When planning a trip away, there are two things we look at before anything else: transport and accommodation. For accommodation, there's a tendency to go straight onto Google and search for a hotel or B&B. It's an automatic mechanism fed to us by friends and family, and it's not our fault. But this option isn't necessarily the best way to experience a location - not by far. Hotels and B&Bs are for those who like the comfort and familiarity of standard hotel rooms and continental breakfast fare. If you're anything like me though, you want something a bit more authentic - above average - when you travel. So here are some accommodation suggestions to consider instead.
Particularly if you're a city dweller, escaping the urban maze for a cottage in the beautiful countryside is an excellent accommodation option. Not only will you feel like you're staying in a home away from home - with beautiful views and serene atmosphere - but you'll have the opportunity to relax by shopping for local produce and cooking the food you want whenever you want. Go local and rent an independently-owned holiday cottage through a website like Independent Cottages.
Pop singer Ed Sheeran references Couchsurfing on his debut album "+", and he's one of millions who take advantage of the unique opportunity to stay in somebody's home with them for free when you travel. During his early days of touring, he headed around the UK and much of Europe, moving from sofa to sofa to save money and help make ends meet. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to feel comfortable staying at a stranger's house, but this option does offer authenticity and local insight, and may be a good choice for solo travellers.
There's something very special and incredibly relaxing about being close to the water, so next time you travel, why not think about boat accommodation? Many Europeans cities with rivers running through them such as Amsterdam offer rooms on houseboats or hotelboats. In Egypt, you can spend your nights sleeping on a traditional felucca boat, peacefully resting atop the River Nile, close enough to get your toes wet. Now surely that's much more appealing than some characterless hotel!
Have you seen the film The Holiday? Swapping homes with someone from across the world isn't a Hollywood invention - it's possible for anyone to do it. There are a myriad of websites to advertise your own home on and seek out others looking for an adventure. Obviously it's important to exercise some caution, but this is a cost-effective and exciting type of accommodation to experience.
For more travel advice and inspiration, visit Take on the Road.