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Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

So, historically I have been mostly a budget traveler, finding the cheapest reasonable hotel I can, going to not-too-popular travel destinations or just visiting my parents. The last time I took a serious vacation was to Taiwan in 2017, and for that I stayed in a friend's parents' apartment, which wasn't terrifically luxurious, but was absolutely great for my purposes (clean, had a bathroom with a shower, and a mattress for me to sleep on). I've tended to think of the hotel/motel I'm staying at as basically a place I sleep at, and that's it. I've stayed in nicer places for work (the Luxor in Vegas, the Marriott in Chicago), but those were for conferences, and were really just places to sleep.

I was going to take a fairly lengthy trip to Japan when the pandemic hit (like, March of 2020), and wound up having to cancel it; since then, I've made a decision that I'm going to attempt to never go more than 12-18 months without a substantial (12+ days) vacation. I'm single and have no children, so I tend to travel in the off season (fall and spring). I was looking at things like the Marriott at the time, and they were wildly expensive in comparison to the local hotels (like, $500 a night for a room with two beds compared to $140 a night for a room with three; I'm planning to travel with two friends, so three beds is definitely an upgrade). I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing out on by being fairly utilitarian about my hotel accommodations... like, other than I guess the bed being a bit softer, a bigger room, and maybe a continental breakfast or more expansive (and wildly expensive) room service, what's the advantage? If we're mostly planning on being out and about during the day, is it just nicer surroundings to come back to? Just doesn't seem to justify the multiplicative increase in price.

Question two is about luggage, if I'm traveling internationally on longer (I think the Japan trip will wind up being 18-20 days) trips, I'm thinking the best luggage situation is one carry-on and one checked bag, bring enough clothes that I only have to do laundry once? Or should I just bring God's own amount of clothes and plan on not doing laundry at all? My main luggage right now is a very old beat-to-poo poo duffel bag, so I've been looking through Wirecutter reviews on bags, and I'm thinking like one small duffel bag as a carry-on that I'd also use as a gym bag, and then a larger bag (either like a wheeled duffel or one of the wheeled rectangle bags). Is that the best way to go given traveling alone? I tend to pack light.

Basically, school me on making my travel better. Open to other suggestions I may not have considered.

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Beef Of Ages
Jan 11, 2003

Get off my lawn.

Thanatosian posted:

So, historically I have been mostly a budget traveler, finding the cheapest reasonable hotel I can, going to not-too-popular travel destinations or just visiting my parents. The last time I took a serious vacation was to Taiwan in 2017, and for that I stayed in a friend's parents' apartment, which wasn't terrifically luxurious, but was absolutely great for my purposes (clean, had a bathroom with a shower, and a mattress for me to sleep on). I've tended to think of the hotel/motel I'm staying at as basically a place I sleep at, and that's it. I've stayed in nicer places for work (the Luxor in Vegas, the Marriott in Chicago), but those were for conferences, and were really just places to sleep.

I was going to take a fairly lengthy trip to Japan when the pandemic hit (like, March of 2020), and wound up having to cancel it; since then, I've made a decision that I'm going to attempt to never go more than 12-18 months without a substantial (12+ days) vacation. I'm single and have no children, so I tend to travel in the off season (fall and spring). I was looking at things like the Marriott at the time, and they were wildly expensive in comparison to the local hotels (like, $500 a night for a room with two beds compared to $140 a night for a room with three; I'm planning to travel with two friends, so three beds is definitely an upgrade). I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing out on by being fairly utilitarian about my hotel accommodations... like, other than I guess the bed being a bit softer, a bigger room, and maybe a continental breakfast or more expansive (and wildly expensive) room service, what's the advantage? If we're mostly planning on being out and about during the day, is it just nicer surroundings to come back to? Just doesn't seem to justify the multiplicative increase in price.

Question two is about luggage, if I'm traveling internationally on longer (I think the Japan trip will wind up being 18-20 days) trips, I'm thinking the best luggage situation is one carry-on and one checked bag, bring enough clothes that I only have to do laundry once? Or should I just bring God's own amount of clothes and plan on not doing laundry at all? My main luggage right now is a very old beat-to-poo poo duffel bag, so I've been looking through Wirecutter reviews on bags, and I'm thinking like one small duffel bag as a carry-on that I'd also use as a gym bag, and then a larger bag (either like a wheeled duffel or one of the wheeled rectangle bags). Is that the best way to go given traveling alone? I tend to pack light.

