Hostelworld: Best site for finding reliable lodging on a budget

Hostelworld.com is the only tool I use to search for and book hostels. It has everything I need wrapped up into one convenient website. And they offer more than just hostel bookings. On the site, you can book campsites, tours, group hotel rooms and more. Plus they show you the reviews and ratings right on the page.

HOW IT WORKS

Similar to other sites, when you first visit the site, you’re prompted to enter the location, dates and type of accommodation you’re looking for:  Hostels  Bed and Breakfasts  Hotels  Apartments  Campsites.
About 4 out of 5 times, I search only for hostels, but sometimes I find that I can get a better deal at a bed and breakfast or budget hotel.

Hostelworld’s directory consists of 35,000 properties in 180 countries. Once you search, you’re presented with a list of hits that you can arrange by price, rating, availability or name. Most of the hostels have hundreds of reviews. Typically, I don’t give too much heed to reviews, since everyone has different standards, but these are pretty useful. In total, there are over 3.5 million guest reviews, according to the site.

WHY IT ROCKS

Along with reviews, Hostelworld provides general information, facility descriptions, rates, and even a map with directions for how to get to the hostel. They give you everything you need to make an informed decision on where you want to stay. Then, they have sample itineraries, local guides, Hostelworld events and a travel blog where Hostel World staffers write about awesome deals, travel tips and adventure spots.

hostelworld

Once you book, Hostelworld does the processing. For most hostels, you only have to pay a booking fee, then pay the rest once you arrive. So, if something comes up, you’re not losing all of your money. Plus, they have occasional deals and sweepstakes for extra savings. They even offer a 100% booking guarantee:

“It’s very unlikely that something will go wrong with your booking. In fact we’re so confident, that if your booking details cannot be found at check-in, we’ll credit your account with your full deposit and an additional $50 towards future bookings” (http://www.hostelworld.com/guarantee).

So basically,

I love Hostelworld.

StudentUniverse: my go-to site for cheap flights

I cannot speak more highly of StudentUniverse. It’s absolutely my favorite resource for finding the best deals on flights. The company is a Boston-based travel agency focused on providing college students with discounts on flights, hotels, tours, activities and rail.

HOW IT WORKS

Before you can access the deals on the site, you have to create an account using your school’s or institution’s information to verify your status as student. Once StudentUniverse’s technology confirms your status, it connects you to hundreds of companies offering discounted products and services to StudentUniverse customers.

The company has over 65 major airline partners, including American Airlines, United Airways, Virgin America, British Airways, AirFrance, Jet Airways and numerous others. It’s travel company partners include the following:

Travel Guard Rail Europe HostelBookers G Adventures G Adventures

Student Universe has also partnered with travel sites such as Kayak, TravelZoo and Fly.com, so that those sites can redirect you StudentUniverse for discounts once you find your flight.

THEIR JUSTIFICATION

“It’s about getting the most out of your time in school. We believe in the positive effects that travel experiences can have on a person’s character and that having those experiences early on in life is critical in personal development. We believe that travel enriches education and that students should be able to experience their world without breaking the bank.” (http://www.studentuniverse.com/about-us)

FLIGHTS

My favorite feature on the site is the flight flexibility grid. When searching for a flight, you have the options of making your travel dates flexible and choosing from multiple airports in an area. If you select those options, StudentUniverse displays a grid comparing the cheapest flights on the market for a range of days around the departure and return dates you indicated. I’ve been able to save $300 on a flight just by flying out the night before I had planned.

grid

Thanks to StudentUniverse I was able to book my round trip ticket to London for my Mini Rider tour in June. I saved hundreds of dollars by picking an earlier departure day. Now I’ll be flying in to London a few days before the tour begins, so I’ll have more time to explore the city. Next, I’ll have to look into budget hostels or some place to Couchsurf while I’m in London!