There’s a reason why backpackers in particular dress the way they do and project a sort of “budget traveller” image. For all the hoo-hah that surrounds the perks of luxury travel and anything close to it, flying first-class and then getting shuttled straight from the airport to a five-star hotel in a luxury vehicle takes a lot of authenticity out of most trips you can take.
Unless you’re especially aiming for the luxury getaway with all the comforts that come with it, you’re really missing out on the true essence of whatever destination you’re visiting, especially if it’s a different country with differences in culture.
Yeah, hotels are nice and all, but if you’re looking for that authenticity, there are some good alternatives which will probably make your stay that much more memorable.
I specifically went with a hostel as an alternative to staying at a five-star hotel because hostels are the ultimate melting pot of local culture and that tourist element. Firstly, you get to interact with locals on a more equal level, with the staff at a hostel often going about their business of catering to your needs in this personalised way. They’ll often ask you what your name is, whereas at a hotel you’d have had the receptionist check for your reservation and address you by your last name. You might even be lucky enough to be invited to participate in more ice-breaking activities, like perhaps help prepare the food which you’re also going to eat as well.
Secondly, staying at a hostel will likely have you meeting up with a lot of other guests who are from many different parts of the world. Addressing the language barrier will just make for another interesting story to tell and there’s always something like Google Translate for that, but this meeting of locals, you and many other international travellers completes what is likely to be the ultimate traveller’s melting pot experience.
If you can get a hostel that’s some way away from the main tourist areas, all the better. A nice quiet suburban area on the fringes of the buzzing city for easy access is highly recommended, and for those liberal singles out there, mixed, shared dormitories are the best.
Bed & Breakfast
A B&B makes for another hotel alternative which offers a more authentic travel experience, quite simply because most B&B’s or guest houses are operated by owners for whom the establishment is their full time home as well. You’ll likely get a first-hand view of what one aspect of local life is all about, with none of the pretence that’s synonymous with mightily expensive tourist-mile hotels.
Otherwise you can also take your pick from the backpackers’ experience, which is very similar to a hostel (and is sometimes interchangeable with a hostel), motels, budget hotels and even camping sites, although camping sites are often filled solely by tourists or locals which hail from other parts of the same country.
Unless you specifically make an effort to go out of your way to find the true essence of the destination you’re visiting, starting from a hotel base will have many ways of deterring you from discovering ways through which to enjoy a truly authentic travel experience.