Last month, Lindsey went on a trip to New York City and it was her third time staying in an Airbnb, while Lina visited Toronto and stayed in a hostel for the first time.

As budget travellers, we're always hunting for the best accommodation and bargain to cater to what we can afford. Depending on your ideal vacation, many factors must be considered for you to find the best place to stay while being away from home.

Together, the two have collaborated to speak on behalf of their own experiences; bringing about the ultimate conundrum of cheap accommodations for the travel bug that lives in us all.



In all my experiences, I've had to share common areas with other guests and/or homeowners. I'm particularly not super bougie and high maintenance, so I really book accommodations that provide me with the basic necessities -- a room with a bed to sleep in and a washroom with a shower.

The golden rule is all you need to apply while staying in an Airbnb: treat shared spaces as you would like people to treat your own. Be courteous and pick up after yourself, as the homeowners are already kind enough to rent you parts of their home. 

Reading past travel reviews are key to getting a grasp upon what you should expect about an Airbnb. The more reviews, the better; and from then on, you can form a general idea of the home you're going to stay in for the duration of you trip.


One of my greatest worries of staying in a hostel for the first time was sharing a messy living space with strangers. Fortunately, I didn't need to worry, although for cleanliness, a hostel is hit-or-miss. The hostel I stayed in was cleaned daily by staff around noon but of course, I was the one responsible for keeping my personal areas clean. Since it was a shared space, my five other roommates and I all seemed to do our best to maintain the living space.

However, I also stayed in my hostel during snowy days so inevitably, wet shoes and jackets inside the room were not the most pleasant view. On top of weather problems, it would also depend on who you have as your roommates. Always check hostel reviews and websites if they offer any laundry facilities or if the rooms are relatively clean.



I've both had hosts who were quiet as well as outgoing, but I believe that the homeowners will speak to you as much as you would like them to. Most of the time, they will check up on me to ask if I need anything, ask about my day, and remain friendly in general.

Remember that you're still staying in a strangers home. Personally, no matter the number of good reviews, I would continue to lock my important things every day I'd leave or take them with me. When I stayed in an Airbnb last summer in a well-off neighborhood in Brooklyn, I received the news that the basement had been broken into. Thankfully, I had had chosen to be safe than sorry with my protecting my valuables.


Privacy is one thing I really did not expect to get in a hostel and my experience proved right. Waiting for other girls and changing my clothes in the washroom was straightforward, but taking phone calls outside was something for which I had to watch out. Personally, it was difficult going to the washroom late at night as everyone went to bed by 11PM and I did not want to disturb their sleep.

However, starting and ending the day with five other roommates and eating breakfast with everyone in the hostel led me to come out of my shell more. Eventually, everyone became so close that by the time I left, it felt like leaving my family. Of course, my roommates and I respected each other and considering those who go to sleep early for their travel next day, we did our own things at night. Moreover, the common area in the lobby offered free computers and mini rooms where we could make phone calls privately until late at night. 



The cheaper the price of the accommodation, the more likely you are located from the main attractions. I may have found a bargain price, but it also took me at least an hour to commute to midtown Manhattan. Personally, I don't mind the travel time, because I wanted to live in a more residential area to gain a local feel. Plus, Brooklyn appealed to me just as much (now, more) than the city.

My advice to find cheap accommodation is booking a place as soon as possible. I managed to find a private room in Brooklyn for under $40 a night, but there was an even cheaper accommodation in Queens that was quickly snatched away during my period of research prior to my trip. 


The advice of booking a place as soon as possible applies to hostels as well. The closer the date of your travel, the pricier it becomes. has a larger amount of properties listed on its website so it's easier to see which hostel offers a cheaper price. They even offer $10 on your birthday month! I stayed in Planet Traveler Hostel near Kensington Market in Toronto for just around $40. 

It's a good idea to check what kind of benefits your hostel offers. I was able to save a few bucks as my hostel offered free breakfast until 1PM and free popcorn all day.



Contrary to the first time I visited New York, I spent a few days solely in Brooklyn, so my accommodation wasn't terribly far away from my list of must-visits. In my opinion, New York City transit is mostly reliable, and you also see more by walking, so I think that it's perfectly doable and safe to stay in a cheaper accommodation further away from the city, where most of the tourist attractions are located.

Before planning trips, I think that we all have a vision of how we wish it would be. Personally, I wanted to stay in a away from the city so that I could be surrounded by more locals to catch that groove, instead of a sea of tourists. The two times I visited NYC, I went by myself, and I think that if you have the liberty of creating your ideal trip, then you should do all it takes to make it happen.


Hostels are like hotels. They are all located in the middle of the city and the staff offer great tips and even discounts to the main attractions. Even more, a hostel is a place where many great experienced travelers stay. Feel free to ask them any questions about the city! 

I was able to walk to most of my must-visits and there were also bus stations close by. If I ever ran out of personal supplies, any kind of supermarket was only 3 minutes away. Also, if your next Greyhound bus is scheduled far from your checkout time, check to see if your hostel offers luggage storage room. I had to check out by 12PM and my bus came at 8PM, but since there was free luggage storage I was able to get around the city freely with more travelling time.


At the end of the day, it's really up to your own preferences. What are you willing to give up in exchange for a cheap accommodation? What are you planning to see on your trip? What does your dream vacation look like?

So many factors come into consideration, but with lots of time to plan, it gives us the opportunity to really make the most out of our time away from home. 

Happy & safe travels!