“I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new.”
– Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days
Travelling gives a person the opportunity to discover new things and to experience life beyond one’s comfort zone. I have written about the adventurous side of travel, captivating cities and unique landscapes the world has to offer. This time, I write about a different aspect of travel. It’s not always comfortable, it’s sometimes interesting and often it’s memorable. During our trip around the world, we had the chance to experience many different types of accommodation and some of them became stories of their own.
1. Rugs in a Berber Tent – Erg Chebbi, Sahara Desert, Morocco
Camping in the Sahara Desert was a memorable part of our trip to Morocco. It was an awesome experience to sleep in the desert but it was so cold. I had never felt scared about the cold but my head was just freezing that night.
Tip: The desert is extremely cold at night (especially during winter). Carry a woolen hat and an extra blanket.
2. Hammock in a Hut – San Blas Islands, Panama
Hammocks are great for relaxing by the beach but what about sleeping? In the (almost) virgin islands of the San Blas Archipelago, we slept in hammocks for two nights on two different islands. Turns out, hammocks aren’t too bad for sleeping, although it does take a while to get comfortable. The best one was the first night when our hammocks were very close to the beach and the sound of waves was like a lullaby at night.
Tip: Bring a silk sleeping bag (like the ones you get in Vietnam) or sleeping bag liner for the mosquitoes and the cold breeze. Also bring some mosquito repellent since they don’t have mosquito nets.
3. Sleeping Bag in a Tent – W Trek, Torres del Paine, Chile
I never thought camping would be fun until we did the W Trek in Patagonia. Sleeping in a tent for 3 nights during the trek in Torres del Paine National Park was truly unforgettable. There is nothing more dramatic than the view of the mountains on the backdrop of our campsite.
Tip: Make sure to get a good sleeping bag and tent. It gets really cold and windy in Torres del Paine National Park.
4. Double Bed in a Raft House – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
There were times when I thought there was an earthquake but there wasn’t it was just the wind which made the rough house move slightly. During our time in Kanchanaburi, we stayed in raft house on the River Kwai. Even though the temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius when we were there, the atmosphere of the riverside was very calming. The best part was watching the sunsets from our deck.
Tip: You can’t swim in the river so it’s good to find a hotel with a swimming pool to beat the heat!
5. Sleeping in a Car in New Zealand
One of the best ways to explore New Zealand is by driving your own car / campervan. We’ve been living here for three years now and we’ve seen majority of the country with our station wagon with a queen size bed at the back. There are a number of camping grounds in New Zealand inlcuding some free/ cheap ones managed by the Department of Conservation so if you’re wanting to see the country without splashing out on accommodation then this is definitely a great idea for you.
RELATED POST: What’s It Really Like to Live in New Zealand?
6. Four Poster Bed in a Haveli – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Havelis are former mansions owned by descendants of India’s elite families. There are many of them in Rajasthan and a few have been refurbished into luxury hotels. During our stay in Rajasthan, we had the chance to stay in a beautiful haveli hotel which is over 100 years old. The experience was truly unforgettable – we truly felt like royalty. If you have plans to visit Rajasthan, make sure to stay at least once in one of these lovely haveli hotels.
7. Airport Arrival Area – Ciampino, Rome
Sleeping at the airport is not ideal but sometimes it’s the best option. The Ciampino Airport in Rome served as our accommodation for one night in between flights. It actually wasn’t that bad and as Jon said, “Try to be comfortable.” I was glad he was there since I felt quite awkward about the whole situation. He knew what we should do and we really needed that rest before our early flight the next day.
Tip: Find a good space at the airport where you can lie down properly. Lock your bag and keep them close while you sleep.
READ MORE: The Art of Sleeping at Airports
8. Bunk Bed in a Night Train – Romania to Hungary Train
The train is my favourite means of transport in Europe. It’s so convenient and comfortable. My first night train experience was from Romania (Brasov) to Hungary (supposedly straight to Budapest). It was an easy ride and I really enjoyed the bed bunks however, the border crossing did not go smoothly. It was so early in the morning and I was told to get off the train to process my passport in the immigration office in Lokoshaza. Of course, Jon had no choice but to get off the train with me. It was not a great start to our time in Hungary but it wasn’t so bad. We were delayed by a few hours because they had to process my visa manually but I didn’t get into any trouble. Then we were off to the next train to Budapest, a city we absolutely adored.
9. Bunk Bed in a Hostel Dorm – London, England
As much as possible, Jon and I tried to avoid sleeping in dorms, however, a private room in London was too expensive for our backpacker budget. During our first night in London (we stayed with family and friends for the rest of our stay), we stayed in a 6-bed dorm in a youth hostel. Although I’m not a big fan of communal sleeping space, it turned out to be alright. It was my first time to sleep in a dorm and I guess it’s a not a bad experience.
10. Double Bed in a Riverside Bungalow – Don Det, Laos
Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter – like having a great view of the little islands in the Mekong River from your tiny bungalow. Don Det is one of the 4000 Islands in the Mekong River in Laos. While there are many things to do in Don Det like biking to a waterfalls and spotting dolphins, watching the sunset from our bungalow was my favourite. The accommodation is quite basic but with a bed directly facing an impressive view, it’s hard not to be satisfied!
Tip: Bungalows in Don Det are located on both sunrise and sunset sides. Look for one with a great view of the Mekong River. We loved the sunset side and found a small bungalow just a little bit further down from the main town. The stretch of river is better here and the bungalows are cheaper.
