Alternative Accomodations

There are a variety of other accommodations that most overlook when planning their travels to Ireland. These places are often less expensive and more culturally immersive than their traditional counter parts.

Barnacles Hostel Galway

Barnacles Hostel, Galway. Photo courtesy of Barnacles Hostels.

Hostels

Hostels are broadly known for rowdy backpackers, sleepless nights and cheap accommodations. While this all may true at some locations, hostels can be fantastic places to spend the night.

Most have a variety of room types for you to choose from, including private rooms with a bathroom ensuite, large male or female only rooms, or co-ed dorms.

The larger the dorm, the lower you pay. Some private rooms can be just as expensive as a B&B depending on the location, so make sure you compare prices.

In a hostel you will have access to a kitchen stocked with pots, pans and utensils. This also saves you money on the food budget.

Often people tend to think they are too old for a hostel, but travelers young and old seek them out. If you have an open mind and enjoy meeting people from differing backgrounds, then you should look into a hostel.

There are a couple of things to note while staying at a hostel.

Remember there are really no private spaces in a hostel unless you have a private room. Be aware of others if you are coming in late. Also note that some patrons might not be as nice as you – bring ear plugs just in case.

Keep your space clean, including after using the bathroom, shower, or kitchen.

Use the lockers provided to keep your belongings secure. While you would like to trust everyone, it is always better to be safe.

One of the primary reasons to stay in a hostel is to meet new people. You might be afraid or nervous at first, but put yourself out there and introduce yourself. You might find a kindred spirit or two.

Camping

For a rustic and inexpensive stay, think about camping in Ireland.

Camping is one of the most economical options for the budget traveler. While you will likely have to pay a little extra in airport baggage fees, you will save a bundle in traditional accommodation expenses.

Camping in Ireland

Camping in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Edmittance.

If you are interested in camping, it is worth doing a little research before you arrive. There are various campsites around the island. Most are equipped with showers, toilets and hook-ups. The websites below suggest many locations. to pitch a tent.

http://www.camping-ireland.ie/

http://www.totalcampingireland.ie/

Quick tip: Leave the cooking fuel at home. Stores like Tesco should have all you need for the week.

CouchSurfing

Often thought of as “free” accommodation, CouchSurfing is a fantastic way to be immersed in the culture of Ireland. The premise of CouchSurfing is to stay on a local person’s couch or spare room for a true cultural exchange. You will learn about them, they will learn about you. It is simply a grassroots effort to try to bring peace and understanding to a world of chaos. No money is exchanged for the stay.

To be a member of the CouchSurfing community all you need to do is to sign-up for a free account on www.couchsurfing.com. From there you can begin your search for accommodation all over Ireland. Make sure you completely fill out the profile with a picture, interests and all, because hosts screen their applicants, just as you will screen them.

Understandably, most people are initially concerned with the idea of sleeping in a stranger’s home.  However, thousands of people have safe and successful stays every night. It is important to be vigilant when selecting a place to stay. Use the feedback, reviews, and verified rating system to help in this process.

Couch

Is it place to sit or sleep? Perhaps both! Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meganmakes.

A few tips:

Check the references and comments of people you invite into your home or homes you would like to stay. Go with your gut. If it looks ok, but something is telling you no – move on and find another location.

If you are a female travelling alone, use common sense. Stay with another female or a couple with great reviews.

Keep your “couch space” clean. It sounds like a no brainer but you are going into another person’s home- clean up after yourself and be gracious.  You are, after all, getting to stay there for free.

Airbnb

Another great way to save a dollar or two is to try Airbnb. This is also a grass roots effort to offer a stay in someone’s home at a low cost. Airbnb’s are not usually operated as a board-certified B&B, but is rather simply someone looking to make a little extra money by opening up a room in their home. Often their prices are less expensive than a regular B&B, but the service is usually similar.

The number of places to say in Ireland on Airbnb is growing exponentially. To book, search a geographic area you are interested in staying and complete the booking form of a place that looks suitable to you. Once the owner indicates the room is available and you make a payment, the exact address of the B&B will be revealed.

The host sets the refund policy so double-check the cancellation period. Airbnb does charge a percentage fee for their service that is non-refundable.

Like a regular B&B you have an instant concierge embedded into the cost of the room. Hosts are often most knowledgeable of the local scene and will suggest things to do and see. Breakfast may or may not be included in the cost of the room, but you may have access to the kitchen. Take note of this before you book.

Similar to CouchSurfing, always remember you are still saying in someone’s home. Use the rating systems and recommendations to help find a good place. Be sure to be quiet in the evening or early morning, and of course clean up after yourself. Most importantly, use this experience to get know an Irish person or family and make your trip even more memorable.