The past few years have seen a rise in the quantity (and quality) of alternatives to traditional hotels, making the ability to find cheap accommodation more accessible to everyone. Reducing the cost of nightly accommodation enables you to travel longer, and frees up more money for excursions and activities.
This is a popular and ever-growing trend in the travel world. Travelers can book an entire property such as an apartment, a condo or a villa for a few days that overlap with their travel dates. It offers unique and affordable lodging options around the globe. Since these options tend to be more spacious than hotel rooms, they are a good bargain for bigger groups or families. An attached kitchen also helps you save big bucks on restaurants.
Popular Sites: Airbnb, HomeAway, Red Week, Rent My Owner
Airbnb has been a game changer for travel Whether you want your own apartment, a private room, or a hammock to snooze in, Airbnb offers a huge range of affordable options. If you’re two or more people, it’s often cheaper than a hostel dorm – a welcome reprieve when you just need some space.
If you’re not picky about which hotel you stay at, there are several booking sites that offer “mystery hotels” wherein you don’t know which hotel or room you’re getting until your payment goes through for a confirmed booking. These prices are fairly cheaper than regular prices simply for the reason that you usually fill unsold rooms of hotels. Hotels are better off giving them to you at a discounted price than keeping them vacant.
Popular Sites: Agoda (Secret Deals), Priceline (Express Deals, Name Your Own Price), LastMinute.com (Top Secret Hotels)
Home Exchange/ House Swap / House Sitting
A home exchange or a house swap makes a very cheap way to get accommodation when you travel. The basic premise is that you switch homes with someone else who has a home in the area in which you’ll be traveling.
HomeExchange.com bills itself as the #1 home exchange website in the world with over 65,000 homes listed in over 150 countries. If you don’t have a house or don’t want to offer your house to others, you can still stay in someone else’s house by opting for something similar – House Sitting, in which you will have some basic responsibilities. Still, it’s a pretty easy trade to keep a house clean and functional, in exchange for a free bed.
Popular Sites: House Exchange: HomeExchange.com, LoveHomeSwap, Love Home Swap
House Sitting: TrustedHouseSitters, Nomador, HouseCarers
Hostels / Dorms
Hostels are a great way to save money on accommodation. Though they’re commonly known as “youth” hostels, these can be an excellent hotel alternative for budget travelers of any age. Even if you’re not up for the cheapest option – a bed in a shared dorm – you can often get a basic private room at a hostel for significantly less than the cost of a low-end hotel.
Popular Sites: HostelWorld, Hostelling International
Home Stays / Couchsurfing
With a homestay, you can rent a room in a local’s house and get an authentic travel experience, for a fraction of the price. A homestay can offer an immersive opportunity to see a new place. Keep in mind with this option it is common courtesy to interact with and get to know your host. If you can, it’s also a kind gesture to bring a small gift or souvenir from your home country. Couchsurfing, though a popular player in this category, has now become synonymous with home stays.
Popular Sites: Couchsurfing, Homestay, 9flats, BeLodged