Ideas about how to save up on travel by finding free or cheap accommodation have been circulating on the web since long time. Yet, most of these ideas lack originality and they are geared towards solo travelers only, with no options for those travelling in a group, couples or families. Accommodation is the one of the two highest costs of traveling with the first being flight tickets, I will share with you some of my favorite resources for cutting down cost and getting cheap accommodation, and if you also want to know how to get cheap tickets, go and read my blog post on tips and tricks of how to find cheap flights. I always find a way to travel, frequently, even with a normal job I managed to visit 65 countries in about 3 years; depending on the destination and whether or not I’m flying solo, I might choose one accommodation option over the other, but the trick is to know all of them, then make the decision only when you have to.
There is no “best way” here. Your choice of accommodation depends on your needs and what saves you more. I will be giving you all the options and it is up to you to choose which one will help you get cheap accommodation while traveling.
Obviously! Airbnb might be the most popular option for cheap accommodation and saving up on travel, and unlike the following two options it caters for other types of travelers not just those traveling alone. Families and couples have the option to rent an entire house from Airbnb, and even solo travelers can get a private room in a home. Another very good way to save even more on Airbnb is to offer your property or part of it on the platform. What you make renting out a room or an entire house can go towards your own travel expenses, that could save you a lot of money.
Want even cheaper option? What about completely free? We seem to be sharing everything these days, from cars on Uber to places to stay on Airbnb, so why not share a couch or a room in someone’s house. Couchsurfing is a platform that let people gift you a place to sleep, host you on their couch at their own home, for free! So what does the host get in return? They get to meet you! Couchsurfing revolve around the idea of gifting a space and building a community, the idea is for you to meet locals, spend some time with your host, and give them a little taste of your own culture, you will surely have the best conversations in your life and will give a whole new prospective of the country you are visiting, many hosts also offer to be your guide and take you to places you wouldn’t even know about if you were on your own.
If you will consider Couchsurfing, make sure you look carefully at the host’s profile, and what other couchsurfers have to say about them. Couchsurfing might be monetary free but the cost of it will be some of your time, you will have to plan to stay with your host and get to know them. If you have a little bit of spare money you it’s always a good idea to get your host a gift from home or even share a meal with them. There are no rules set in stone, but if you join a community, you might as well make the best out of it. You can also become a host and that way you give a little back to the community.
There are multiple resources and online platforms that you can use to do freelance work and get paid for it, and that is a good option to make money in general and get hired in different locations which eliminates your need to pay for traveling. Workaway, however; lets you dedicate your time and effort to make a difference through volunteering for a few hours, in exchange for accommodation and food. The difference is that you can use your existing skills, or you can even learn to do something new just to help the place you’re visiting and get the benefit of learning along the way. Volunteer on Workaway doesn’t have to be with an organization, it could be with a local host. For example, someone can host you and in exchange you spend a couple of hours per day teaching him or her a new language. On the website are many tasks that include working with NGO’s, families, schools, and work on farms or even help animals. It isn’t just a place to stay for free, it will add so much flavor to your trip and give you an experience you cannot get if you travel as a typical tourist, yet you can still enjoy being one!
Hostels and Guesthouses:
Hostels are a great cheap accommodation option especially for travelling in Europe, where hostels have recently been upping their game to compete with Airbnb prices. Renting a space in a hostel means you get a space to sleep in a room with multiple other travelers. Rooms in hostels are normally equipped with bunk beds and a shared shower and toilet in each room. This is a great option for groups of people travelling together and want to get cheap accommodation, if you’re a group of friends for example you can share one room, hostel rooms will host anywhere between 6 to 8 people. Nevertheless, even if you’re traveling alone, a hostel is a great way of meeting other people from different parts of the world; you’ll get to meet people that share a lot with you. A Guesthouse is a great option if you would like to have some privacy, but still want to communicate with the locals without having to sleep on the couch or share a room with others.
The idea behind doing a house swap is simple, you want to be somewhere and someone in that destination wants to be where you live, so you exchange homes and you both save. The idea has been around for a long time, friends and families have been doing it before the internet was even a thing, but today multiple websites offer this service, on top of them are homeexchange.com, lovehomeswap.com. Doing a house swap means that you get to live like a local with every meaning of the word. It’s perfect for families, since you’ll save a lot more than “the price per person per night” of hotels and at the same time have so many facilities at your disposal. For example, you’ll have a kitchen and save on dining out.
Housesitting & pet sitting:
Yes, housesitting is a thing, there is also pet sitting. Let’s say you want the experience of the house swap but can’t do it because your house is not yours, if you live with family, but travel alone, or live with -roommates, you won’t be able to do a house swap… enter house-sitting. The idea is simple; you look after a house, or a pet, while their owner is gone and stay at their home in exchange and trust me sometimes you get to stay in a very luxurious homes in the best places. House and Pet-sitting can be done through multiple websites, but most of them require a membership fee, so we can’t say its 100% free but it is still a lot less than renting accommodation at your destination. Take into consideration that you will get the entire house and facilities at your disposal, some hosts will even give you access to their car so you might be lucky enough to save on transportation as well. Some of these websites are location specific but others have offers in various different locations such as TrustedHousesitters.com and MindMyHouse.com.