Hotels, hostels, and homestays, oh my! Choices abound when deciding what type of accommodation to choose! Regardless of where you decide to stay, one thing is for sure—you want to be safe.
There are many types of accommodations you can choose from, but every country, city, neighborhood, and lodging establishment is different.
Hotels are what many American students are accustomed to, but abroad, hotels may look quite different. Beds may be smaller, bathrooms may be shared, and amenities like a pool or a gym, may be non-existent. Hotels are usually the most expensive accommodation option.
Pensions and Bed and Breakfasts are usually small, family-run hotels. They usually offer similar accommodations to American B&Bs. Prices and quality may vary greatly.
If you are traveling as a part of a study abroad program at a foreign university, it may be a good idea to live on campus or in official university housing. Being in an environment with your fellow students may ease the transition of adjusting to a new country, and the costs may already be covered in the program fees.
A homestay is just what it sounds like: it’s a stay in someone’s home. There are many agencies available that screen potential hosts and homestay candidates. This option is great for students who want to live in more of a family environment.
However, you must be comfortable with the idea of staying in someone else’s home and immersed in the culture of that family.
A hostel is a low-cost, dormitory-style accommodation. Most living spaces, including bathrooms, are shared, and they tend to be very student-centric.
Campgrounds typically are half the cost of what a hostel would cost, but you must be willing to “rough it.” Often there are showers, kitchens, and laundry facilities available, but you’ll have to carry extra gear and deal with local weather conditions.
Hotel Safety Tips
- Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
- Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
- If you are out late at night, let someone know when you expect to return.
- If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.
- Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.)
- Know the identity of any visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don't invite strangers to your hotel room, or to remote locations.