Welcome back to part three of my series on why you should go on at least one-holiday solo. The past two weeks I chatted about meeting new people and then having the freedom to not be held down by others decisions. This week is all about camping and staying in hostels and how doing so will be beneficial in the long run for your finances on a trip. I can be a bit tight when it is required and I feel I learned how to be better and disciplined with my money thanks to my trips which is just one of the many things I learned about myself. So let’s get into how I became better with my finances while away.
Everyone would love to be able to afford to stay in the best and most expensive places when they are on holiday. Usually, if you are going for a short trip or even a two week trip with someone, you are able to get a great place for a great price, but when travelling for longer that isn’t really a possibility. The necessity of having to become a little savvy with your money on where you stay and how much it will cost you in the long run of the trip. With camping and hostelling, it is known for being very cheap and almost all travellers who travel for a large amount of time do so the main reason is because it is cheap! But, you might be a bit nervous about doing one or the other, so let me tell you why you should If the option is presented to you.
Camping can be your friend
For example for my time in Venice, I stayed at Camping Jolly Village which was just off the island in Marghera. The reason I chose this site to stay than on the island is that I knew I had to last another 4 weeks without going crazy and August in Italy is also when a lot of Italians take their holidays so campsites are at a premium. To break this down a little more I stayed in a cabin that was made from a canvas type material with a metal frame. Very modest, but it had all the things I needed, which was a light and bed. The campsite had a shop and a restaurant as well as a bar. It had enough for me to enjoy if I was spending the evening there, but it was also close enough to Venice where I could get there and back safely.
I estimate it was around a 15-minute walk to the train to get back onto the island, which isn’t bad at all to me. Yes, there were campsites that were nicer and with beaches, but these went up in price quite considerably when you realised you were staying for a number of nights. Add in the fact that their restaurants weren’t cheap either then it does mount up. Being that little bit out of Venice meant I had a nice walk in and it meant I could see and eat and experience things with people from the area more than the touristy parts. I would buy fruit from the grocers on the walk into Venice and one time they had an open cinema night and as I was on my way back to the campsite I decided to stay for a bit. Little things like this made it a great decision. But the main aim was to save money and I did.
Camping in Iceland was a bit different, as you know if you read the previous posts, I mostly camped and my first night was a late arrival, accommodation a mere 50 feet away in the hostel was 5 times as expensive. In the said campsite in Reykjavik I was paying £8 a night for camping and because I was getting along with others we would also then share the money for dinners, which obviously saved a fair few pennies in the long run. This continued the whole way around the island and honestly, I believe I made my meagre budget for a month go a good while further just by camping instead of using the hostel. But when it came to September in Iceland I found I had little choice to move to hostels as the weather really took a turn for the normal (for me, I am Irish after all).
Hostels can be a lifesaver
As mentioned the weather took a turn in Iceland and one morning I awoke to find that my tent was practically floating and it felt like I was sleeping on a waterbed due to the water sneaking into the ground. I knew I had to find a hostel and as it was near the end of my holiday I knew I had to be a tiny bit more disciplined with my money before an option of splashing out came around. I moved into a hostel and maybe it was pure chance, but as it had dipped into September I must have got a bit of a discount as I was in a top class hostel and only paid £69 for the last 3 nights and that included my breakfast. So £23 a night for a great hostel was pretty awesome for me! As the weather got worse I realised how wise a decision It was for me to move indoors, I think my tent would have been in trouble if I had stayed where I was.
What I liked about hostels was that there was almost always a bed somewhere, for hotels a hotel will sell out rooms, but I found it was rare to find every bed gone. But with that said, I knew the bad weather was coming but I risked staying in my tent for a few more days so I could spend my money on things that I knew would enjoy. By being focused and letting myself stick through a few nights of wind and rain, I was able to treat myself on a say a great dinner, or an excursion that maybe I would not have paid for because I was already in a hostel. I felt invigorated for knowing that I can cope with things and keep with my plan and that it was only when the weather became extremely poor that I knew I had to change. But for the price, you get a hostel for is great.
The only sacrifice I really had to give up in staying in a hostel was that I was sharing a room with complete strangers, depending on where I was and how busy that city or town was, this ranged from sharing with between 5 and 18 people. For the most part, I was able to make friends with my roommates and it was usually my bunkmate or my neighbours. If you like your privacy then you might have to pay more for a room with fewer people, but for me to have a bed from camping for a couple of weeks. I was more than happy to have my own little bed, I didn’t care about those around me. Plus as I showed with Reykjavik I paid £23 a night for a 12 person room and I felt so comfortable around that many. I may not have spoken to all of the residents, but I always felt safe.
I figured out that overall on my Iceland trip that I spent approximately £300 on accommodation, which I think is nothing for almost a month. If I had stayed in a hostel every night that would have gone towards closer to £750 that is a hell of a saving for a solo traveller. I can think of a thousand things that, that money could go for me. In Italy, I saved around £350 as I stayed mostly in Guesthouses and Hostels as I had limited places for camping.
If you are worried about staying in a hostel and being around so many people, I would love to say that you are being silly and that there are never any issues, but obviously, sometimes there are incidents. I never experienced any, but I did research all of my accommodations thoroughly on multiple websites and from other travellers while I was there. If you have more time, definitely do your research, but do not say no to hostels just because you think it might be dangerous for you just because it is cheap. I made sure the places I stayed were safe and if you are female there are female only rooms too! But for the money you are saving it is very much worth it, plus as I said there are great bonuses to living in a hostel! But I will talk about that in a later post!
With camping, it is great if you know you are venturing away from cities as you get to see some great things and yes the facilities might be basic, but you are not there for having a lovely high-pressure shower. You are there for the experience and if you are saving money to use on bettering the experiences then I feel that is the main thing and that is where the discipline comes in. If you are willing to sacrifice a few home comforts then you are set to better your overall experience.
I hope I made some of my thoughts clear on being a bit more disciplined with your money while away, but this is only part one of two on being better and focused with money as next week I will get into staying at Guesthouses and how it is possible to stay in Hotels for very cheap, but that is for another day as I have already taken up enough of your time for today!