TTI was scrolling down through some travel websites in my laptop and realised something. There are two types of travellers that you will find nowadays. The “Instagram Wanderlust” travellers who will post the most luxurious pictures of the resorts where they were staying in their last vacation. The other one is the “Your wallet matters” travellers like us who focus on exploring the maximum while cutting down the budget at the same time. One of our main focus during our trips is to save as much money on lodging because you cannot cut corners on the match tickets. We have realised over the years that while a major chunk of money during travelling goes into accommodation, a large part can be saved as well. However, the key to save money while travelling for football tournaments is to set your priorities right. When you are travelling to watch any global sports tournament like FIFA World Cup or EURO Cup, and your budget is tight, you have to do some research on the accommodations available in the place that you are visiting.
We had researched a lot on the accommodation expenses in Russia even before booking the tickets for the football tournament. Our FIFA World Cup 2018 plan was majorly dependent on how much we can afford on accommodation expenses for 15-20 days stay. Without further adieu, let’s look at some tips to follow to save money on lodging while travelling to major football tournaments:
1) Stay in Hostels
Hostels- Undoubtedly it is the best form of accommodation and a life saver for a football traveller. Why? Because hostels are cheap and also you get to meet fans from all around the world in the dormitories and shared lounge area. During a big tournament like World Cup or Euro Cup that is one of the biggest attractions. You not only get to save a lot of money but also get to learn about different cultures around the world. You will surely enjoy the debates among the football fans. It is also ideal if you are travelling solo. We had stayed mostly in hostels during our stay in Russia and it has cost us an average of 500 roubles (Rs. 500-550) per day in Russia.
Dormitory beds in KD Hostel Kaliningrad
2)Travel in Groups
We know these days solo travelling is a cool thing, in fact, a solo traveller will probably give you a hundred and one reasons to travel solo. However, I am giving you a strong reason for why you should travel in groups. It will save you a significant amount of money and I am not even joking here. Usually, when you book apartments, 3-4 people are allowed to sleep. If four people share the cost of renting the apartment, cost per head becomes very cheap. Sometimes even cheaper than hostels and you can also have an entire apartment to yourselves. Moreover, football is more enjoyable when you watch it with your friends.
Arindam Enjoying A Football Match With His Friends In His Home Town Kolkata
3) Use The Couch Surfing Platform
If you have been following travel blogs and channels, you already know about this. This is a community where people offer accommodation, guidance, and company to tourists free of cost. Sounds exciting, isn’t it? It works like this… If you are traveling to a certain place, you can request people on the portal for accommodation, guidance or whatever you are looking for. However, there a few disadvantages to this platform.
You must request hosts for lodging and it is the discretion of the host that whether they will provide you lodging or not. Also, many people had bad experiences with their hosts. Honestly, we haven’t used couch surfing yet (We have tried and failed – Will share the story in another post) so we are probably not the right people to comment on this. All we can say is that is a viable option which you can explore. We would love to hear your experiences on this.
4) Over Night Journey
This is a good way to save money on lodging. When you are backpacking or football travelling on a budget, you just need a place to sleep for the night. I am sure you will won’t mind whether it is a bunk bed in a train or a bus seat. Plan your intercity travels at night. Apart from reaching your destination, you are also saving money for that night. We travelled from St Petersburg to Moscow and from Moscow to Kazan on night trains provided by FIFA.
Arindam Before Boarding The Night Train From St Petersburg to Moscow (Train in Background)
Also, you don’t want to spend your day on a bus or train instead of roaming around the city. In most countries, there are night buses and trains targeted to budget travellers.
5) Sleeping at Terminals
Many of you may cringe to this. You might be thinking that this is a very cheap thing to do. But believe me, many people in the travelling community do this to save money for on a night’s accommodation. We ourselves did this twice during our FIFA World Cup Trip to Russia this year. You will end up making new friends who are football fans themselves.
Soubhik Made Some Interesting Friends While We Spent A Night At Kaliningrad Airport
However, few words of caution before you try this.
- Be careful about your luggage. Don’t leave your luggage and go off to the loo. Your bag probably won’t be stolen but you may grab the attention of the bomb squad. This happened to us at Kaliningrad Airport.
- Keep adequate garments which you can grab quickly without unpacking your entire bag. Airports can get cold and you may want extra clothing.
- Always carry an eye mask if you are sleeping on terminals. It will be a life saver. There is an entire website dedicated to this, so we will stop right over here. Go check out sleepinginairports.net. It has hundreds of tips and tricks to use while sleeping at airports around the world. It also has airport guides and reviews. You will find most of the airport in the world in their database.
6) Book Early
This one is obvious. Book your accommodations early so that you avoid the rush and grab the good deals that is valid only for a particular duration. Therefore, set notifications on your phone or mail so that you get to know the hot deals that various accommodation websites offer.
