When you’re travelling the world while working remotely, choosing the right accommodation can make or break your experience. With so many options available, how do you decide on the best place to call your temporary home? One of the most common dilemmas you might face is whether to stay in a hostel or an Airbnb. Let’s explore which one might be best in your specific situation.
To kick things off, let’s give an overview of some of the differences, as ranked by a 5 star system. If I absolutely had to choose a winner here, I would have to go with an Airbnb (only because Couchsurfing wasn’t in the mix!). Granted, there are a TON of variables here. Single travellers, cost, the country that you’re in, etc…so many variables. But generally speaking, the convenience, privacy, and long-term ability to stay makes it the winner. I would never choose Airbnb if I was in cheaper countries where I could get an easy hostel dorm or even private room, but that’s not always the case (and honestly, hostel prices are always rising recently…).
Hostel: Pros and Cons
Hostels have long been a popular choice for travelers on a budget, but they also offer some unique advantages for remote workers.
- Affordability: We all know that hostels are known for their budget-friendly prices, making them an ideal choice for remote workers and nomads who are looking to save money. You can usually find a bed in a shared dorm for a fraction of the cost of a private Airbnb. Even if you opt for a room in a hostel it’s likely to be cheaper than an Airbnb.
- Social environment: Hostels are known for their lively, social atmosphere. They often have common areas where you can meet other travellers, participate in events, or even join a coworking space. This can be a great way to make friends and network with like-minded individuals.
- Shared amenities and facilities: Hostels typically offer shared amenities like kitchens, laundry facilities, and sometimes even coworking spaces. These can help you save money and maintain a routine similar to what you might have at home.
- Lack of privacy: The biggest downside of staying in a hostel is the lack of privacy. Unless you’re in a private room, you’ll usually be sharing a room with several other people, which can make it difficult to find a quiet place to work or relax under certain circumstances.
- Limited personal space: In addition to sharing a room, you’ll also have limited personal space for your belongings. This can make it challenging to create a comfortable workspace or store your belongings securely. Most often this won’t be a major issue, as you will probably have minimal luggage if you’re fully or semi-nomadic.
- Noise and potential distractions: Hostels can be noisy and bustling, which might be great for socializing but not ideal for focused work. If you’re sensitive to noise or require a quiet environment to work, a hostel might not be the best option for you.
Airbnb: Pros and Cons
Airbnb offers a wide variety of accommodation options for remote workers, from private rooms to entire apartments or houses. Let’s explore the pros and cons of choosing an Airbnb for your remote work stay.
- Privacy and personal space: Unlike hostels, Airbnb accommodations generally offer more privacy and personal space. You can choose to rent a private room or an entire apartment, allowing you to create a comfortable workspace and have a dedicated area to relax and unwind.
- Home-like environment: Airbnb accommodations often feel more like a home away from home, with fully-equipped kitchens, living rooms, and sometimes even outdoor spaces. This can make it easier to maintain a routine and feel comfortable during a longer stay.
- Ability to choose location and type of accommodation: With Airbnb, you have the flexibility to choose from a wide range of locations and types of accommodation. This allows you to find the perfect place that suits your needs, preferences, and budget.
- Good for business autonomy: The ability to book and pay for another employee’s Airbnb for company travel is very appealing. Great pro for managers.
- Can be more expensive: Airbnb accommodations tend to be more expensive than hostels, especially if you’re renting an entire apartment or house. However, if you’re staying for several weeks or months, you may be able to negotiate a discounted long-term rate with the host.
- Lack of social interaction: Staying in an Airbnb can be a more isolating experience compared to a hostel. You won’t have the same opportunities to meet other travelers and make connections unless you actively seek them out through local events or coworking spaces.
- Host quality and experience may vary: While many Airbnb hosts are professional and reliable, there can be some variability in the quality of accommodations and the host’s responsiveness. Be sure to read reviews and communicate with the host to ensure a smooth stay.
Factors to Consider When Making a Decision Between Them
Now that we’ve explored the pros and cons of both hostels and Airbnbs, let’s take a look at some key factors to consider when deciding which option is the best fit for your remote work lifestyle.
One of the main factors to consider when choosing between a hostel and an Airbnb is your budget. Hostels tend to be more affordable, especially if you’re willing to stay in a shared dormitory. However, if you have a bit more money to spend and value privacy and personal space, an Airbnb might be worth the extra cost.
