Where to stay?
Decide where you want to go and what you want to see and do. If you’re a baby boomer like me, and you want to stay in budget accommodation, you may not want to stay in a 20-bed dormitory. But many “backpacker hostels” have wonderful twin or triple rooms.
In fact, one of the most amazing places I have ever stayed is in one of the tower rooms of Stahleck Castle, a medieval castle on the banks of the Rhine for the princely sum of $A17 per person per night.
We had the whole tower room to ourselves with views both up and down the Rhine. And how did we find this hidden gem? Research!
Tips for baby boomers: Budget staying in the city
If you are visiting cities, my recommendation is that you stay either out in the suburbs with great public transport connections or stay right in the centre of the Old Town in an original building.
Staying in the suburbs has several advantages. You are usually in a non-tourist area and pay the prices that the locals pay for groceries, transport and restaurant meals.
You have a better chance of actually meeting locals who will tell you the best places to shop and to eat. Locals will also tell you what their favourite spots are and not just the highly promoted “10 things you must see”.
The best thing about staying in the Old Town or Centre-Ville is you can generally walk to everything! But be prepared to pay tourist prices. So if you’re staying for only a couple of days, the centre may suit you better, but for longer sojourns, your best bet is the suburbs.
For more than one night, guest-houses with just a few rooms, and Airbnb accommodation are so much more comfortable than a hotel. Read reviews before you book.
Arrive at your accommodation before nightfall. It’s much easier to find anywhere in daylight! Be prepared to change your plans. Our best stay was one we booked at the last minute.
When staying at a budget accommodation in a village or small town…
Try to find an Airbnb or private accommodation where you actually stay with your hosts in their village or farmhouse. They will be able to tell you what services the village offers, as well as what days markets happen in their village or surrounding villages.
If it’s a much smaller village, they will be able to tell you what days the butcher or fruiterer visits. Most villages have their own bakery where villagers purchase fresh baguettes every morning for breakfast. Your hosts will also tell you of any upcoming festivals or special events.
As a baby boomer, I love to get involved in the day-to-day life of the village and consequently prefer to stay in a village for at least 2 weeks, preferably a month or two.
If you’re learning the language, staying with a family will greatly improve your comprehension as well as your speaking. You’re guaranteed to have a lot of laughs!