Hi there! Welcome back to the Autistic Travel Coach. If you have followed this series of blog posts, you have your travel bucket list, a general idea of the type of travel you may enjoy, and your top picks for transportation options.
It’s time to select your lodging and accommodation!
Consider the following as you weigh your options and decide what type of lodging will be best for you.
- Do you like to be alone or can you share a room or house with others?
- How difficult is it for you to adjust to being away from home?
- Would you prefer to be pampered or left alone?
- Can you handle somewhat excessive noise when you sleep?
- Do you enjoy meeting and/or eating with new people?
- Do you like sleeping outdoors or indoors?
- Do you like to be with animals?
- Do you mind having some responsibility while you travel?
- How big is your budget?
You don’t have to stay at the same place for your entire trip if you don’t want to, even if you are staying in the same place for a long time. If you don’t mind being uprooted for a bit, you can try out a few different types of accommodations to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
Here are some of your options.
If you like being pampered with room service, spa, massage, etc. when you travel, a hotel is your best bet. But if your budget is on the small to moderate side, this may not be the best option, especially if you need your own room, like I do. It also may not be the best option if you have a hard time adjusting to being away from home. A hotel doesn’t feel anything like your home, unless maybe you are insanely wealthy.
If you can do without the pampering and you prefer a room of your own, a motel may work for you. If you choose this option, stay at a chain place as often as possible and read reviews first. I stay at motels often, and in my experience, the good ones are rated around 3 out of 5 stars or higher. You won’t see much higher ratings for motels and even the good places typically have one or two really bad reviews from folks who are more accustomed to hotels. If a motel is rated less than 2.5 stars out of 5 and/or has a high ratio of bad to good reviews, you probably want to avoid it.
A motel will definitely be better for your budget than a hotel. I typically get a place for $50-$70 in medium-sized urban centers and pay a little more in big cities. Some key things to look for when booking a motel is whether the doors open to the outside or to an inner hallway. I have stayed in both but am definitely more comfortable with a door that opens into the building’s hallway rather than the parking lot. Also look for a place that serves a free continental breakfast, has coffee available throughout the day, and has free Wi-Fi in the rooms.
Like a hotel, you may not feel at home. For a room that resembles an efficiency apartment, try Extended Stay America, which has rooms that are basically small furnished apartments. I wouldn’t recommend any other extended stay motel.
You may not be as comfortable in a motel as you are in a hotel, but you will have more privacy and save a significant amount of money. I have felt pretty comfortable at most of the motels where I’ve stayed.
Staying in a hostel is far less expensive than a hotel, especially if you stay in a dorm. I have stayed in the dorms on occasion and it wasn’t too bad because I was with a friend, but I wouldn’t do it again. Most people who stay in the dorms are in their 20s to early 30s. Hostels are places where backpackers gather to meet other travelers from around the world and usually get really drunk together, so hostels can get really loud. Some nights your ear plugs won’t even block everything out.
The plus side of hostels is if you are in a new place and want to get some tips on what is worth seeing, how to save money, learn about some tours that aren’t listed on TripAdvisor and other travel sites, share stories with other travelers, and find out about the best Airbnb or apartments in the area, a hostel is the place to be. If you are staying at your destination for a month or more, I recommend starting at a hostel.
The good news is you can book a private room in most hostels, although you may not have your own in-room bathroom and shower. You will not save money with a private room, but if the dorms sound like a terrible idea, definitely pay the extra money for your own room. It will be worth it in the long run to preserve your mental energy and health when staying in hostels.
You may feel more at home in a hostel because it will have a common area with books and places to share a meal with other travelers. There will be a kitchen where you can keep your own food in the refrigerator and prepare home cooked meals, which will be better for your health and your budget!
Check out Hostel World to find a hostel that works for you.
Although there is a lot of variety on Airbnb, I love it specifically for the places that combine the comforts and privacy of home with the price of motel. You can search for a whole place to yourself or a private room, which is typically less expensive than the whole place, but like a private room in a hostel, will likely require you to share a cooking space and bathroom with others. You also have an option to sleep on someone’s couch or otherwise share a space, but if you are going to do that, you might as well couch surf.
