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As solo travellers, one often finds hotels charging for two beds in a room. Cruises charge a double occupancy for cabins, usually. Even in hostels on a regular basis I've seen this happen if you want a private room.

Bargaining works sometimes, but pointing out that you'll use less electricity seems petty. What are some other tactics for keeping costs down as a solo traveller, and not just for accommodation?

edit: I should explain - hostels are fine, and hostel dorms are my preferred choice by far, especially for saving money and meeting people and swapping tips. But the last few cities I've been in in Central Asia just haven't had that sort of accommodation. As such I end up having to resort to a hotel, and the price difference is scary!

But I thought this might be a useful all-purpose how to save money as a solo traveller question, for others as well who may not use hostels.

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Is this a community wiki? Since it's asking for a list rather than one right answer and could also be subjective it's probably against SE policy unless made community wiki. (I do have lots of tips though!) –  hippietrail Jul 15 '11 at 11:45
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Figured someone would say that, and I'm up for it. How do we go about converting it to wiki as such? –  Mark Mayo Jul 15 '11 at 11:58
    
I think asking on Meta is best if one of our superiors doesn't just spot it here. –  hippietrail Jul 15 '11 at 12:06
    
'Related' reading: The Upgrade by Paul Carr –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 17 '11 at 4:03
    
Changed it now to a wiki now that I have the ability, hopefully that's all good. –  Mark Mayo Jul 30 '11 at 15:29

2 Answers 2

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+50

Ask for "the cheapest room".

You may be surprised. If I can't find a hostel or a cheapie hotel and have to stay at a regular tourist hotel I will find the cheapest one and then ask for the cheapest room. I once had to do this in Regensburg, Bavaria. When I said "Der billigste Zimmer" in my terrible German the check in man looked up at from behind his glasses and repeated what I had said. It turned out they had this one bizarre half-room just big enough for a single bed and with an odd non-matching door. I can't remember exactly but it was something like 20 euro instead of 50 euro and still included breakfast.

Other places when they are not full will offer you a discount when you ask this, and yet others will tell you something like "if you really want the cheapest place you might want to try this other place" and often warn you that it's in a dodgy area.

Another thing I've done a couple of times looking for a cheap bed is bump into another traveller looking for a cheap bed. With two of us we can find a hotel with a twin room (two separate beds). This worked for me in Batumi, Georgia last year and in Brunei years ago.

Do you also want tips not for private rooms?

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thanks, have updated question to reflect dorms. –  Mark Mayo Jul 16 '11 at 10:29
    
"Another thing I've done a couple of times looking for a cheap bed is bump into another traveller looking for a cheap bed." I've tried that a couple of times but my suggestion was always misinterpreted. Well, one time, that interpretation was actually correct, but the suggestion was still declined. –  Malvolio Sep 12 '11 at 11:14
    
It works best if you're both male, if not it works best if the female suggests it. (-: –  hippietrail Sep 12 '11 at 20:13
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@hippietrail: I would have thought two females would be seen as more common. –  Andrew Grimm Jan 20 '12 at 9:00
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Well I never tried it as two females (-; –  hippietrail Jan 20 '12 at 9:21

Many hostels / hotels offer single occupancy rooms so if you really want to stay in a private room, it's good to take some time to look up ones which do. CouchSurfing is an option, AirBnB is too although I've never used the latter. Charging for two people is the norm when booking accommodation, and I usually don't bother bargaining for lower prices. The "use less electricity" is on dodgy grounds anyway as it's probably not a big component of the cost of a room; it's about the lost opportunity to sell the bed to two people.

Another cost that adds up quickly when travelling is transportation. I mostly travel by public transportation but then there are certain journeys that cannot be made within a city without a taxi or inter-city travel that must be done by cars. Here, staying in a hostel helps as you can often share travel itineraries with other travellers and pool in together for a ride. It's more fun to share the experience, and it reduces costs. The easiest rides to share are ones from airports / train / bus stations as someone or the other does have to head the same way as you.

Joining up with other travellers also helps for joining tours, as many tours often have a minimum number of people needed to book one. Here's where you can bargain hard - especially when you've a large group and going to bar (this is useful if you have a group and happy hours are over - you can still often get discounts on your bill if you ask sweetly; make sure you sort this out before ordering), booking an adventure tour, etc - if you've a group of 3-4 people and above. All this usually works in Asia - your mileage may vary elsewhere in the world.

The 'problem', really, is often just overcoming the mental block of staying in a dorm or approaching a stranger to 'team up' for travelling. It doesn't always turn out to be a pleasant but it's an experience nevertheless. More often than not though, it is more fun, you get stories to tell, and helps reduce costs.

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updated question since people have mentioned hostels –  Mark Mayo Jul 16 '11 at 10:29

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