So I have a question for you guys. A very serious, potentially life-changing travel question. Ready?
How do you all deal with booking hotels/hostels/tents/homestays/floorspace and/or couches when traveling?
I’m being totally serious. I’ve been doing this whole independent travel thing for almost 8 years, and I still haven’t found the best answer.
When I first start backpacking all I cared about was money. I would stay in the cheapest, grimiest hostels out there in order to save a few euros or pesos for even more adventures.
Between couchsurfing, sleeping in airports and 16 bed dorm rooms on the outskirts of town, I was able to go further and travel for longer than I ever could have imagined. It was back in the pre-Tripadvisor days of internet cafes and ethernet cords, where I didn’t travel with a computer or smartphone, and my two options were either to book all my accommodation in advance on a public computer or just rock up in the city where I was visiting and hope the closest hostel was cheap and had space.
As I’m sure you can imagine this had a 50/50 chance of working out fine or blowing up in my face.
I almost exclusively used Hostelworld to book my sleeping arrangements since I was almost always in a hostel in a shared dorm room, but once I graduated college I realized sharing rooms with strangers absolutely SUCKS. For me, there was a time limit on that nonsense, and being kept awake by snorers, drunken fools and frisky one-night stands in shared rooms (never ok people!) no longer became remotely acceptable by the time I hit 22.
Broke and living in Spain teaching English, I was still as budget conscious as ever, only one thing had changed, I wanted private rooms and those hostel booking sites weren’t going to cut it anymore. More often than not, at least in Spain, a private room in a hostel was a lot more expensive than a private room in a small cheap hotel. Things had to change.
Those years I played around with different hotel booking sites and Airbnb while traveling around Spain and Europe, but I never was able to settle on a favorite site. I used to waste hours trying to book a place to stay on a trip, especially if I was traveling with friends. I’d have a million tabs open on my laptop comparing places, dates, locations, and prices only for my browser to crash and I’d have to start all over again. It was so frustrating!
I can’t even begin to explain how much I hate the hassle of trying to figure out where to stay!
I go through the same thing even now. My tastes have evolved again, and now I really enjoy staying in comfortable private rooms in all sorts of locations. My favorite are small boutique and quirky hotels and B&Bs and homestays for longer solo trips.
Most of the time now I just ring up where I want to stay and book over the phone after scouring reviews and prices online, but in a digital age and depending on where I am going, that’s not always possible, and frankly, it’s annoying.
So often I end up making a reservation on Booking.com for two reasons. One, it’s the main page I come back to the most and I’m most familiar with and the second is the app on my phone so I can look up places while I’m on the road, and sometimes I’ll just book the day of because I don’t like planning too far in advance.
However, I’ve stopped doing that this year when I realized that Booking.com does not have the best deals. As much as I love my comfortable rooms, I spend so much of my money on hotels, I want to get the best price. I also really dislike the Booking interface, the more recent “hurry, hurry, hurry only 2 rooms left!” on every single hotel in red and the couple of times I’ve had to deal with their customer service drive me nuts.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Why is this such a fucking mess? I just want a nice, clean private hotel room in a good location with working wifi for the best price, is that asking too much?
So when I was asked about checking out Yonderbound, a new hotel booking startup, my first response was HELL NO. I can’t even keep up with all of the hotel booking options out there, and they all give me nightmares. I need another one like I need a hole in my head.
Also if I had a dollar for every time I got an email from a startup company asking for a review, I wouldn’t have to worry about being cheap on my hotel stays.
But then I started to think, wait a minute Liz, you whine about this exact problem all the time, maybe this is the solution staring you in the face. So I decided to open my mind, had a little lookie and decided to give it a shot.
Everyone needs to book hotels, why not try something new?
YONDERBOUND from Yonderbound on Vimeo.
On my way home from Mongolia I stopped in Bali for 10 days for my first proper vacation in years in an effort to recoup and relax a bit before jumping back into the massive pile of work waiting for me back home in New Zealand.
Without agreeing to anything, I decided this was a good way to test out Yonderbound.
I am happy to report it exceeded expectations, and not only did it do everything I wanted with just one tab open, it also had features I didn’t realize I was missing. I also loved the interface.
Mindreading booking platforms, what is the world coming to?