Basically, school me on making my travel better. Open to other suggestions I may not have considered.

I think the hotel thing varies widely based on where you're going. In Japan, hotels tend to be expensive and cater to business travelers that aren't spending their own money. This is why, for better or for worse, Airbnb has been a really good option in many places around the world. Not only do you get bedding and space, in some cases you can also have laundry facilities that negate the need to pack as much stuff. That usually requires some strategic booking if you're traveling around different areas to ensure that the property you stay in has those facilities at appropriate intervals during the trip, but that shouldn't be a terrible burden in most cases in a highly developed place like Japan.

I personally see no reason to choose a big chain like Marriott unless it's a super short stay, you're traveling on business, or you want the luxury of a full service hotel in which case case I wouldn't pick a plain Marriott property, or you have a lot of money that you don't care about. I say this with lifetime platinum status at Marriott that holds almost no value to me over the last couple of (pre-pandemic) years. If you're traveling with friends and being at the location is a big deal (think Hokkaido versus Osaka, as an example) then a place like an Airbnb where you can make meals and hang out is nice; if you're trying to spend time in Tokyo or another city then more utilitarian approaches are both warranted and a good idea in my opinion.

If you are looking for the luxury option, look at the high end from Marriott (W, Westin, JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton), Hyatt (Park Hyatt) and the few others out there (Conrad, Intercontinental, etc.) Only with decently high levels of loyalty status do you get things like breakfast, lounge access, and other amenities without paying for them. All that neat poo poo is available if you're looking to drop some cash, but the value you get is directly proportional to what your expectations and goals for travel are.

In sum, I don't think you're doing it wrong and life is about choices.

Casual Yogurt
Jun 30, 2005

Cool tricks kid, I like your style.

Get a backpack and stay at a hostel. You can pay them to do your laundry.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

Casual Yogurt posted:

Get a backpack and stay at a hostel. You can pay them to do your laundry.

I snore, and I can afford hotels, so that feels very inconsiderate.

I've done it before, though; at this point in my life, I'm okay paying for the private room with my own bathroom.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


In most places, AirBnB is way better than hotels now if you're staying somewhere > 3 days, and for > 7 days I wouldn't even consider looking at a hotel. There is some personal preference here, e.g. I actually like cooking, so staying in hotels for extended periods is a bummer for me even if they're nice hotels. AirBnBs also tend to be cheaper than hotels unless you're really scraping bottom of the barrel hotels, e.g. I can almost always get a pretty nice AirBnB for the same price that I would spend at a Hilton, and it ends up being cheaper since I can cook some dinners at home for the price of groceries instead of spending money dining out. I don't really use AirBnB because it's usually cheaper than hotels for similar comfort for what I consider comfortable, it's just a side bonus I noticed. I've stayed in about 100 AirBnBs across the world and have never even a single time had a bad experience, but I do a fair amount of vetting and it takes probably 10x longer research time to book an AirBnB than it does to book a hotel or hostel.

AirBnB doesn't work so well in rural areas and small towns in developing countries, and the good ones can book out really far in advance, especially in high season travels, and the other downside is there is a lot more variability, e.g. if the owner is checking you in, then that check-in time window is more important than for a hotel. Alternatively if it's a keybox checkin, it's easier than most hotels.

Most AirBnBs are also now "instant book", there's rarely vetting done by the owner anymore, at least for "book entire home/apartment" bookings. For booking shard flats then they're usually vetting people, as you might imagine. This changed a few years ago after that issue blew up about people with black people in their profile picture getting rejected at like three times the rate of non-black people or whatever, and AirBnB started pushing much more for instant book confirmation. I had one place reject me after confirmation, a couple days before I was supposed to go there, which was super annoying but apparently a water pipe had broken and flooded the apartment, so I guess that could have happened to a small hotel or whatever too.

AirBnB also solves your laundry problem, since they very frequently have washer/dryers since they need to clean the sheets and towels there for the next guest. This is especially true if you book "private" AirBnBs (rather than large company-managed ones). IME the vast majority of AirBnBs in Europe have been private AirBnBs, even though I almost exclusively book "whole home/apartment" rather than shared flat.


