You can travel all the world without having to pay exorbitant amounts of money to satisfy your wanderlust. And we’re not just saying that, if you want to find out more about how to save some money for accommodation when you’re traveling, read our ideas below.
This is a recent trend that has been facilitated by the social media boom. But the truth is that hospitality among strangers is as old as time itself. And when you’re traveling to the part of the world where that stranger you hosted lives, you can ask for the same treatment.
But now you can actually decide in advance where you’re going to stay by checking with people all around the world. There are specialized websites for that, and all you have to do is join the community and open your house to other people too.
The advantage of couchsurfing is that it costs nothing except repaying others in need of accommodation. Apart from being free, you’ll get the chance of spending your holiday with local people who have all the good information about places to visit, or where to enjoy the local cuisine.
Living with a local makes you understand their way of thinking, and experience their traditions and culture at a whole new level. However, make sure you check the credentials and reviews of a person who’s opening their home to you and leave a review yourself when you come home.
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Another cheap form of accommodation that costs next to nothing is camping, seeing as you have to pay a meager camping tax only in certain areas. There are even free camping spots, which is great if you’re interested in spending more time around the place.
There are plenty of things to do although these camping spots are at a considerable distance from most city centers. You can explore the surroundings and enjoy a few one-day hikes around, or you can simply relax at the camp site. Learn how to make some easy hammock knots, and you can set up your own hammock, and relax with a good book and a cold beer.
At this point, you can rent a car by yourself or with other fellow campers and travel easily towards or through the city. Or, if you have your own van, maybe you’ve found room for a bike so you’ll go sightseeing on two wheels.
The disadvantage about camping, apart from being far away from most sites, is that you also have to pack more stuff, with a tent and sleeping bag being the heaviest and bulkiest. Plus, if you juggle between more destinations, you also have to set up camp quite often, which can be tedious for some. And there are only shared bathrooms.
Among your best option for cheap places to spend the night, you can always rely on a hostel. This might cost a bit more than the previous suggestions, but it’s still a budget solution. And don’t be put out by the reputation that most hotels have, as youth dormitories.
In fact, you can opt for individual rooms for singles or for couples, though these are smaller than hotel rooms. So you won’t find anything glamorous here, but most hostels are clean, comfortable and provide enough amenities.
And if you don’t have money for an individual room, you can sleep in a dormitory. This is an advantage if you’re not going by yourself, but with a bigger group. That way, all of you can share the same room instead of having to share it with strangers.
This solution is on par with couchsurfing, the only difference being that your host won’t be at home when you arrive. They’ll be at your house because that’s what home exchange means. There are plenty of programs for people who want to swap homes but you’ll have to find a trustworthy website first.
Of course, you might have doubts about how safe this whole thing is. The truth is that the Internet has truly created a global village, and with the other person trusting you with their home, you can rest assured the practice is safe.
The best thing about the home exchange is that you’ll have your privacy and a home-like level of comfort. However, unlike couchsurfing, you won’t have the welcoming, friendly host to take you on a city tour or tell you all about the local traditions.
Even if this sounds expensive, it’s actually not. That’s especially if you’re not traveling alone or with just your better half. More people in a group means the shared costs of a rented house or apartment will be divided equally. And you can choose a place that’s near the city center, or wherever else you want, the whole transaction being entirely legal and with less stress than couchsurfing or house exchanges.
Besides, this can be considered as a step up hostels or house exchange. First, you’ll do all the research and get all the commodities and amenities you’re after, and have more privacy than in a hostel. Secondly, you won’t have to open up your house to another family like you would for a house exchange.
And even if you’ll have to pay for it, it’s still cheaper than booking a hotel room. Besides, you’ll have your own kitchen and bathroom, a washing machine and a parking space. Most such apartments are rented for a week, so you can organize your schedule and rent more places if you’re traveling to different locations.
What will you choose?
All the ideas above are great for affordable accommodation when you’re traveling, but the whole concept can mean different things for different people. That’s why our options stretch on the affordable scale from “no money” to “less money than a hotel room”. So once you’ve decided on a plan, let us know how things turned out. We’re curious to hear your input, what you liked and what you didn’t, as well as other advice you might have for your fellow travelers.