I stayed at an awesome tiny house when I was in Austin last year and loved it! It was not much more than the private rooms and I had a lot more privacy. I’ve seen more and more tiny houses listed on Airbnb and they often provide the best value.
I’ll be staying in a private room near Sydney later this year. This will be my first experience with a private room on Airbnb (rather than the whole place). If you feel more comfortable, definitely look for a room that you can lock. I definitely don’t like the idea of people being able to come into my room, not because I don’t trust them, but because it creates an obligation to socialize, whether I want to or not.
Airbnb is a perfect option if you have a small to moderate budget and want a place that feels more like home.
Bed and Breakfast
Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) feel more like home than a hotel with more privacy than a hostel or Airbnb. The price typically falls between a higher end motel and a hotel but on the high end, they can be as expensive as the fancier hotels. The breakfast is usually served family style at a specific time each morning. You may have an opportunity to meet other travelers but will have fewer implied social obligations than you will in a hostel.
A B&B can be as quirky as its owner(s). My favorite experience was in Ushuaia, Argentina, where I stayed in a B&B while on a study abroad. An old, friendly, fat man served us burned toast and coffee at 7am every morning and we eventually realized that all of our keys worked in every one of the bedroom doors.
You should look into B&Bs as an option as a step up from hostels, especially if you are looking for something that feels more familiar than a hotel.
This has been my favorite option this year. For $119 per year you can apply to do free housesitting for people all over the world. I stayed for a week in someone’s condo in Columbus and took care of two cats and a small dog, which covered my membership cost and then some.
The idea behind TrustedHousesitters and other housesitting platforms is that travelers looking for a place to stay can connect with travelers looking for someone to stay with their pets while they are away. One traveler gets a free place to stay and the other saves the stress and cost of having to put their beloved pets in the kennel. You can really find some unique opportunities here if you have experience with livestock, love reptiles, etc. I’ll be sticking with cats and dogs, myself.
It can be competitive to get house sits in popular destinations like Paris and London, so if you are just getting started, try doing some housesits close to home to boost your positive reviews. I did a couple in my home town to get reviews and my next gig is near Melbourne, where I will be staying for free for a month while I take care of two adorable pugs.
Personally, I have never tried couchsurfing, so I can’t comment too much. I know someone on the spectrum who has couchsurfed and enjoyed it. Social expectations can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a private room. With couchsurfing in particular (compared to Airbnb) there seems to be an unwritten obligation to be an extrovert, although that is my opinion that I am basing on a few interactions with hosts on the platform. Others may feel differently. It’s difficult to tell the extent to which a stranger understands the needs of Autistic people. The host may feel offended if you don’t want to be shown around town right away, if you don’t want to go out to the club, or if you spend a lot of time alone. It may be best to talk to your prospective host ahead of time about your Autism, or at least about your need for alone time, so you can (hopefully) avoid the stress of being peer-pressured and having to say no over and over again.
You can camp pretty much everywhere in the world. There are places where you can just sleep out in the open in your sleeping bag or pitch a tent for free, and some places where you have to pay for a campsite. This can cost as much as a motel, but if you enjoy camping, then go ahead!
Check out campspace for micro camping spots. Hosts make their property available all over the world to camp, often for a very low price. There are some unique places to camp that you will never find at a commercial campground.
If tent camping is roughing it a bit too much for your taste, try renting an RV through an RV sharing site like RVshare.com, where you can rent an RV for as little as $9.47 a day.
For the “glampers” who need a little more luxury, there are a lot of modern cabins that provide the feel of camping with the amenities of a hotel. Search for the perfect cabin at glamping.com.
There are plenty of other options that I haven’t yet experienced, like:
If you have information about any of these options, or any others I may have forgot, please share with our community in the comments.
Take some time to think about your needs, consider these different options, explore a little online, and decide the best type of lodging for your top three bucket list destinations. It’s good to put some thought into where you want to stay because it can set the tone for your trip but remember that it’s easy to change your mind before you book your trip, so you don’t have to overthink it right now. Nothing is set in stone, even after you book.
Good luck, and please contact me if you have any questions at AutisticTravelCoach@gmail.com.