E: There are other similar websites besides AirBnB, e.g. vrbo.com seems to work better in some places in France, but usually vrbo listings are older and managed by less up-to-date people. VRBO was cool in like 2010 but it's been largely supplanted by AirBnB. VRBO is kind of like if you go to a restaurant that advertises its MySpace page. They probably still exist but it's dated. There's also some super upscale equivalent of AirBnB (by a different company) that I can't recall the name of offhand, but if you want super sick places for like $1000/night then there's an option for that too which is outside of AirBnB's general target which is mid-range, although AirBnB does have some ultra swanky places on it too.

Saladman fucked around with this message at 07:20 on Jul 29, 2021

mobby_6kl
Aug 9, 2009

"You are the best poster... do not let anyone say otherwise."


In some hostels you can also get a whole private room which gives you the privacy to snore with the facilities like laundry and kitchen.

Another option I quite like are whole apartment or aparthotels. YMMV but they're generally pretty nice and comfortable, you have your own facilities so you don't have to talk to anyone and can do whatever you want.


As for luggage it really depends on how you'll travel. If you'll be using public transport, a large suitcase is a huge pain in the rear end. If you'll have a car, you can keep it in the trunk and take things amps needed. Clothes depend on the climate, if it's moderate I've gotten away with just washing socks and underwear, but if it's super hot of course all the shirts get sweaty and gross pretty quickly.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

mobby_6kl posted:

In some hostels you can also get a whole private room which gives you the privacy to snore with the facilities like laundry and kitchen.

Another option I quite like are whole apartment or aparthotels. YMMV but they're generally pretty nice and comfortable, you have your own facilities so you don't have to talk to anyone and can do whatever you want.


As for luggage it really depends on how you'll travel. If you'll be using public transport, a large suitcase is a huge pain in the rear end. If you'll have a car, you can keep it in the trunk and take things amps needed. Clothes depend on the climate, if it's moderate I've gotten away with just washing socks and underwear, but if it's super hot of course all the shirts get sweaty and gross pretty quickly.

I am definitely a public transit type; I despise having to deal with parking and getting/dropping off a rental car, and I don't own a car.

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



i used to do a lot of backpacking and airbnb'ing but i got sick of both eventually. airbnb in particular can be a huge pain in the rear end because while most owners are nice you occasionally get an rear end in a top hat who will try to charge you for something like leaving a coffee stain on a table or not cleaning up to their standards (like folding the sheets in a certain way or whatever crazy bullshit). even when the owners are nice you still lose the comfortable barrier of professionalism and anonymity that is the hotel reception desk. a holiday for me inherently involves a certain degree of anonimity and privacy, i like to go to a town where i don't know anybody, can just sit around on terraces outside and read a book, not having to deal with people who aren't waiters and hotel staff feels great, as is just leaving a room without worrying what the host will think of how you fluffed the pillows or if you broke a glass in the kitchen or whatever

places like booking.com usually have decent midrange hotels that are a big step up from the airbnb's and hostels but aren't necessarily more expensive and are still hotels. i don't see the value in fancy hotels for the most part, i tend to be outside all day and all i really care about is whether the place is clean, whether there's a desk for work, maybe a pool if it's a hot country. whether a hotel is fancy mostly affects things like the quality of the breakfast or the size of the room, but eating out is more fun and i don't need my room to be big

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



related: i don't get bed and breakfasts. old people seem to love going to someone else's house and getting served breakfast at some set time by a stranger, talking to them etc. why the hell would you want that instead of just a hotel? maybe it's because old people tend to be lonely or something and want the interaction

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Shibawanko posted:

related: i don't get bed and breakfasts. old people seem to love going to someone else's house and getting served breakfast at some set time by a stranger, talking to them etc. why the hell would you want that instead of just a hotel? maybe it's because old people tend to be lonely or something and want the interaction

I think it depends on whether you're looking for in vacations. If you're going for R&R, if you're going for specific museums and sites, or if you're going to just generally check out the atmosphere of somewhere. If I go somewhere purely for R&R, then a 5* resort hotel can be super nice if I plan on spending the whole day at the hotel beach or whatever. Doubly true in places where a hotel beach is private and a public beach is full of people who go by constantly trying to sell you stuff.