You don’t need me to tell you all the things a hotel booking site does, just that if you travel, you need one.
I’ve shared with you all before the latest fads in the travel industry, like with Trover, so it’s that time again here. Yonderbound is still in beta and being developed and improved week to week. For me it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future.
But I thought I’d go ahead and spill the three points that sold me on Yonderbound and why I would be happy to use it again on my next trips.
Point number 1 – Yonderboxes
It’s like Pinterest for hotels and hostels.
You can create boards called Yonderboxes, saving hotels you are interested in in one place, categorizing them by theme or place, or whatever you want, really, with notes attached. AND it saves all of your search history in one place. Mindreading!
Gone are the days of 1 million Chrome tabs and spammy bookmarks I’ll never look at again!
I’ve gone ahead and created a couple of Yonderboxes to give you some ideas: The Best of New Zealand, Undiscovered Greece, and Iceland Challenge. Enjoy!
Point number 2 – it’s linked to Tripadvisor
IN THE SAME TAB!
Thank god! I love reading reviews about a place to stay specifically to see what other people think about it and how good the wifi is. Because let’s be honest here, there is nothing more annoying to someone who works on the road to pay a lot of money for a nice hotel that says it has free wifi only to get there and find out that it’s either 30 minutes of free wifi or wifi that doesn’t work.
And after traveling around Bali, I also found out reviews were also vital in knowing which homestays and hotels were well away from the crowing chickens at 4:30 in the morning.
Point number 3 – it’s cheaper than Booking
Have you ever heard of Yonderbound? Would you give it a try after reading this? How do you deal with booking accommodation for your travels? Has it ever been a hassle for you like it has for me?
**Some of these links are affiliate links.
38 Comments on “Yonderbound and the Evolution of Traveler Accommodation”
I’m with you on being over shared dorms. Will probably still have to stay in them for a while though, at least in the big cities where private accommodation is so expensive. It’s a shame private rooms in hostels are so much more expensive than an equivalent cheap hotel. Even if you don’t want to stay in shared dorms, you still want the common rooms and activities etc to meet other travellers. Do you find you still meet plenty of people staying in private accommodation?
It really depends on the city, I’ve found some great private room deals in places like Madrid. I used to stick to the private rooms in hostels for that exact reason, I still wanted the common room vibe and to meet people but now since I’m usually working on the road, I’m a bit over that. I find I still meet people in homestays or small b&bs or I just go out and join group activities, but for some reason this past year I’ve been feeling very distanced from the whole backpackers scene, I just can’t relate to it anymore :/
I keep hearing great buzz about yonderbound and look forward to using it once I get back to my computer! However, it seems to not be very compatible with Android devices, which makes me wary of using it when on the road. Anyone else having issues getting the site to work on your phone or tablet?
Haven’t tried on my phone, I think they will be launching an app soon!
I’ve never found one booking site that does everything I want. Different sites have different inventories in different locations. Sometimes a site like Booking will have the best deal other times Hotels.com or some other site will. And of course, Airbnb offers a different product altogether. I’ve never really been able to rely on just one site.
And Yonderbound doesn’t look any different in that regard. I pulled up a random hotel in Vietnam (Happy Hanoi) for the first week in December. Yonderbound quoted me a price of $300.05 for five nights in a superior double room whereas Agoda gave quoted me $268.58 for the same five nights in a superior double (both including taxes and fees). So it really does pay to check around.
Yonderbound also doesn’t seem to provide as much information as Bookings does on the actual room. Maybe I missed it, but on Yonderbound I can’t tell the difference between a Standard Double and a Superior Double other than the price. On sites like Bookings it tells me that one room is 237sqf vs. 152sqf, one has a refrigerator or a TV, etc. So even if Yonderbound has the best price, I’ll still need to check other sources to understand what exactly I’m booking.
Bummer, that’s definitely worth checking out. I had luck and each place I searched was always cheaper for me on Yonderbound. I think as they continue to develop it (it’s still in beta) more features and details will be added. Since I travel so much and spend so much time and money in hotels, I’m just happy to have a site where I can save them all and keep track together.
This is the first I’ve heard about Yonderbound… I’ll have to check it out
It’s a pretty cool new program, give it a try!