for those who travel from place to place, how do you find hostels, hotels and such?
i'm loosely planning a trip to belgium and the netherlands this autumn.
but i can't just walk around hoping to walk into a hostel or hotel, and if i do i won't know how the prices are compared to the others.
alternatively i could just stay in amsterdam, and do day trips to locations i want to see like edam and brussels.
i don't have a smartphone and i'm not getting one either.
For a short trip I just book all accommodation ahead; if I ever have to cancel, hostels pretty much always allow you to do so without costs up to 24 hours in advance, though the booking deposit is still lost (but then, I don't even remember the last time I actually cancelled a booking - it's a very rare thing for me). For a longer trip I take my laptop and book 2-3 locations ahead, depending on how firm my itinerary is. (If I know I'll be somewhere during high season, I'll book more and further ahead - I'm rather picky with where I'm staying.)
For hostels, I generally use the accommodation section here on travellerspoint for initial research and booking, googling for some additional reviews once I've narrowed down my selection. I've pretty much stopped looking at lonely planets for accommodation selection, though used to do that a lot in the past, and might still grab one if I'm going to a completely unknown location, just to get an initial overview of suburbs and basic quality.
Yes Lonely Planet is pretty much useless these days. Listings are at least one year old by the time they make it to print, and more often older since many destinations are not revisited every year.
I use to use accommodation listings, but they don't have the massive market share that TripAdvisor has. You have to learn how to use it, ie sort through some fake postings from the business owner, or negative feed back from someone that is never satisfied with anything and just likes to complain. But used properly it's indispensable as a travel tool.
As far as not wanting to carry a smart phone. I hear ya there, and am still fighting with that one myself. I must say I look enviously at those that can check information on the fly. But I guess you can still find enough internet cafe's to research your next few days then do it again in a week for the following days. I travel with a laptop and most accommodations have wifi to be able to check my forwarding accommodations.
I always use hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com. I look for location and hostels that are cheap with good reviews. Some hostels are more favourable with younger, partying crowds amd others quieter. St christophers is usually good and many throughout europe. Im a last minute book kind of person and I never had troubles in NL and belgium. If you know dates i'd reccomend booking ahead though.
it seems like you all book in advance.
i've always thought those travelling around for a month or more, just showed up somewhere and then trying to find a place to stay.
i think i will book in advance too, seeing this will be a shorter trip, maximum 2 weeks.
now if time could just fast forward to september.
trying to pass time with learn dutch videos on youtube and thinking on what to pack.
check out couchsurfing.org for information-its free; a great way to meet locals by staying at thier home for free, and definatly a unique experience. There are members all over the world.