11. Seat in a Night Bus – Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentina
“Would you like a glass of wine?,” the bus attendant asked. Jon and I never thought we would be able to try the famous Malbec wine during a bus ride! It was good. The wine also helped us get some decent sleep. This bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza was one of the most comfortable buses we’ve been on. We even had a hot meal.
Tip: If you have some money to spare, splash out to a VIP class bus ticket. The chairs are more comfortable (like lounge chairs) and the perks like food and wine are worth it.
12. Double Bed in a Salt Hotel – Uyuni Salt Flat Tour, Bolivia
Does “salt hotel” really mean it’s made of salt? Surprisingly, yes! During the 3 day salt flat tour in Bolivia we slept in a salt hotel for the first night. It was an interesting experience. The construction of the hotel from salt was truly marvelous. Too bad I didn’t get any photos.
Tip: Make sure to book the 3 day salt flat tour. The colourful lakes on the third day are truly out of this world.
13. Bunk Bed in a Cargo Boat – The Corn Islands, Nicaragua
The way to paradise is not always easy. It took us nearly two full days to reach The Corn Islands off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Turns out a public cargo boat is not the best idea. We got delayed on the dock of El Rama for a whole day because of engine failure. Cargo boat means make-shift bunk beds – not the most comfortable sleeping conditions. Good thing we had a lot of time to spare as being stuck in an immobile cargo ship is frustrating, especially when no one bothers to tell you what’s happening. The Corn Islands were impressive enough to forget all the transport mishaps.
Tip: If you have the budget, definitely consider flying straight to Big Corn Island. Taking a panga boat to Bluefields is also a good (and fast) alternative. We did this on the way back and it was quite easy.
14. Double Bed in a Tea House – Poonhill Trek, Nepal
A tea house trek in Nepal is a great way to experience the Himalayas. The 4 day Ghorepani- Poonhill-Ghandruk trek was our first big trek on our trip around the world and it was a fitting start to our journey. It was a challenging few days but getting to sleep in a proper bed every night made the hike easier. The tea houses were also situated in mountain villages with stunning views of the mountains. We stopped for the three nights in Ulleri, Ghorepani and Ghandruk. Each one of them had great views of the snow-capped mountains.
Tip: If you plan to do the Poonhill Trek, make sure to do the whole loop which takes you through two different routes (Ghorepani side and Ghandruk side) instead of going back the way you came via Ghorepani.
15. Double Bed in a (shabby) Hut – Tonsai Bay, Krabi, Thailand
When you’re in a long term trip, there will be places that will disappoint you. For me, it was Tonsai Bay in Krabi, Thailand. The shabby little hut in a backpacker town just failed to impress me. But this experience thought me to manage my expectations and don’t worry so much if a place fails to impress. Sometimes, it just doesn’t.
Tip: Try to find cheap acccommodation in Railay Beach, Krabi.
16. Private Cabin in a Ferry – Patagonia Cruise
The 3 night budget cruise from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales was a fitting introduction to Patagonia. During the trip, we saw highlights of the Patagonian landscape – from snow-capped mountains, glacier ice sheets, waterfalls and various wildlife. The accommodation was also comfortable – we had our private cabin with a great view of the scenery outside.
17. Queen Size Bed in a Five Star Hotel – Queenstown, New Zealand
A taste of luxury is always welcome! When you’re traveling long-term it’s good to mix things up a bit. When we visited New Zealand, we stayed in a 5 star hotel in Queenstown (A friend of Jon’s dad is a timeshare holder so we paid a minimum amount). It was so rejuvenating.
RELATED POST: How to Stop Leaving Things in Hotel Rooms
18. Seat on an Airplane – Santiago to Hong Kong Long Haul Flight
To end our time in South America, we travelled on 4 different planes for over 20 hours (plus plenty of hours spent waiting around at airports). We lost our sense of night and day. It was a really long couple days. Good thing we went with a good airline so the long haul flights were more bearable.
RELATED POST: Backpacking in Hong Kong: Costs, Tips and Places to See
Here are other notable experiences that didn’t make it to the list of 18 (18 just sounded better):
Room with a View – Isla del Sol, Bolivia
Who wouldn’t want the Andes mountains right outside their window? In Isla del Sol, our room had the most amazing view of the famous mountain ranges and Lake Titicaca. The best part, it’s cheap!
Bunk Beds on Separate Train Cars – Seville to Barcelona, Spain
I thought there was a mistake in our train tickets when Jon and I were placed in different train cars. There wasn’t! We didn’t know that they separated male and female on the trains in Spain! Even families had to be separated.
Double Bed in an Apartment – Bohinsjka Bella, Slovenia
While it is good to always feel like you’re on holiday, it’s not bad to feel at home when you’ve been travelling for a while. We stayed in apartments a lot in Europe and found it cheaper (and sometimes better) to cook our own meals than eat out. Our stay in the sleepy little town of Bohinsjka Bella (near Bled) was one of my favourites. The scenic town was pretty small and quiet — it’s one of those places that everyone knows everyone but we never felt like strangers.
Tip: Staying in an apartment while travelling in Europe is a great way to save some money!
READ MORE: A Fairy tale in Europe: One Week in Slovenia
Two Couples in One Room – Vienna, Austria
When people offer a bed when you visit, don’t expect it to be in a different room. Two couples sharing the same room is not the most common thing but at least we didn’t have to share one bed. We had a lot of fun with our friends from Vienna but I did feel a little awkward about our bed situation after a few round of schnapps and absinthe (it was the first time I was properly drunk!)
Did you have a similar experience in any of these places? Have you slept in a really strange/ cool / impressive place? Let us know