Cheap Accommodation

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How To Find Cheap Travel Accommodation

Travel Tips

Cheap travel accommodation is available around the world — you don’t need to pay for expensive hotels. Check out these affordable (and free) sleep options to save money on your trip.

One of the biggest travel myths out there is that you need to be independently wealthy to see the world. This is simply not true.

Travel can be very affordable, especially when you use alternative (cheaper) forms of overnight accommodation.

Travel is only expensive if you choose to make it that way.

Fancy hotels have massive budgets to spend on advertising & marketing, so we assume those are the only options out there. But in reality, there are many cheap, and even free places to sleep when traveling.


Backpacker Hostels

COST: $5 – $20 Per Night

Backpacker hostels are a popular option for the budget-minded traveler. Rooms & bathrooms are shared by multiple people which helps keep costs low. The average hostel room can hold 4-10 individuals, often furnished with bunk-beds. Personal lockers are available for securing your belongings. A very basic (toast and cereal) breakfast is usually included too.

In addition to being cheap, hostels provide a highly social atmosphere for fellow travelers to interact with each other. A communal kitchen and living area helps facilitate this. Many backpacker hostels have a few private rooms for those who want a little more privacy along with the vibrant social scene.

Backpacker Hostel Tips

  • Avoid hostels that don’t provide lockers for your valuables
  • Earplugs & an eye-mask will help with late night noise & light
  • Booking.com and Agoda are good sites to find a hostel

Guest Houses & Hotels

COST: $10 – $50 Per Night

A guesthouse or budget hotel provides a simple, affordable room without the perks or service of a bigger luxury hotel. Compared to a hostel, you receive a decent sized private room but much less social interaction. All for a slightly higher price. Kitchens may or may not be included. Breakfast may or may not be included.

Just like hostels, the quality these places can vary widely. In some locations hostels are just not available. But there will be plenty of cheap guesthouses around.

Guest House Tips

  • Always ask to see the room first
  • Make sure windows & doors are secure
  • Booking.com and Agoda are good site to search for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Short-Term Apartment

COST: $10 – $50 Per Night

If someone has a spare room in their house, or a whole apartment they are not using, they may rent it to travelers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These apartments usually come fully furnished and include a kitchen — all for the price of a budget hotel.

One of the big benefits of staying in an apartment is how it can feel like a home away from home. Regular interaction with local neighbors helps you appreciate what it’s actually like to live in the country, if only for a short time.

Apartment Tips

  • Choose places with a history of reviews from past tenants
  • Research the apartment’s location & transportation options
  • Luxstay and AirBnB are wonderful sites for locating short-term apartment rentals
  • If you plan to stay a month or longer, local classifieds provide the best deals

Local Homestay

COST: $10 – $50 Per Night

If you’re interested in learning more about someone’s culture when traveling to a new country, homestays can help you do just that. This is when a family rents out a spare bedroom for extra income and a chance to teach you about their lifestyle. A homestay usually includes breakfast and maybe dinner too.

Homestay arrangements are typical with many language schools, but these days any traveler can book one. You don’t need to know the language to reap the benefits of a homestay either. It might be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding.

Homestay Tips

  • If your host doesn’t speak your language, use sign language and draw pictures to communicate. It works surprisingly well.
  • Check if your homestay includes meals, and how many
  • Be open-minded and willing to learn from your local hosts
  • Search Google for “homestay” plus the country’s name to pull up different homestay websites

Volunteer / Work Exchange

COST: $0 – $30 Per Night

Rather than pay for your accommodation, why not work for it? There are countless opportunities to volunteer your time, labor, or expertise in exchange for room & board all over the world. Some examples include farms, schools, shelters, hostels, lodges, ranches, and even sailboats.

Work exchanges can teach you a new skill, provide insight into a foreign culture, and benefit a good cause while you travel. Not to mention helping you save money at the same time.

Work Exchange Tips

  • Check on how many hours of work are required, and if meals are included
  • Some organizations charge a small fee to cover costs associated with hosting you
  • WWOOF, WorkAway, and HelpX are good sites to search for volunteer opportunities

Camping

COST: $0 – $10 Per Night

If you really want to get close to nature while you’re traveling, you can’t beat camping in the wilderness. Most of the time it’s free, but if you camp in popular tourist locations you may have to pay a bit.

With a tent or camping hammock, you can go absolutely anywhere and will always have a place to sleep, allowing you to experience remote areas that other travelers might avoid due to lack of accommodation.

Camping Tips

  • Try to avoid camping on posted private property
  • Make sure you have a water source nearby
  • Keep food away from your shelter, preferably up in a tree
  • Respect the environment and leave no trace

Couchsurfing

COST: $0 Per Night

If you’re not aware of CouchSurfing.org, you should be. It’s a very large (5 million strong) community of people from all over the world who open up their homes & apartments to travelers for free. They may have a whole spare bedroom or just a couch for you to crash on.

Why do they do it? To meet interesting people. To share their culture. To find adventure partners. After a hosting experience, both the host & traveler can leave a reference about one another. This vouching & verification system works well to prevent misuse of the site.

CouchSurfing Tips

  • Provide tons of information on your profile to gain trust
  • Send out personalized CouchSurfing requests, not generic ones
  • Make time to chat or do something fun with your hosts
  • Join local CouchSurfing meetups to get your first references
  • HospitalityClub & WarmShowers have similar communities

Overnight Transportation

COST: Ticket Price

A wonderful way to save some money on accommodation costs is to travel at night. Sleeping on trains, planes, buses, and boats take practice to master.

But when you get good at it, you’ll be able to wake up refreshed and ready to explore your new surroundings. Well, maybe after a shower…

Overnight Transportation Tips

  • Choose a seat/location with a lot of legroom
  • Bring earplugs, an eye-mask, water, and something warm
  • Secure your valuables to yourself
  • Befriend your neighbor so they’ll wake you before your stop

Public Places

COST: $0

Booked an early flight, bus, or train ride and don’t want to pay for a hotel room you’ll barely use? Just sleep in the terminal/station. If you have luggage and look relatively clean, you probably won’t be bothered by security.

Transportation terminals have bathrooms, food, and are usually open all night. If you’re lucky, you might even get free WiFi. In fact there is a whole website dedicated to sleeping in airports.

Sleeping In Public Tips

  • Find an area away from heavy foot traffic
  • Bring earplugs, an eye-mask, water, and something warm
  • Secure your valuables to yourself
  • Stake out a good spot early, before others start looking

No Excuses

Actually, cheap travel accommodation is possible. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive hotels to see the world.

A week’s stay in a hotel might cost $700, a week’s stay in a hostel might cost $140, and a week’s stay with Couchsurfing hosts will cost you $0. Big difference, right?

Travel is only expensive if you make it that way.

If you’re open-minded, there are plenty of cheap accommodation options to take advantage of while traveling.

And don’t forget the awesome list of Travel Resources to save you a fortune.