holiday, the sort of place you don’t have to leave unless you want to do a little sightseeing. Expect pools, restaurants, swim-up bars, shops, activites, entertainment and spas all on site. It’s great to vacation like this sometimes and we’ve sampled our fair share of resort living.


villa in Umbria
A beautiful family farm-stay villa in Umbria, Italy

Luxury full service villas with your own chef and staff are divine ( check out our stay at Max Wadiya villa, Sri Lanka), but villas can also be ultra affordable (Villa Balapitya, Sri Lanka was such). They are a fantastic choice for families, offering space, a homely feel and seclusion on your vacation.

Hotels and Motels

paradise resort and spa garden room
A luxury hotel in Sri Lanka

Hotels can be ultra budget to sky’s-the-limit luxury. Some offer no frills, so include breakfast, maybe dinner too. The facilities on-site and in your room will vary enormously and the star system isn’t a good indicator when comparing internationally. The stars a hotel claims refer to facilities, but the facilities required vary by country. Some hotels have private bathrooms, a few have shared.


hostel with kids
A family hostel room in Malaysia

I think people have the wrong idea with hostels, imagining wall-to-wall drunken teens and dormitory life. Those hostels exist, for sure, but I’ve never stayed in one.

I think people also imagine that all backpackers stay in hostels. We don’t. In the last 3.5 years I can count the number of hostels we’ve used on one hand and they’ve all been great.

Why don’t we, as family travellers, use hostels more often? Because they’re less abundant than cheap hotels and guest houses and because they work out more expensive for families because each child normally pays the full adult price.

We also don’t like paying for towels, which is very rare in hostels, but does still happen occasionally.

Most hostels have dormitories but also smaller rooms, for 2, for 4, for 6, some with private, some with shared bathroom facilities. Hostels with family rooms can be a great option for travellers like us but be sure to compare price with nearby hotels or guest houses.

Hostels normally have shared kitchen facilities of various levels of cleanliness and a lot of folk use them because they like to eat cheap. Our finding is that food is so cheap in most parts of SouthEast Asia that we eat out 3 times a day. In Europe, the UK or the USA this gets too expensive.

Guest Houses

Mirissa family room
A fairly typical guest house room in Sri Lanka

Many small hotels, particularly in Asia, are called guest houses. They can be converted family homes or purpose-built structures. Most of the time, in fact, we stay in guest houses.

Apartment Hotels 

Certain destinations are bursting with apartment hotels, notably Dubai and parts of London. These can be a sensational option for families because they normally include more than one bedroom and a kitchen with washing machine.

The whole complex will also normally have facilities such as dining, gyms, swimming pools and concierge services. We like these a lot and they’d be great for a holiday, but obviously, for long-term travel, price means we only use them from time to time.

Apartment and Home Rentals

AirBnB for families London
A private family apartment rental through AirBnb in London

Private apartments and houses are easier to find these days thanks to AirBnb. We’ve found family apartment rentals at below hotel prices from time to time, usually in more expensive destinations. We’re currently using one in London that is costing us less than a long term private rental we took last year. Of course, the price includes utilities and wi-fi.

In our village in Romania we rent an entire home, arranged locally, a whole month costs us about the same as 2 nights in London.

Huts, Tents, Caravans, Cabins and Yurts

Hungary accommodation
Cute Cabins on a lake in Hungary

Anything and everything is possible in the world of family accommodation. The cabins above were on a beautiful swimming lake in Hungary, but we’ve stayed in similar on beaches in Thailand. Places like these are also on the main booking engines and AirBnb.

Other Ways of Finding Accommodation for Travellers: FREE

You could try house sitting, house swapping, volunteering or working in exchange for board. You need this post on travelling for free if these options appeal to you. Couchsurfing is a popular option and some people even manage to couch surf with kids or a family. We’ve hosted couchsurfers but we’ve never couchsurfed ourselves, it really doesn’t appeal.

