I am about to spend three months in Europe backpacking with a couple of mates. I leave on the 27th of May and get back on the 5th of September
I am wondering if it is still possible to get hostels in France and Spain in the high season without prebooking?
I have heard that most of the hostels are booked out in the high season, and it can be hard to find any with available beds.
I don't want to have to prebook everything as I presume I will want to go to different places that I learn about once I get there and I don't want to be locked into anything.
Hello. I thought the same thing about staying in Spain. It is Semana Santa right now.. and when I was in Madrid for the last 4 days I had to seach every day for a new place to stay. I may have been unlucky, but my first place was 60eu when my budget is about 30eu, and preferably less than that! then the second place had roaches, and the 3rd place was..interesting. and not what I thought at all. So my advice is, if there is a festival, or you know its going to be busy, book early. especially hostels. Since they are cheap and online, they book up quickly. However, you can do a combination, book about half of them to give you room for change. Or, book as you go along..that way you can choose where to go. It also saves time and stress. I really didnt have time to do anything in madrid because I had to look for a place to stay all the time! hehe, well good luck... I am learning as I go along, and I bet you will too.
There's no need to book months in advance, but i would recommend going to an internet cafe every couple days when you know where your next destination is and booking a hostel for when you arrive. It's a good midpoint between having an unbreakable itinery and being free to wander anywhere, as you'll be able to change your mind where you're going from city to city, as well as not ending up being stuck without anywhere to stay. As therook said, if you don't book ahead you can end up spending a long time looking for accomodation that can turn out to be pretty bad, rather than enjoying your trip.
Definitely pre book. I was in Spain when it was about shoulder season so not peak but not low, and I had to look everywhere for a hostel to stay at. I searched everywhere in both Madrid and Barcelona, I only found one place that had a vacancy and on both occasions they were trashy dumps in not such a nice area and still were in the upper price bracket for hostels despite all of the inconveniences. So as soon as you know the date you are going to be in the place prebook.
In France I went in High Season and apart from when I was in Paris and it turned out that the Paris Marathon was on in a couple of days which had 1000's of people from around the world arrive, I had no other problems finding a place after about 3 hostels. It'd still be adviseable to book in advance as soon as you know where you are going to be.
If you are going to go to Russia especially Moscow and St Petersburg, you definitely need to book a real long way in advance and even plan your whole trip based upon your dates there, because the occasional day for July was even booked out as far back as December so if you leave it within a month you'll probably find every bed in the whole two cities hostels are completely booked out and you are limited to 5 star hotels if you are lucky. You need to get your visa a long time before you arrive and specify dates, so it shouldn't be too hard to know your dates of arrival and departure given that.
Also it would be a good idea to book for Italy in advance if you go, because if you miss out on hostels in Venice, you'll pay about 80 Euros+ for something like a crappy two star room which doesn't even have an inroom bathroom/toilet.
Have a great trip.
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 5, 2007, at 6:39 PM by aharrold45 ]
Thanks for all your help. This forum is an amazing resource for the first time traveller.
I'm thinking of just booking around four days in advance when I know where my next destination will be. Hopefully this should work out OK.
When I was backpacking I just had a look on the internet the day before/a few days before I left for the next place, wrote down a few hostels that looked allright and where available, went to each one and just decided where we wanted to stay. We didn't have a credit card so we couldn't prebook, but it worked out really well and we had no trouble..
Yeah... that sounds good.
Did you go in High Season? and did you find you were forced into paying more for hostels because of lack of availability?
I'm in the midst of an argument between the two people I'm travelling with about this at the moment. One doesn't want to book anything and the other wants to book absolutely everything.
I'm somewhere in the middle.
I travelled in July/August.
I did book places that I knew would be very busy, like Paris ahead of time and I booked in Athens because I knew we wouldn't get there until about 2 am and just didn't want to have the hassle of finding a place in the middle of the night.