To book or not to book?

Old Mar 26th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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To book or not to book?

So... I am going to stay in a mix of hotels and hostels around my trip to Europe, do I pre book, or book on the way, so if I want to stay somewhere longer I can because I have no rush to get to the next destination.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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I would say that depends on the time of year and whether the hostels/hotels you want to stay at are likely to be booked up. And whether you have booked transit in advance. I personally always book because I like to stay at places that are under €150 a night and the good places book up in advance. I also dont want to waste my holiday time trying to find a place to stay.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:02 AM
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I've done it both ways, sometimes a mix. The trade-offs are pretty obvious: if you pre-book you are (somewhat) locked in and less flexible in your plans. But if you don't, you could waste a lot of time looking for places while you are there. It also depends how flexible you are about lodgings - are you picky? And how busy will it be while you are there? A weekend in high season? Or a slow time?

I'd probably book at least the first night or two so you don't have to deal with finding a place when you arrive.

Also, note that some booking sites like booking.com tend to have flexible cancellation policies - maybe 1-3 days before arrival to cancel without a penalty. Presumably you'd have access to the internet while you are traveling, so you can chancel or change or book things? Generally the hostel booking sites charge a 10% non-refundable "deposit" for booking at all, but it may be worth it to you in some cases to risk losing that if you book now and have to change later and lose it.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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I would suggest booking ahead. Every time you arrive in a new city, you really don't want to spend a couple of hours hunting down a place to stay, (especially if you are going during the summer, when all the good places will already be booked.) To give yourself flexibility, try to book places that have no cancelation fee. That way, no loss if you change plans, but you still have the security of knowing where you are going each time you land in a new place. Happy travels!
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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I would book ahead to get the best places at inexpensive rates. If you want flexibility then have a list of hostels and budget hotels handy and perhaps try to book a few days before arrival.

Booking ahead also depends on where your traveling. In cities it's a very good idea but in small towns that are not overly popular you can go to the Tourist Office and they usually have a room finding service at different prices.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:21 AM
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On my very first vacation to Europe (solo trip), I landed in London without any reservations (this was just before most hotels could be booked online). I had a few leads for hotels in London recommended by a friend. I simply took the Tube to the neighborhood he suggested and looked at rooms at a few of these places and chose one. I went to Paris and booked a place by phone just before I got on the train over.

I can't imagine doing that today! My last few trips have been pretty well planned. Still, sometimes I miss the spontaneity of not booking ahead. There have been a few cases where I wouldn't have stayed as long in a place or might have stayed longer, but I'd pre-booked and hated the idea of losing a night's lodging somewhere. I'm thinking of doing my next trip much like my first trip - but with some pre-planning (maybe pick two or three places and an area where I'd prefer to stay; make sure it's not a super-busy time there, etc.).
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 11:40 AM
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I am looking to go all around Europe in july. Will that be busy for hostels!!!!?
I didn't think of weekends and being busy :/
I don't mind researching places to stay on my travels as I am planning to get the train around so could be travelling for hours at a time. I will make a list of places I can look to book before I go.
It sounds like a good plan to pre book the first couple of nights, thanx.
I will certainly bare in mind the no cancellation fee and look out for it on hotels and hostels before I go.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 12:52 PM
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July is peak time. Schools are on holiday, kids are backpacking around, You really do need to book I think. It cuts the spontaneity of the trip down a lot, but better that than find all the hostel/hotels in your price range are full when you get somewhere.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 01:20 PM
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Absolutely book ahead in July!
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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>>I am looking to go all around Europe in july. Will that be busy for hostels!!!!? <<

First - the whole month of July? Or just a couple of weeks? And how many places? Even if you do mean the whole month that isn't enough time to 'go all around Europe'. Where are you planning to visit?

Second - of course July is busy! It sounds like that surprises you. Many of the good hostels are already booked up for July. Any that aren't will likely be totally booked before you get to Europe. Unfortunately you really do need to pre-book most if not all of your accommodations. And not just after you get to Europe - now.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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It depends how much time you don't mind putting into finding a place to stay once you are traveling. I don't mind having a set schedule of number of nights, for number of cities, rather than having to spend precious trip time looking for a place to sleep.

Your priorities may be different.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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I like to book ahead. I can only travel for 2-3 weeks at a time, so with such a short duration, it is pretty easy to settle on an itinerary. I find the trade-off to be worth it - less flexibility, but I don't have to spend time looking for lodging and I know for certain that I will have good rates on my lodging. OTOH, if I were travelling for several weeks, I might try for some more flexibility - with more travel time, spending time looking for lodging isn't as big of a deal and designing a set itinerary for a longer trip is more work.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 04:16 PM
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How are you traveling from place to place? If by chance it's by train, you're going to incur huge expenses buying train tickets on the spot as opposed to buying cheap tickets well in advance. Plus, if you don't reserve lodgings ahead of time for July you may well end up spending hours seeking out accommodations when you land somewhere and/or have to spend way more than you would have needed to if you booked in advance.

In short, really bad idea.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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For the reasons already given, book! Just be sure that your reservations can be cancelled free of charge until a day or two (or three) before your scheduled arrival time. During the height of summer, you risk paying MUCH more than you need to for minimally acceptable accommodations (if that good) in inconvenient (if not decidedly dodgy) areas. And you can't really do effective research on your lodging options on the train -- your guide books may have been accurate when published, but the hotel information (especially about rates) can become obsolete surprisingly quickly. Or you can go to the tourist info desk upon arrival, but that could mean waiting in line for hours and still doesn't guarantee that you will find affordable or acceptable accommodation. I've been there, I've done that, I am SO glad that the internet lets us book ahead now! You are much more likely to find suitable lodging by spending just a little time before you go. If you have reservations that you can cancel without charge, you should still have the flexibility to adjust your plans more-or-less on the fly if that's what you want to do.
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Old Mar 29th, 2013, 04:49 AM
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That's for all your advise.
I am travelling by train pass which is unlimited travel £360 per month.
And I will certainly take your advise on pre booking hotels and hostels that have a free cancellation policy. Thanx
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