Length of stay
The length of your stay is another important consideration. If you’re only planning to stay for a few days or weeks, a hostel might be a more practical and budget-friendly option. However, if you’re planning to stay for several weeks or months, an Airbnb could provide a more comfortable and home-like environment, making it easier to maintain a routine and feel settled.
Think about your work requirements and the type of environment you need to be productive. If you require a quiet, distraction-free space to work, an Airbnb might be a better choice. On the other hand, if you’re able to work in a more bustling environment and appreciate the opportunity to network with other travelers, a hostel might be the way to go.
Your social preferences should also play a role in your decision. If you enjoy meeting new people and participating in group activities, a hostel’s lively atmosphere might be perfect for you. If you prefer a more private and quiet space to recharge after work, an Airbnb would be a better fit.
Location and access to amenities
Finally, consider the location and access to amenities when choosing between a hostel and an Airbnb. Hostels are often centrally located and close to public transportation, making it easy to explore your surroundings. Airbnbs can be found in a wider range of locations, allowing you to choose a place that best fits your needs and preferences, whether that’s close to a coworking space, grocery stores, or local attractions.
Making the Most of Your Choice
Regardless of whether you choose a hostel or an Airbnb, there are some strategies you can use to make the most of your accommodation and enhance your remote work experience. Weigh the following, when making a choice:
How to find the best hostels and Airbnbs for remote work
- Look for accommodations that mention “remote work friendly” or “digital nomad friendly” in their descriptions.
- Read reviews from other remote workers to gauge the suitability of the accommodation for your needs.
- Use filters on accommodation booking websites to find places with strong Wi-Fi, dedicated workspaces, or other essential amenities.
- Establish a clear routine that separates work hours from leisure time.
- Create a dedicated workspace within your accommodation, even if it’s just a small corner with a comfortable chair and a table.
- Make time to explore your surroundings and engage in local activities to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Incorporating routines to stay productive
- Establish a consistent daily routine to help you stay focused and productive while working remotely.
- Set clear work hours and breaks, and try to stick to them as closely as possible.
- Use productivity tools and techniques to help you manage your tasks and stay on track.
Adapting to a semi-nomadic lifestyle
- Embrace the flexibility and unpredictability of a semi-nomadic lifestyle by staying open to new experiences and adapting your routine as needed.
- Maintain a balance between work, travel, and personal interests to avoid burnout.
- Stay connected with friends and family back home to maintain a sense of stability and support.
In summary, both hostels and Airbnbs have their unique advantages and drawbacks for remote workers. Hostels are more budget-friendly and offer a lively social environment, while Airbnbs provide more privacy, personal space, and a home-like setting. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your individual needs, preferences, and work requirements.
Is it possible to negotiate long-term stays at hostels or Airbnbs? Yes, it’s often possible to negotiate discounted rates for long-term stays at both hostels and Airbnbs. Reach out to the host or property manager directly to discuss your plans and inquire about possible discounts.
Are there alternative accommodation options for remote workers? Yes, there are alternative accommodation options such as co-living spaces, serviced apartments, and house-sitting opportunities that cater specifically to remote workers and digital nomads.
What are the best digital nomad-friendly countries to consider? Some popular nomad-friendly countries include Portugal, Estonia, Mexico, and Thailand. These countries offer a combination of affordable living costs, reliable internet access, and welcoming communities for remote workers.
How can I maintain a healthy work-life balance while living in a hostel or Airbnb? To maintain a healthy work-life balance, establish a clear routine that separates work hours from leisure time, create a dedicated workspace within your accommodation, and make time to explore your surroundings and engage in local activities.
What are some tools or accessories to make remote work more comfortable in either a hostel or Airbnb?
- A reliable laptop with a long battery life and suitable performance for your work tasks.
- A comfortable, ergonomic travel-friendly mouse and keyboard.
- Noise-canceling headphones to block out background noise and improve focus.
- A portable laptop stand to help maintain proper posture while working.
- A quality backpack that can securely hold your devices and work essentials while you’re on the move.
Jared has worked remotely for 15 years in various marketing capacities, and has managed hundreds of marketing campaigns along the way. He has held freelance, agency, and in-house positions for companies large and small.