We Booked Early And Got This Entire Loft To Ourselves At Cheap Rate (650 Roubles Per Head Per Night)
It had a Piano and Guitar As Well. Soubhik Is A Musician BTW, Couldn’t Resist A Selfie
7) Book At The Last Minute
Yes, we are self-contradicting ourselves. But we are saying this from our experience. We will share an incident here to justify this. We were flying from Kaliningrad to St Petersburg during the FIFA World Cup in Russia. We reached St Petersburg at around 11 PM. Few hours before leaving Kaliningrad, we realised that the hostel we had booked for at St Petersburg has closed down for some reason. When we reached St Petersburg we were not in a mood to spend money on lodging for the night. So we slept at the airport. Next morning we decided to book our accommodation. We booked a hostel for 450 Roubles per head per night in the city centre. The hostel was quite decent and also provided some free food. When we were looking for hostels on the same dates couple of months back, we did not get such cheap rates. This is probably because the match that we were seeing was not great [It was Switzerland vs Sweden]. Many expected it to be Brazil vs Germany which did not happen; so probably a lot of booking was cancelled and thus the price drop.
The Big Lounge At Mon Ami Hostel St Petersburg. We Enjoyed Couple Of Football Match In This Area.
We will not recommend you to take the risk and wait for booking your accommodation till the last minute. We would rather suggest you book something and look for other cheaper options. If you have the option of free cancellation on your previous booking, cancel it and book the cheaper option later.
We will share with you the websites that we used to book our lodging which will help you to plan your next budget travelling trip.
8) Resources – Websites we use to book our lodging
This is probably the largest database for accommodations from all around the world. You can find a number of accommodations that suit your budget. More importantly, in many hostels/hotels, you don’t even have to pay or provide credit card details while booking. Moreover, the cancellation is free almost till the last minute. Most of the time, we end up using this portal for booking our accommodation.
This one is ideal if you wish to stay among the locals. The portal is similar to couch surfing but here you have to pay money to the host. Till date, we have used this portal once. This was in Kazan and our experience was excellent. We got an entire loft of 500 sq ft to ourselves with attached bathroom and toilet. The price was cheap as well (700 INR per person per night). The downside of this portal is that like couch surfing the host needs to accept your request for lodging. And the host as the authority to cancel the booking if he/she wishes to do so. Another disadvantage downside is you have to pay for the booking upfront. All in all, it is a good platform you can give it a try.
Our Airbnb Host Elena And Her Cat
- Oyo Rooms
When traveling within India we use this the most. It is a very new portal and only been around for 2-3 years. But they have grown up to be a reliable brand. They have standardised a set of amenities that they will provide. These usually include Oyo toiletry kit, AC rooms, free breakfast, flat screen TV etc. We have used this many times and experience have been good in most cases.
9) Things To Check while you are booking your lodging
Following are a few things you should always check while booking your accommodation.
- Free Wi-Fi
Among amenities, you will probably want free WIFI. This will keep you connected to your family and friends and can be your source of entertainment at the time. If you don’t want to spend money on local SIM card this is your best bet that you have got.
- Kitchen and/or breakfast
We will recommend booking accommodation which has a kitchen. When you are travelling for 10-15 days, it is ideal not to eat store-bought food for all your meals. Instead, buy local produce and cook your meals. If not all, at least some. We will do a separate post on this as well. Also, inquire if they offer free breakfast. It is bliss when you wake up to a nice breakfast in the morning. It will get you started for the day and won’t have worry about making your own or stopping for breakfast at an expensive café.
Arindam Preparing Dinner At Amalienau Hostel, Kaliningrad, Russia
Make sure your hostel/hotel gives to you access to a personal locker. Though it is best to carry all our valuables whenever you are leaving the hostel. But you still want to have them under lock and key while you are at the loo or in the kitchen.
Bunk Beds and Lockers (Left Side Of The Picture) at Amalienau Hostel, Kaliningrad, Russia
- Payment on Arrival
Try to book accommodations which offer payment on arrival. Sometimes accommodations will be significantly different from what you see on the website. This makes it easy for you to opt out if you do like it on your arrival.
- Water purifier/softner
While travelling many people fall ill due to water-borne diseases. You should be wise on where you drink your water from. Store bought water is the safest. But when travelling in western countries this can become very expensive. So try to book accommodations which have water purifier or water softener (tap water is drinkable in many countries, but the water may be hard).
Water Softener At Amalienau Hostel, Kaliningrad, Russia
- Washing machine & Iron
When you are budget travelling it is likely that you are travelling very light. You only have a couple of pair of clothes with you. But on a 15 days trip, your clothes are bound to get dirty. If you have an option of washing the clothes in a machine you won’t have to wash them yourself at the shower. Most of the hostels/apartments charge you money for the using the washing machine but it is quite cheap.
Our Clothes Washed Drying At Elena’s Place in Kazan, Russia
- Double check the dorm
If you are not comfortable staying in the same dormitory with someone of your opposite sex double check whether your booking is in a mixed dorm.
- Check the reviews
Check reviews of the accommodation you are booking. Don’t limit yourselves on checking the reviews provided on the portal but also on Google reviews. Google reviews are usually more reliable.
Let us know in the comments whether you have any other advice on how to book accommodations and what the potential pitfalls one can avoid.