Booking Travel Accommodations on a Budget-Monique McHugh Blog
Booking Travel Accommodations on a Budget-Monique McHugh Blog
Booking Travel Accommodations on a Budget-Monique McHugh Blog
Booking Travel Accommodations on a Budget-Monique McHugh Blog

With all of the cold weather outside lately, I’m dreaming of another travel adventure. Too bad I don’t have anything on the calendar yet for this year! One of my favorite part of the planning process is booking accomodations. It’s the step in planning a trip when things really begin to to take shape! The catch is that is can be overwhelming because there are  so many options to choose from. If you can relate to that feeling and find yourself putting off this step of the planning procress, this post is for you! I’m going to help you narrow down your options and booking travel accommodations on a budget, that are perfect for your trip. 

Don’t have your flights yet? Pause here, and go check out my secrets to budget flights post before you dive in. 

First, let’s talk about your travel preferences a little bit. Are you someone who just uses your hotel as a place to sleep? Do you want to save money so you can splurge on activities? Truthfully, the most important question to ask yourself and whoever else you’re traveling with is: 

“What is the goal of this trip?”

This question is the best way to determine where you should stay. The purpose of each trip is going to be different so I recommend answering this question each time you travel. Also, ask yourself why you’re going, what you plan to do there, and what type of travel you’re trying to achieve.


  • RELAXATION: One very common goal of a trip is to relax! Most of the time you’ll want to avoid going far or overdoing it. This could look like chilling by the pool/beach or a visit to the spa. When Tim and I visited Zota Beach Resort in Longboat Key that’s exactly what we did. We chose to pay a little more so we could walk to the beach and restaurants and have an onsite pool to lounge around.
  • EXPLORATION: An exploration trip is all about the destination. This could be a bucket list destination or somewhere you’re interested in but don’t have a specific agenda for. This type of trip is more fluid with the intention of going outside and exploring. Hence the name! Maybe stay where you wouldn’t typically stay on this trip and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. 
  • SIGHTSEEING: If you’re visiting a destination with a list of must-sees, you’re probably going on a sightseeing trip! A little more planned out days and lots of your favorite museums, landmarks, and Instagram-worthy spots. For this type of trip, location is key! You may want to compromise style in order to stay in a better area of town that is closer to all of the landmarks.
  • CULTURAL: This trip is all about immersing yourself with the locals. Our honeymoon to Mexico is a great example of this! Though cost-wise we could have afforded something else, we chose to take local buses and eat at restaurants where we could barely understand our waiters, just for the experience. We also stayed in a hotel where the staff only spoke Spanish and challenged ourselves to get to know them. It was intimidating but so worth it! 

I could go on and on with different trip examples (food, mission trip, hiking/outdoor trip, etc) but you get the point! However you choose to break it down, just make sure you and your travel buddy(s) are crystal clear on the purpose before you dive into the next steps of your planning. No matter how much money you save, if you don’t align your accommodations with your desired outcome, you’ll always end up disappointed!

Booking Travel Accommodations on a Budget-Monique McHugh Blog

Now that you’re clear on your vision for your trip, let’s dive into different accommodations that might fit within that. As you’re deciding, keep in mind the price, luxury level, location, and included amenities of each option. You definitely don’t want to pay more for amenities (like an onsite pool and spa) if you’re going on a sightseeing or exploration trip and won’t be at the hotel much. Choose your accommodations with your vision in mind.

Below are the typical places Tim and I begin our search for accommodations on a trip: 

  • FRIENDS + FAMILY: If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family in the area that’s a great bonus. We loved staying with Tim’s parents when we visited Malaga and having them show us around. It always makes a trip sweeter to experience it with family and friends. Plus you save some money on accommodations and have a local show you around the area!
  • AIRBNB: After friends and family, Airbnb is hands down our current favorite option for accommodations. I’ve stayed in over fifteen Airbnbs across the US and Europe and have had so many wonderful experiences. I would recommend reading the reviews to get an idea of the pros and cons of a place. You can also use the map in the listing to research the area of town. Doing a little research on the location and host has worked out for us every time!

    When Tim and I stayed in Florence, it was like staying in our own private villa above the vineyards. The property was absolutely breathtaking with an herb garden, pool, and the sweetest hosts. (All of the photos in this post are from that Airbnb!) It was the best experience we could’ve imagined and far above staying at any hotel. We even got our host’s suggestions on what to do and eat so it was like experiencing the area like a local.

    On the off chance that your Airbnb isn’t as impressive, just contact Airbnb within 24 hours of checking in and they’ll refund you so you can get a hotel instead. What do you have to lose? Plus if you sign up through my referral link and get $40 off your first stay!  
  • BOUTIQUE HOTELS: Our next choice for accommodations are boutique hotels! Boutique hotels are typically owned by a single owner or small managing company, making them more unique. Each hotel typically has a theme and target demographic like young professionals, tourists, etc. I love these hotels because their decor is typically on par with the more high-end hotels, but with a lower price tag. Just search “boutique hotels in {CITY NAME}” to find some great options.
  • RESORTS: If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop that has all of the amenities, I would recommend checking out a resort. The majority of resorts are owned by a larger hotel group and you can expect one if not three pools, a spa, activity rentals, shuttles to nearby attractions, and more. Sometimes resorts come in at a higher price point, but if your goal is to relax and not go anywhere, you probably can’t beat the packages they offer. 
  • CHAIN HOTELS: I think we’re all pretty familiar with chain hotels. These brands typically have tiers in order to provide options at every price point. For example, there are differences between Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and Kimpton hotels yet they are all owned by the IHG umbrella. These hotels are typically more standard and reward loyalty. If all else fails, you can find an option at any price point by heading directly to the hotel groups’ website (Hilton, Marriott, IHG, SPG, etc) and search within the city you’re visiting
  • HOSTELS: I have yet to experience a hostel but have heard good things. They work well for travelers that are more go with the flow and don’t mind sharing their space with others. You’ll likely get a bunk bed in a room with ten or so other beds and a shared bathroom. This is what keeps the costs so low, but you have to weigh if it’s worth it. As a couple, we value a little more privacy and probably won’t venture to a hostel unless we can book a private room, but Tim loves the idea of meeting new people so there is a give and take.

If after running through these options we still aren’t able to find anything, I typically head to Google, search through Instagram hashtags, and ask people who have been to the location for recommendations. More times than not, I have more options than I know what to do with!

So there you have it. These are my tips for choosing the best place to stay during any trip. Once you have your flight and accommodations taken care of, you are pretty much set! You could choose to be super spontaneous and just wing the rest or dive into planning your activities and must-see lists. It’s totally up to you!

I hope you all enjoyed this post 🙂 Thanks so much for reading. 

Looking for more travel tips and inspiration? Check out these posts:


Monique McHugh blog uses affiliate links throughout posts. This means if you click and/or purchase through the links on this page, a small commission will be received in exchange. Please know this does not affect the price you pay, but simply provides a means for this blog to continue providing you with great reccommendations! All opinions and suggestions are always my own and it is my blog promise to never share anything on this blog that I do not truly love. Thank you for your continued support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *