I travel full time. FAQ:
- “OK, but where do you live?” It’s equally true that I live wherever I am at that moment and that I live nowhere.
- “Where’s your home base?” Nowhere.
I’ve learned that I like to stay in a place for at least several weeks to figure out its rhythms, my favorite restaurants, and meet new friends before I move on. That’s why in 2015 I spent three months and two months in Buenos Aires and a month each in Madrid, Belgrade, and Bucharest.
But I also took shorter trips to Japan, Cuba, Colombia, and several European countries, plus a few trips to visit family in Hawaii. Here’s where I slept for the nights of 2015:
Camping: 2 Nights
I wish this number were 10 times higher.
I trekked and camped from December 29, 2014 to January 2, 2015 in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, so that was one night in 2015.
I camped a night in Maui at Oheo Gulch with a friend.These were two of my favorite experiences all year, so I would like to incorporate more camping and trekking into my life in 2016 and beyond. I don’t travel with a tent, but that would start making more sense if I were to camp more.
Hostel: 16 Nights
Eight years ago, traveling meant hostels for me, ideally for $5 a night.
Hostels are my back up, back up plan at this point. I only like to stay in them if I will be in a town for 1-2 nights–making Airbnb not a good option–and I am traveling alone, so I want the social environment of a hostel.
I can still enjoy hostels in small doses, but they bore me quickly because they are the same everywhere, and I consider meeting other travelers less interesting than meeting locals.
Airbnb: 35 Nights
(I’m only counting stays of under two weeks in this category. I also found most of the 208 nights in apartments on Airbnb, but I often booked those outside of Airbnb and I consider the longer stays of a different character.)
Renting on Airbnb a place with a kitchen in the part of town where I want to spend my days is the ideal way for me to travel to a city for three days to a week.
These stays in Bogota, Helsinki, Riga, and Vilnius were top notch.
Apartments: 208 Nights
If I want to be in a place for a month or longer, I want to be in one apartment with a kitchen where I can cook my specialties and with space to entertain guests. I search Airbnb, Craigslist, and Google for apartments, but I always try to transact directly with the owner to save cash.
These long stays in Buenos Aires and Belgrade had perfect lodging. In Madrid, I started to hate my apartment, which had only an interior window because it got very little natural light. In Bucharest, the apartment was a s—hole, but it was represented accurately online, so I really only have myself to blame.
Redeye Flights: 8 Nights
The first three in economy, and the last five in flat beds. I think I got good sleep on all eight redeyes.
Hotel: 15 Nights
A friend and I enjoyed Westin Maui for two nights on points, and I used an expiring Hyatt free night certificate at the Grand Hyatt in Washington.
I don’t stay at hotels often because I can get a cheaper, better place with Airbnb, but I do like my occasional stays in nice hotels on points. They’re a fun treat.
Motels: 14 Nights
When I was watching basketball and heading to reunions on the East Coast, I was burning Choice Privileges Points for stays at Econolodges or booking similar $40-a-night motels that are frankly gross. Still I’d rather save the money over a nicer hotel if I’m going to be rarely in the room.
Friends: 15 Nights
Family: 41 Nights
I love visiting friends and family, and I’ll sleep on whatever surface is available from a spare bed to an air mattress to couch cushions on the floor because the couch isn’t long enough.
I especially love that home cooking I can’t replicate myself in foreign apartments, and the extra tennis and golf that family visits entail.
Casas Particulares: 7 Nights
Every night in Cuba, I stayed at a casa particular, which is just Spanish for “private home.”
Although I had my own entry at both casas, it is still different from a standard Airbnb experience because the homeowner is living on the premises and offers to cook.
CouchSurfing: 3 Nights
I looked at Airbnb prices in Zurich, and like every price in Europe, they were through the roof. I looked at hostel prices and balked again. I was traveling solo, so I didn’t want to waste the points, so I fired up CouchSurfing. This was my first stay in a few years, and it was a good one. I got to see a residential area a short train ride from the city center, made a new friend, and saw the city through the eyes of a local.
For more info on CouchSurfing, which is staying free on strangers’ couches, see Everything You Need to Know about CouchSurfing
The Best Parts
There were only two nights in 2015 where I paid rent on two places. (I went to Transylvania for the weekend and booked a hostel while I still had an Airbnb in Bucharest.)
One reason travel is expensive for many people is that they need to book a hotel on top of the rent or mortgage at a home that they aren’t even using while they travel. I completely avoid that by traveling full time.
I estimate that I spent less than $11,000 on accommodation. That’s about six months worth of rent in Waikiki where I last lived before going nomadic.
For cutting my accommodation bill in half, I think the quality held up nicely.
Where did you sleep in 2015? Did you spend more nights in hotels than this travel blogger?