When you’re planning any kind of travel, one of the critical components of your trip is where exactly you’ll stay. Some people like all inclusive resorts, while others are looking for the cheapest possible stay. Others like community style lodging like hostels. If you’re anything like us, you want somewhere nice, clean, able to fit our whole brood, and won’t break the bank.
As you begin to consider housing for extended trips, there are additional things you’ll want to consider to make the most of your trip and your dollars. (I’ll give examples of some of the locations we chose later in this post). Consider the following:
- Proximity to public transportation – The easier it is to get to public transportation, the more motivated you’ll be to use it. This will not only give you cheaper transportation, but will also give you a richer experience. Any time we can take public transporation over taxis or other car services, we jump on it. It’s so much more fun to experience a place like the locals.
- Distance to sites – Think of this lodging as your staging ground, or home base. From here you’ll go see all the places on your list for that country, so try to find something that is somewhat centrally located to the things you want to do.
- Parking availability – This is obviously only necessary if you’ll be renting a car. We typically rented a car for at least part of every visit for our weekend excursions.
- Surrounding area – What is there to do within walking distance? Look for parks, restaurants, walking paths, and other forms of light entertainment. Part of the fun is getting to know your surroundings and people that live in the area, so look for a location that will give you access to to parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and other forms of light entertainment.
- Helpful hosts – This is so much more critical than you may think. At first we thought we would want to be left alone and figure things out on our own. However, we quickly learned how nice it is to have somebody you ask the questions you would have never thought about before you arrive. In addition, a good host can help you arrange transporation when you arrive in the country, give tips for activities that are not your typical “tourist traps,” or explanations of local customs.
One of the best resources we found when booking locations that met our expectations for price and accomodation was airbnb.com. We start our search by looking for housing in several different locations we’re interested in. We slowly start to narrow the list by seeking answers to the questions above (often found in the descriptions of the locations or in the comments of previous customers). Once we have our favorites, we send a message to the property owners. This gives us a good idea of how hospitable and helpful they are, and often narrows the list further.
Let’s give a couple examples places we stayed and why we chose them.
This little apartment was located within a walled market town. As you approach the town, you’re hit with a stunning view of the town wall and the surrounding gardens. Every week there is a large farmers market right outside the house. In addition there are countless restaurants and shops, all with a quaint boutique feel to them. You’re taken back to another century as you walk the beautiful alleys surrounded by stone buildings several stories high. Within walking distance of the house were a couple parks for the kids to play and beaches within a relatively short drive. There were several other beautiful cities and sites close enough we could make day-trips out of them. You can see a few images below.
Ubud is an amazing place to travel and selecting your housing can be difficult, as there are so many amazing places. Bali is such a small island that you can really get to most places without too much trouble. For this segment of our trip (we did one month in Ubud, and one month near Canggu Beach in North Kuta) we wanted to spend most of our time in the central and northern parts of the island, all of which are accessible regardless of where you choose to stay in Ubud. So the things we were looking for were privacy (we wanted a quiet place all to our own) and good service. What attracted us to this location was the fact that is was a little more remote. It is is located in the middle of rice paddies on the outskirts of the main town, but be could also get to town with a short drive using the scooters that were included with the rental. The views were stunning and the owners were extremely helpful and responsive. They offered transportation to and from the airport, a driver when we needed it to get around the island, and guided tours (for an additional fee) if we wanted. It quickly made its way to the top of our list, and in the end it did not disappoint. I’ve included some photos below.