I think that I now have a thing for hotels with Jewish names. I have found two good value hotels in a row that go by the name of Hotel Shalom. I found a double room in the Hotel Shalom in Palenque, Mexico for 150 pesos, or $15. Mira and I landed this hotel on our first shot off the bus. It is a very rare occurance that I stay in the first hotel that I walk into subsequent to coming into a new town. I treat hotels as if they are my homes; so I go into one, check out another, ask about a third, and then after walking around a town for around an hour (or sometimes more), decide on where I will live for a certain stretch of my travels.
Finding a home is sometimes hard work. I do not like dealing with taxi drivers or paying them for what is most often an unneccessary service, so 95% of the time I walk with my pack on going into every cheap looking hotel that I can find. When I find a hotel that looks to have potential, I enter and talk a little with a manager, find out the price, check out the room, inspect the locks, make sure the water works if it has a bathroom, make sure there is not an excessive amount of blood or semen on the sheets (not joking), and then usually try to talk the manager into taking a lesser price. If everything clicks, then I will stay; if not, then I will go. When searching for a hotel I sometimes feel like a mountain man foraging for sticks and stones in the deep woods of some mountains side to construct a hut: I simply do not take my hotel selection process lightly.
Finding a hotel in a new town is a hunt for value, and not just price. If a hotel can give me free WIFI internet, a good breakfast, a clean bed, free soap, free drinking water, a nice staff that I suspect will not knick anything, and a decent environment I feel that it is sometimes worth twice the price of a cheap, crappy hotel that does not offer these amenities. I add up the prices of what I need in a day, and try to find a hotel that offers some of my neccessesties included in the price. In point, I want a lot for a little, and I am willing to search of what I want. I usually find it. One thing that traveling has given me is a nose for a good value.
I have found that, in the end, the cheapest hotels are often times not always the cheapest. The hunt for a hotel is a hunt for value.
I hunt and search the world for the cheapest ways of living that I possibly can find. This is often times a lot of work. In fact, I think of saving money as a job of sorts: because saving five dollars a night on a hotel room is essentially the same as making five dollars working. I make an average of five to ten dollars a day between this website and writing magazine articles. This is not a lot of money. In point, I need to save every last dime that jungles in my pockets least I will end up “on the beach” and without a penny (and I will have to get a real job rather than working on Vagabond Journey.com full time haha).
This work of saving money in travel is sometimes a major hassle. I admit it, it is real work walking around a tropical city under the hot tropical sun, sweating profusely with a full rucksack on your back for hours on end while looking for a cheap place to sleep. I find that I usually do this at every stop I make. The search for the cheapest hotel at the best value usually takes me around an hour, and I will often times check out ten hotels in a town just to walk out of them.
Travel is not a vacation; travel is very often work.
Which brings me back to the hotel that I found in Palenque, Mexico. It is called the Hotel Shalom (same name as the Hotel Shalom in Antigua that I just left) and it was the first hotel in this town that Mira and I checked out. We walked in and asked the price of the cheapest double room. The guy behind the check-in counter said $20. This price is a little steep for us, but, as we have been warned that hotels are expensive in Mexico, we asked to see the room, and were given a key. The room was nice: it had a shower, a toilet, and even a TV, the sheets were not strewn with semen stains, and the floor seemed to have been swept at least once this year. This seemed to be a good hotel, but we were not willing to spend $10 each without shopping around for a while.
So Mira and I asked the hotel guy if he had any cheaper rooms and he said that he didn’t. So we went to leave to go and look elsewhere. But something about watching us run for the door must have jogged his memory a little, as he called us back and said that all of a sudden remembered that there was a room in the hotel for $15.
I think $7.50 each is not a bad price to pay for a hotel in Pelenque, Mexico on a sweltering hot day where I would slightly loathe walking around town for hours trying to save a dollar. Neither Mira nor I felt like digging deep into this town under the hot Mexican midday sun, so we quickly accepted $15 as a decent price and went to move into an adequate hotel room.
We have now found a base of operations in Palenque, Mexico. Later in the day Mira and I went to check out some other nearby hotels, and all of them were more expensive than what we paid and most were of far lesser quality. I think we scored a good value at the Hotel Shalom in Palenque.
This hotel is good enough to hang out it. This says a lot.
I did my job well and found a good value, saved $5, and am relaxing as Mira watches cartoons on the TV.
In the words of the Hobotraveler, “It is far easier to save $20 than it is to make $20.”
This is true, so I work on the Road at saving money for the Road.