When I travel, domestic or internationally, I pretty much have the same basic travel requirements especially when it comes to accommodations. I’m not someone who has to have the ultra-luxury 5-star travel experience… although it’s nice sometimes but, typically not my travel style. I like to stay in nice places that are 3+ stars but, affordable. There are 5 basic criteria that I use for hotel accommodations… Is it clean? Is it safe? Is it close to transportation, shops & restaurants? Is there free breakfast? Does it have wi-fi? Now that you know my basic criteria, let me break them down.
Is It Clean?
Everyone has their idea of what clean is but, when traveling, I think it’s important for wherever I stay to have a certain level of pride in the appearance and maintenance of the property. I don’t always stay at large hotel chain hotels, I often opt for a smaller boutique hotel but, my standards are the same. I don’t want to have issues with water pressure or the air conditioner not working, etc. I’ve watched enough episodes of the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible, to know that if a hotel is not catching the little things, it’s likely not catching the big ones either. So, I check out reviews. I can’t imagine going anywhere and not checking the reviews first… at minimum go to TripAdvisor as almost every place on the planet has been reviewed there and if it’s not on there, you may want to consider staying somewhere else. It’s a good way not to get stuck staying at a place that won’t meet your needs and expectations or ruin your overall vacation experience.
Is It Safe?
As a woman who has traveled solo to several countries, this is imperative. You need to have a certain piece of mind when traveling that you are in a safe location and if you have to go through all sorts of back roads to get to your hotel or it’s not well lit or there is no 24-hour staff at the front desk then you have to consider your safety when staying there. Checking reviews is extremely helpful with this as well. When you pull up any hotel location on TripAdvisor, you can filter to reviews by Solo, Couples, and Business travelers. I always check the Solo traveler reviews even when I’m not going solo because they are going to give you the best idea of safety factors at that location. Usually travelers will post if the hotel is isolated or not well lit, if transportation is not nearby, if there is no staff at the front desk after 6pm, etc. It’s extremely helpful to know if other travelers felt safe and secure during their stay at that hotel or that destination location in general which can help you to make decision on whether it’s for you.
Is It close to Transportation, Shops & Restaurants?
I don’t know about you but, I like to walk to places when I travel to check out the area, speak to locals, browse, meander and just enjoy being on vacation. I often don’t rent a car when I travel internationally so, it’s important to have transportation nearby so that I can get to other places in the area that are not within walking distance. There is something to be said about packing into the back of a local van taxi/bus with 12-15 local people scooting around town… I must say I love it! Even when I rent a car, I don’t want to spend my vacation constantly in the car so, having restaurants & shops nearby is a great way to make sure that you get out of the hotel and enjoy your travel destination’s local atmosphere.
Is there Free Breakfast?
This is more of a personal preference of mine but, certainly not a requirement. I love a free breakfast because, I don’t want to wake up everyday and the first thing I have to do just to get some food is spend money on breakfast. That can get pretty expensive over the course of several days. I like to spend my money on the fun things that I want to do in my vacation destination so, if I can eliminate having to buy 1 meal a day then that is money that I have in my pocket to do the things that I enjoy. I know there are some of you out there who might say but, what about the All-Inclusive hotels? If you go that route, you don’t have to worry about meal costs… I’ll cover that topic in a future post.
Is there Free Wi-Fi and where?
There is an important distinction between free Wi-Fi in public areas (like the lobby or pool area) and free Wi-Fi in your hotel room. I prefer to have Wi-Fi in my room along with public areas as I don’t want to have to sit in the lobby or by the pool if I have to check emails or something private. Also, not all Wi-Fi is created equal, check to make sure that the Wi-Fi is Free as some places do charge to gain access to their network. Checking reviews can be helpful with this as well to help you know if the signal is strong or patchy on certain floors or areas. In a world when almost everyone has a smartphone, tablet or laptop… even if you are traveling for pleasure and not on business, you would be surprised how quickly free Wi-Fi could come in handy. If you want to read that E-book reader by the pool or check out the reviews on that restaurant that you heard about, it’s helpful to have Wi-Fi available to help make those things happen.
Considering these 5 questions before booking your travel can save yourself a lot of headache in the long run. When on vacation, you just want to have a good time and enjoy yourself, not get derailed by issues with your accommodations that could have possibly been avoided with a little research before your departure. Take the time to do a little background check on your accommodations; it will give you more peace of mind to enjoy your holiday.