If I'm going to some rural countryside place in the middle of nowhere or to a poorer country (like GDP per capita < $5000/yr), then I like B&Bs because then you can have breakfast with a stranger from the area who likely speaks English pretty well. I say especially in poorer countries since there ~98% of strangers who talk to you unprompted are scammers, and anyone you meet otherwise is typically pre-arranged for a specific reason and will tend to follow a specific line of conversation (e.g. to show you around ruins or whatever), and in a hostel you'll only meet other people on vacation. Small B&Bs also give you a good real impression of what the local middle/upper-middle-class actually lives like in what is generally a fairly authentic situation. Some of my best interactions with people with travelling have been B&B and AirBnB hosts, including a handful of people I kept in contact with and even a couple I have met since elsewhere. Personally I don't stay in an Ibis or Mercure or whatever unless it is for business travel (if you can remember when that existed), or if I was doing a roadtrip and just stopping for one night on the way out.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

So, how do you find a good AirBnB in a country where you don't speak the language? This won't be a concern for me in Japan (I've got a friend along who does), but I'm looking at going to probably Prague in 2023 (definitely Reykjavik + somewhere else in Europe, probably somewhere where I don't speak the language). I'd feel really nervous about getting hosed over if there's something wrong; it'd be hard to book a new place to stay.

Edit: also, I hate cooking, I don't know how strongly that figures into the AirBnB vs. hotel math.

Thanatosian fucked around with this message at 04:40 on Aug 14, 2021

Rick
Feb 23, 2004
And now the whole nation - pulpit and all - will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open.

Maybe I got lucky but my hotel in Japan was under $40 a night. I guess the place is owned by a bunch of fascists or something but the propaganda was ineffective on me since at the time I knew 3 words in Japanese. Under 40 and in a city in the US is definitely doable but you're usually rolling the dice on something at that point, while this place was pretty nice.

I didn't actually have any really bad experiences on AirBnB, i just didn't like how stressful it was eventually and it wasn't actually saving that much compared to a hotel. I'd be more inclined to try a hostel out from this point.

But with that said, I did, and health willing will probably again do a lot of pretty low budget travel in the US. It involved sleeping in my car or not sleeping at all for the most part, though, so heads up there. My tip here though is go places where there's BLM land and double check the state's regulation but usually as long as you're a couple thousand feet from the highway you're allowed to camp and I've never been bothered by a park ranger or something by just pulling off into a pullout and going to sleep. This to me was more doable than sleeping at truck stops or rest stops which just never feels comfortable to me, if I can even fall asleep. I guess my "trick" was to have a place to stay so I could get freshened up before the destination, and then just plot a route that intersects with a lot of BLM land for the drive up.

Rick fucked around with this message at 07:44 on Aug 14, 2021

mobby_6kl
Aug 9, 2009

"You are the best poster... do not let anyone say otherwise."


I think the OP was specifically asking about less bottom-of-the-barrel travel, not sleeping at truck stops :v:

That said, I've done that too, in the US and Spain last year. It's fine on a road trip if you can actually fall asleep properly, a few times I had issues and and had to just lay there and wait for the sun to come up.

Thanatosian posted:

So, how do you find a good AirBnB in a country where you don't speak the language? This won't be a concern for me in Japan (I've got a friend along who does), but I'm looking at going to probably Prague in 2023 (definitely Reykjavik + somewhere else in Europe, probably somewhere where I don't speak the language). I'd feel really nervous about getting hosed over if there's something wrong; it'd be hard to book a new place to stay.

Edit: also, I hate cooking, I don't know how strongly that figures into the AirBnB vs. hotel math.
Most hosts will speak English, certainly in Iceland and Prague, so I wouldn't worry about that. Not a big fan of AirBnB in general though because it feels like you're sleeping in some stranger's home, which you often are, but YMMV. Once guy complained I didn't water his plants properly and in another place I ended up scrubbing the whole kitchen

As for cooking, at best you'd usually have a breakfast at the hotel included, but others will charge >$20 for some cereal and maybe an omelette or something. I don't really eat breakfast normally so generally it's not worth it for me. And otherwise if you want you can still eat at a restaurant of course.


Thanatosian posted:

I am definitely a public transit type; I despise having to deal with parking and getting/dropping off a rental car, and I don't own a car.
From my experience, even having the standard airline cabin trolley suitcase is a pain in the rear end if you travel a lot by public transport. Especially if there's cobblestones or dirt or gravel anywhere. Can be done, especially if you tend to stay in one place for a bit of course.

