Travelling, like everyday life, has three basic needs. Food, shelter and transportation, assuming you already have the clothes covered. When deciding what accommodation to go for, there are a few things to consider. These include costs, distance, security and personal preferences. These factors especially matter for solo travellers who have to plan for everything by themselves. Thankfully, there are several accommodation options for you all across the country. Here are the pros and cons of each.
Hotels are the most common of the accommodation options amongst Kenyan travellers. I believe this is because Kenya assimilated the hotel and holiday culture after the colonial era. I remember when I was young, my father would try to take us for a weekend vacation at least every once a year. Staying at a hotel for me was always mind-blowing. I could not understand how one building could hold so many people at once. The various types of food available just made me more excited. Hotel accommodation is especially convenient for business travellers, older individuals and families with young children. Some of the pros and cons include:
- You can choose payment rates, i.e. bed and breakfast, half or full board which makes it cost flexible.
- You can choose the hotel standard to go for according to your budget, from 1-7 star ratings.
- The price includes all services and facilities, which means you do not have to make your food or clean our room.
- Hotels often have various activities available for individuals of all ages, including the swimming pool, board games, sports bar, playgrounds, etc.
- Hotels are often more luxurious and comfortable than other accommodation options.
- Hotels can be expensive compared to other available accommodations.
- You usually have little or no control over the activities of the hotel because it is a public space.
- Hotels often lack the feeling of home.
Camping gained popularity among Kenyan travellers around 2010 and has since become a favourite among accommodation options in Kenya. Naivasha is one of the leading camping destinations in the country. Generally, most Kenyan homes do not teach or participate in the camping culture as the West does. However, that does not mean you should not explore it for yourself. Camping is especially great for nature lovers and short-term travellers. Even if you are not a complete fan of sleeping out in the wild, you should try it at least once in your life. Pros and cons of camping are as follows:
- Camping is much cheaper than hoteling, especially if you have your own camping gear.
- You learn how to be independent while enhancing your survival skills.
- Campers get an opportunity to be in touch with nature.
- It is eco-friendly if you camp responsibly.
- It is feasible almost anywhere, you go.
- It is subject to weather conditions. Rain and strong winds can disrupt camping.
- Irresponsible camping can cause accidents and environmental damage, such as fires and animal endangerment.
- Camping is not as luxurious as indoor accommodations. You will have to worry about food preparation, water availability and even make do with natural bathroom facilities.
Glamping is simply a combination of hotel luxury and outdoor sleeping. The word comes from combining the words glamorous and camping. Unlike standard camping, glamping includes facilities and luxuries such as ensuite bathroom facilities, electricity, and readymade food. Some glamping sites have pools and other outdoor activities such as horse riding and archery. Laikipia is arguably the leading glamping destination in Kenya.
- You get to enjoy the advantages of both camping and hoteling.
- Glamping offers some other amazing experiences such as sleeping under the stars and watching wild animals at very near but safe distances without necessarily going for a game drive.
- Most glamping sites are eco-friendly by making use of rain and recycled water as well as solar power.
- Glamping, unlike camping, is more conducive for both small children and older travellers.
- Glamping is significantly more expensive than camping and sometimes hoteling.
- Most camping sites are far from towns and other facilities so you might end up stranded.
I have stayed in my fair share of hostels as a Kenyan solo female traveller. Hostels are communal accommodation options for the frugal traveller. Some hostels provide bed, breakfast and supper while others just provide shelter and other facilities exclusive of food. Staying in a hostel can be either fun or frustrating, depending on your preferences. If you choose a hostel, consider the following:
- Hostels are very affordable compared to the other options.
- You get to build your networks as you meet and make friends with other travellers.
- Most hostels are conveniently located close to a shopping centre or town.
- Most Kenyan hostels are exclusively male or female which makes them convenient for reserved individuals.
- The communal lifestyle can get overwhelming especially for people who enjoy their privacy and solitude.
- Some Kenyan hostels have stringent rules such as night curfews and mealtime deadlines, which might sometimes be inconvenient.
Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb is now one of the most popular accommodation options in Kenya. People initially became interested because of the chance of earning some money as a host. However, with time, the benefits of choosing an Airbnb when travelling through Kenya became more evident. For starters, there is a vast range of available Airbnbs that fit specific individual needs, such as nearness to the airport or providing a great view of the city. Here are the pros and cons of choosing an Airbnb for your accommodation needs.
- You can get a house or apartment that fits your individual preferences.
- Although it is someone else’s house, Airbnbs provide the feeling of being home. Something that all the above accommodation options lack.
- You get to dictate how your stay (meal and sleeping times included) looks and feels.
- Airbnbs are versatile even in terms of budget. You can always get one that fits your cost plans.
- Airbnbs offer a great deal of privacy unless when shared.
- You require a smartphone to book an Airbnb.
- You might get a lower quality than what is advertised online, for example, dirty beddings or lack of water.
- Some people have reported security issues when renting an Airbnb.
Friends and family
The last and most traditional of the accommodation options while travelling through Kenya is staying with family and friends. I have a friend that sleeps in hotels or hostels only for the experience but never for the lack of options. She is so friendly and connected that wherever she goes within the country, she can never miss a friend or relative to host her. Being accommodated this way is very cost-effective, especially when you are self-funding. Here are its advantages and disadvantages:
- You do not have to worry about paying for accommodation. Of course, you can chip in, but this is much cheaper than fully paying for a hotel room.
- You get to be around people at the end of the day. It offers company and community even if partially.
- You can get help, and better information about the town or city you are visiting as your friends or family have more local knowledge.
- You have to be very considerate of your family and friends and act accordingly. Sometimes this means respecting their curfews if any or dressing a certain way.
- It is easy to ‘overstay’ your welcome.
These are the six main accommodation options available to you when travelling through Kenya. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. The decision to choose one over the other entirely depends on you as an individual and of course, your budget. You could explore all the options, at least once, and use your experience to settle for your ideal choice.