Booking cheap? Expect less than awesome!
One of the most annoying aspects of budget traveling is when you encounter someone who complains endlessly about the lack of facilities or the quality of their bedding when they chose to sort their booking options on the website according to price and then chose the cheapest one that had a decent review score.
The same thing is true about anything else in life: you get what you pay for. The really cheap hostels at locations around the world manage to be "cheap and cheerful" as the saying goes but many people who book into these places are either inexperienced budget-travelers or they are the perpetually unhappy traveler whose expectations are wildly out of reality.
When you pay $8 for a room for the night online and then turn up and it looks like this, this is exactly what you should have been expecting. It's actually quite a lot nicer than I would expect for that price. When traveling through SE Asia the norm was for me to spend less than $10 a night for accommodation and at that price you can expect a few things to not be there. You are not going to get air conditioning, you are not going to get high quality linens, you are likely not going to get a view or even a window. There is also a very good chance that you are going to be sharing a bathroom with other people that you don't know.
Honestly, the shared bath image you see above is actually a lot better than you really should be expecting at such low prices. Many of the places I stayed had a series of bathrooms that were merely locations underneath the stairwell that clearly were not originally designed to have a bathroom in it at all and this is part of budget traveling, whether you like it or not.
If a bathroom is horribly dirty, there is a better than average chance that one of the guests made it that way and the staff isn't actually even aware that this is the case. Normally, if you just kindly mention it to them, they will get it sorted out.
If you stay in dorms and are a relatively outgoing person this shared experience has a wonderful opportunity to make you some new friends. You are now roomates and your shared delight or misery about where you are staying could actually make you a lifelong friend. I know that some of the people I met in hostels and dorms that I stayed in as long as 15 years ago are people I still talk to today and I think I will remain friends with them for the rest of my life.
I have encountered people during these stays that would complain about every little thing they could find and basically they just brought down the mood for everyone else involved also. Don't be that person ok? If you are that miserable in a cheap guesthouse perhaps you shouldn't have booked such a cheap guesthouse. If you don't have the money to upgrade to something nicer than I don't think that backpacking is actually for you and you should aim for shorter, more luxurious travels.
The point of all this is that backpacking can be something that sticks with you for the rest of your life. If you are like me, the 6 months or so that you spend backpacking in your 20's will actually shape what the rest of your life looks like. I met my partner while I was backpacking and because of the other people I met on that trip, I actually ended up changing careers and my life is a lot better because of it. I met all of these people while staying in less than awesome accommodation.
But cheap accommodation is going to be exactly that... cheap. And the people that get into these places only to complain the entire time they are there are not helping anyone and you are missing out on some fantastic experiences by focusing on the negative.