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When I stay in hotels, I go with one of two companies: Hilton or IHG.
Hilton brands include Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, Hiltons, and more. They have consistently high quality without being too hard on the budget. I love the Hampton Inn beds so much that I bought one for my own home.
I also love IHG hotels, which include Holiday Inn (which have gotten much nicer in the last decade or so), Staybridge Suites, and Hotel Indigo.
My favorite places to stay when I'm traveling solo are hostels. I can make new friends easily if I feel like it (or keep to myself if I'm introverting). It's much easier on the budget than hotels.
I am so in love with the Tortuga Outbreaker. It is a carryon-sized backpack that opens like rolling luggage. Anyone who has been through my free Two Weeks to Travel course (if you haven't, you can sign up at the bottom of this page) has heard about my love for this pack. I pack for every trip in the 45L Outbreaker. You should too.