Does this post start to de-mystify where we travellers stay when we travel? It’s part of that old mantra, travelling is cheaper than staying home, that most people just can’t believe. We’ve stayed in hotels and guest houses from just $12 per night for a family of 4. Your accommodation doesn’t need to be expensive. We’ve also had to pay several hundred dollars per night in Singapore, Australia and Japan. Choose your destinations and accommodation style to suit your budget. Speed through the expensive places, stay longer in the bargain budget locations. Enjoy your travel your way.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

13 thoughts on “Accommodation For Travellers: Finding It”

  1. I always like how comprehensive you are in your Blog, very detailed. This is more of a book than a Blog.

  2. I could definitely see how a hotel or motel could be a good way to way to find a place to stay in any budget. I like the idea of traveling more, but I don’t have a ton of money to spend. I should look into getting a hotel or motel that would be in a price range that would allow me to take vacations more often.

  3. I’m trying to find some accommodation that I can afford on a budget. I think the various options that I can have for my vacation makes me want to lean on lodgings instead. When you said that villas are a fantastic choice for families, it made me think that mountain lodges are its equivalent so I might be able to stay in something as luxurious as that for my trip with my nieces.

  4. We have been travelling Africa and Europe for 9 months and will be heading to USA east coast for Oct/Nov on way home to Aus. I see your comment about Priceline last minute and taking faith as we have been quite amazed we don’t seem to be able to stick to our USD50 budget per night which has worked a treat in Africa and Europe. NYC, Washington and Florida have been hard to find 3 month advance bookings in our budget. With the Priceline search engine you can’t wntwr number of kids and adults so how do you determine what suits 4 people as a room? Any help with using Priceline optimally would be much appreciated since AirBnB doesn’t seem to be hero for price that is was in Africa, Europe.

    • NYC and Washington were both majorly expensive. Other than those two ( $150 and $65 approx respectively) we managed at around $50 for the Us, sometimes sub $40. I think what we did with Priceline was just assume that all American hotels/motels have 2 double beds. It’s pretty standard and perfect for families. I do remember this issue though, unfortunately I can’t remember and my husband isn’t home. If he has anything to add to this later I’ll get back to you. In Florida we got a great deal in a big hotel, breakfast included, sub $50 and also in a motel. We didn’t struggle there. We very rarely use AirBnb, we generally head straight for Agoda or Booking dot com and if they don’t work out, try Priceline.

      • Thanks Alyson and so use Agoda, and Priceline more in same day as booking required than booking days/ months in advance? Yes we thinkin/seeing NYC will be about $150 in Manhattan . And any tips for eating in US as family like petrol stations etc to stick to $50 daily food budget there as we’ve mostly used self catering in Europe? Appreciate your comments.

        • My husband said the same. We just assumed 2 double beds per room, sometimes checking other sites on that hotel to see room pictures and confirm this. Priceline is a last minute booking site, yes. We literally booked rooms while sitting outside in the hotel car park, way cheaper than their rack rate. We very rarely book in advance, maybe you can get better deals, maybe not. We just drove until we wanted to stop in the US, very little planning went into it. Food was tricky. Always stay at a hotel or motel with breakfast, the food is pretty dire, but coffee and at least something in the morning helps. We bought things like hummus, bread and fruit in supermarkets, got pizza, used motorway fast food joints. Every road has plenty of roadside dining and regular pit stop opportunities. It’s not health food but it gets you by. Remember that portions are ridiculously huge, so a starter will do as a main, 2 mains will do for 4 and so on.

          • Great thank you. Your guys $50 a day research was what gave us the idea our year long trip was possible and so far it has been. Good to clarify USA as it was becoming a concern trying to book ahead.

            • I don’t think we did the USA on anything close to $50 / day, I think it was a lot more. Don’t think we were really budgeting at all by then. Once we left Asia we just spent what we felt like spending and the average for the whole year came in at under $100 / day.

              • Understood, we doing $50 for food and $50 for accommodation. So $100 total. It’s been a blast for past 6 months.

  5. I agree there are lots of family accommodation options available.I know going with kids is exceptionally challenging, so you need to choose a perfect accommodation for your family.

  6. When you travel with family and kids so you have to Check out what facilities are available at the accommodation for your kids and family. Travelling with children you may find challenges ,So selecting an ideal accommodation for your family.

  7. Thanks for the post Alyson! I agree there are a lot of family accommodation options to try, hotels are nice and can be budget friendly depending on your destination but staying on cabins or villas is really different. You will feel more relaxed because you are closer to nature. It’s like having some of kind of inner peace that can’t be described in words. Great post!


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