During our 6-months-road trip through Brazil we stayed at approximately 50 places. Most of them were hotels or Airbnbs. In this blog post you’ll see how we found beautiful hotels for our set accommodation budget of max $ 35 per night for 2 people.
Additionally, I want to share with you how we often got better deals than the hotels actually advertised!
Watch my video on the most beautiful budget hotels we’ve found in Brazil… or continue reading 🙂
If you know us, you’ll know that we’re not backpackers, and we’re not living anywhere permanently. For over a year now we’ve been traveling and working online without having a permanent place.
Our 6-months-road trip in Brazil
In the last six months we drove 20,000 km all over Brazil and stayed at approximately 50 different places. We started out staying wherever they gave us the best deal. We experimented a lot too. Sometimes we went for a small place for 15$ a night, sometimes a 5-star for 60$ for special occasions. However what we noticed soon was that the expensive hotels weren’t really that much better in value.
What we noticed more and more is that what’s most important to us is comfort. And that we are willing to pay for. Because you want to feel good wherever you go, right!?
Our budget for hotels
While we never save money on food, we did set a budget for accommodation. For us 35$ per night ended up being a suitable budget. Depending on where you travel or what your budget is, you might think it’s cheap or expensive. And I don’t want to tell you this is the cheapest way to travel, but I want to show you which beautiful places are out there and how I found them for our budget of 35$ per night or less.
So after staying at a number of hotels, we noticed how the expensive hotels weren’t really that much better in value. Then we started to think, how can we get what we need for comfortable living and still not pay more than our agreed budget?
What do we look for in a hotel?
Finally we came up with a few rules that we would follow when looking for a place. What counts for us is that a place checks our boxes:
AC (not so hard to find)
Big bed (at least Queen, which is so hard to find because they don’t advertise that online, so you need to ask about bed size first)
Stable Wifi (people usually don’t know how bad their Wifi is until they meet Paul) 😉
And for long-term stays (meaning over a week) we need a nice view or proximity to nature
How do we look for hotels?
Mostly we use Booking.com in bigger towns. Once you get to smaller towns in Brazil, especially in the north, they don’t advertise on Booking. You can find them on Google Maps but the downside is that you can’t use a very detailed filter. That means the Booking-filter is more detailed, even if not perfect…
Whenever we found a place that had really good value, we would also end up staying longer (like a week or even a month!). So for us the vibes of a place are really important. With long-term stays we like to have a nice view into nature and enough space.
All the research paid off!
Consequently we ended up finding wonderful places that are worth a lot more in value and that we could have ever afforded in the United States or when traveling in Europe. The value of these places was amazing, they checked all our boxes, and some with a budget of as low as 25$ per night.
I can’t even describe to you how those places made us feel. They were a great mix of beach bungalow, mountain hut and luxury hotel…at a great price!
If you want to see the footage we shot at these beautiful hotels, watch this video:
How to get better deals!
Now it’s time to share my budget travel tips with you! After traveling for over a year we’ve figured out the way that works best for us to find fitting places. While driving all day, whenever we got to an area with internet reception, I grabbed my phone and looked for hotels. As stated above, we use Booking in bigger towns and Google Maps in smaller towns.
However, we would not book online! What we ended up doing was showing up at the hotel and asking them for their daily rate. Most times their price would be 3 or 5 $ cheaper per night than they advertise online.
When for some reason sometimes they would ask for more (that could easily happen because on Booking you get great deals with the “Genius” levels), you can always ask them to give it to you for the same price and you will book with them instead of online. Hotels usually prefer that because online they would have to pay fees.
Why do we not book online first?
Besides getting a cheaper deal, it is really important for us to look at a room before we book it. We need a big bed, the wifi needs to be stable and we need to make sure they offer secure parking. We have lots of video footage to save and upload into the cloud every night, so Wifi is really important.
Another tip I want to give you is paying cash. Especially in countries in South America, places appreciate receiving cash. So instead of paying online, you ask them if you would get a discount for paying cash. And this would usually result in a 10% discount.
Whenever possible we would try to get cash out of the ATM (of course there’s fees connected as well!) but if it was worth it with regard to the discount at a hotel, we would go for it.
What hotels don’t like…
I get it! If it’s a small family-run pousada, people are usually not thrilled to get unexpected guests who only want to pay for one night. When you show up unannounced, the room might not be ready and generally short-term guests mean more work.
However, we also need to know that a place is a good fit for us. So when we like a place, we usually just book one night to make sure the wifi is stable and everything is okay with the place. Often times when we go to breakfast the next morning, we had decided what we would do that day. Either go back on the road or stay another night. Sometimes our stays resulted in an amazing three- or four-week-vacation, and it all started with initially just booking one night!
Remember, when you arrive late at night at the reception and ask for one night, there are usually no other guests expected that day and you might score a good deal if you ask for one!
Use the Booking review filter 9+
My last tip for today: There’s an additional filter on Booking that you have to start using! The 9+ rating shows you hotels that people found best in value! And we can absolutely confirm! 9+ ratings are a great filter on Booking and will help you find the most beautiful places!
How will we continue?
Right now we’ve arrived back in Paraguay where we got our permanent residency about a year ago. Since we already stayed in Brazil for 180 days this last year, we need to wait for another 180 days in order to be allowed back in. But we will be back as soon as we can and explore more of this beautiful country!
So far we have not found a place in South America that we could see ourselves in for longer. If we ever find a place for more than a month, I’ll let you know. In the meantime we‘ll keep exploring South America and looking for the best place for digital nomads to work and explore.
If you work online and have traveled South America, let me know which places you‘ve come to enjoy the most!
If you’re interested in how to get a residency in Paraguay or have any questions about South America, contact me on my social media below! ⬇️
See you soon!
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