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Where we stay while travelling the world

Accommodation choices (Riding the buses)Editorial: According to the 2013-14 report on world travel trends, where we stay when travelling around the world has changed dramatically over the past few years. One reason for this is the significant increase in the number of youth travelling and their demand for low-cost beds.

Budget hotel chains are rapidly expanding and appealing to the younger demographic. Stephanie Jack, a regular contributor to this website, is in her early 30s and when she and her boyfriend travelled through Spain they stayed at Ibis hotels because the rooms were “affordable (about $30 a night with private bathroom), easy to book and easy to find”. The Ibis slogan: “Spend less and travel more”.

The younger generation is also trying out new private forms of accommodation and this segment of the industry has grown by 31% over the past four years. A leader has been “couch surfing,” which refers to itself as a social travel network. It was launched in 2004 to connect travellers with strangers willing to share their home.

Then there’s Airbnb, an online community marketplace where people can rent out spaces. It’s not only the young who are using airbnb but boomers too. On a round- the-world trip, Debra Lynkowski and her husband stayed in 17 of them and “made some lovely friendships. You stay in people’s houses so you get a real sense of how the locals live. Even if there were language barriers we didn’t feel as much like tourists when we stayed in an airbnb.”

Youth hostels have to compete with these up-and-coming low-cost beds and the word is that many of them are spiffier and provide more options than before. Often you can choose to stay in a private room rather than a dorm yet still have the “social experience”, which is the main attraction. Hostels are increasingly appealing to older travellers too.

So many travellers I know are doing vacation rentals, probably because of our life stage. These properties are particularly popular for longer stays, for those wanting more space and a kitchen, and for groups. It seems that three-generations going on holiday together is another growing trend and vacation rentals are often a suitable choice.

Social media makes this all possible and the proliferation of on-line reviews gives travellers the confidence to move away from international property chains and look for a more authentic experience. So we have to give resources such as TripAdvisor credit for enabling us to do this.

Still, all is not perfect. A discussion at the World Travel forum this year was about the growing gap between budget and luxury accommodation. It seems the middle category is losing out and along with that the notion of ‘host’ and ‘guest’. Perhaps it’s become too much about the price.

Hmm, not what most of us want, other than for a couple of nights when our only concern is to get from A to B. Well, there’s a  B&B in Oaxaca, Mexico that still cares about the small stuff and does it so well that it gets nothing but rave reviews. It is a feature this month. Certainly worth supporting and I am confident there are many others too.

Sylvia Fanjoy, editor

© Riding the buses 2014

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