Some people travel with these enormous hiking backpacks, though usually I try to fit everything into a normal-size backpack. An extra pair of pants, a few shirts, t-shirt, and socks and underwear. Wash as needed. Depending on the weather/your activities of course. That's not gonna work if you'll want to got to a theater or something. But otherwise that's enough to look very presentable and not stink too much.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


mobby_6kl posted:

Most hosts will speak English, certainly in Iceland and Prague, so I wouldn't worry about that. Not a big fan of AirBnB in general though because it feels like you're sleeping in some stranger's home, which you often are, but YMMV. Once guy complained I didn't water his plants properly and in another place I ended up scrubbing the whole kitchen

Have you used much AirBnB recently? Your issues with it sound like what was common back in like 2012 when it came out, but I encounter never anymore, and when I look for AirBnBs I very strongly look for houses that are actually lived in by someone (e.g. as a holiday home they only use part of the year), as these tend to have things like full spices in the kitchen, wash powder, better appliances and cookware, more attention to detail, and as a bonus they're not contributing to any local issues that might be caused by housing speculators buying properties to rent out on AirBnB since they're generally someone's holiday homes that would otherwise sit empty if AirBnB didn't exist. Some of the best and most memorable places I've stayed ever have been such place -- I've been to some pretty incredible AirBnBs that way outrival any 5* hotel in terms of memories generated.

Thanatosian posted:

So, how do you find a good AirBnB in a country where you don't speak the language? This won't be a concern for me in Japan (I've got a friend along who does), but I'm looking at going to probably Prague in 2023 (definitely Reykjavik + somewhere else in Europe, probably somewhere where I don't speak the language). I'd feel really nervous about getting hosed over if there's something wrong; it'd be hard to book a new place to stay.

Edit: also, I hate cooking, I don't know how strongly that figures into the AirBnB vs. hotel math.


You have to plan way longer in advance to get a good AirBnB. You can search for things like "Rare Gem" (or "Rare Find" or whatever; I forget, it's a symbol of a diamond), search for "Superhosts" and etc. There's rating inflation as with anywhere else -- a 4.95 place is going to be amazing, a 4.6 place OK, and a 3.5 place catastrophically bad, out of a rating of 1-5.

AirBnB definitely isn't for everyone's travel preferences though. It requires a lot more planning, you can't really do short stays (many places have 3 day minimums, sometimes 7 day in high season, and even if they don't, the service fee and cleaning fee make a 1 or 2 day stay usually economically nonsensical), you sometimes have to adhere to a schedule to pick up the keys (although "pick up a key from a lockbox whenever" has become wayyy more common post-COVID), if you don't like cooking that makes it a lot less appealing price-wise, and if you don't like staying in strangers homes then you'll generally just book the generic "a business purchased this property to rent out" type place.

Weaponized Autism
Mar 26, 2006

All aboard the Gravy train!

Hair Elf

AirBNB is great for when you're staying in center-city. I've found the nightly rates to be $100s of dollars cheaper than a hotel in many cases. I haven't used it in at least 5 years though so my guess is it's gotten more expensive.

quote:

I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing out on by being fairly utilitarian about my hotel accommodations... like, other than I guess the bed being a bit softer, a bigger room, and maybe a continental breakfast or more expansive (and wildly expensive) room service, what's the advantage? If we're mostly planning on being out and about during the day, is it just nicer surroundings to come back to? Just doesn't seem to justify the multiplicative increase in price.

I don't think you're missing out on accommodations by being utilitarian, the nicer hotels are all about convenience. Some people prefer the 24/7 front-lobby, gym, pool, business center to print out your boarding pass, shuttle to airport, etc. Travel can be very hectic and stressful for people, and having conveniences like these puts a lot of people at ease.

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webmeister
Jan 31, 2007

The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There has to be a bit of sport in this for all of us. In the psychological battle stakes, we are stripped down and ready to go. I want to see those ashen-faced performances; I want more of them. I want to be encouraged. I want to see you squirm.

Weaponized Autism posted:

AirBNB is great for when you're staying in center-city. I've found the nightly rates to be $100s of dollars cheaper than a hotel in many cases. I haven't used it in at least 5 years though so my guess is it's gotten more expensive.

Yeah, there's a lot more investors in the Airbnb game these days. Whether it was people kicking out their long-term rental tenants because they realised Airbnb is more profitable even when empty several nights a week, or people buying up real estate specifically to convert to Airbnbs. There's a lot less value to be found (or at least was, when we could travel), particularly if you're just staying a couple of nights when the service fee and cleaning fees make up a larger percentage of the total.

I don't have any stats or anything, but my hunch is also that the ratio of "nicely decorated entire apartment" properties vs "staying in someone's spare room" properties has shifted dramatically over the last five years as well.

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