One of the biggest misconceptions around the world is that it’s fairly expensive to travel. This just isn’t true. When I made the decision to get rid of everything so I can travel and work online, I also thought this would be the case. Come to find out it’s actually pretty easy and convenient to travel cheaply. The biggest expenses you’ll have when traveling are accommodation, food, and transportation. Let’s talk about how to find travel accommodation for any budget.
- 1. Hotels or Resorts
- 2. Short-term Rentals
- 3. Extended Stay or Serviced Apartment
- 4. Hostels
- 5. Couchsurfing
- 6. Homestays
- 7. Workaways
- Final Thoughts
1. Hotels or Resorts
This is the most expensive of all the options available. Hotels and resorts are a great way to stay if you’re looking for luxury travel. Most hotels offer the comfort or convenience that some travelers are seeking depending on the amenities being offered. It is possible to get a decent hotel for a reasonable price. Generally speaking though, if I want a hotel, I want comfort. If I’m looking to save money, I’d probably choose another option. I usually stay in a hotel or resort if I’m in vacation mode or if I’m only staying in a city for a few days.
Sites for Booking Hotels & Resorts:
2. Short-term Rentals
This is one of my favorite options because it’s so easy to book. You also have so many choices in most cities. I’d say the most popular site for this is Airbnb, but there are a few others as well. I usually book a short-term rental when I’m staying for 2 weeks or less. I really love the convenience of this. It’s very simple to filter on most sites to find what you need. For me, I usually book an entire place to myself. I look for a place that has high-speed internet, a gym, and that’s close to local attractions. Make sure you check the reviews, the host’s response time, and the refund policy prior to booking.
Sites for Booking Short-term Rentals:
3. Extended Stay or Serviced Apartment
A serviced apartment is basically a combination of a hotel and a short-term apartment rental. You’ll get all the amenities that a hotel offers but you also get the privacy you would get from booking on a site like Airbnb. This is good for a number of reasons. You get coffee, a gym, wifi, and a fully furnished apartment. There is no housekeeping to wake you up every morning. Although, you can request for your room to be cleaned for a fee. This is typically for travelers staying an extended period of time. I stayed in a really nice condo with a great view in Chiang Mai and absolutely loved it.
This is similar to finding an apartment though. In some instances, you may have to put down a month or two of rent plus a security deposit. When you do, you’ll have to enter a contract. Depending on your length of stay you can negotiate the price. I have recommended some resources below, however, I have found it much easier to walk around and get information from the building directly. You may even save yourself some money by doing it this way.
Sites for Booking Serviced Apartments:
- Apartment Service
- Facebook Groups (do a search)
- Local Classifieds Ads (craigslist or equivalent)
- Hire a Real Estate Agent
When I first started traveling, I stayed almost exclusively in hostels. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First of all, hostels are one of many forms of cheap accommodation. A hostel room can cost anywhere between $10 to $40 USD per night. You can either get a private room, 4-bed dorm, 6-bed dorm, 8-bed dorm, or more. The more beds, the cheaper it is. You can also either get an all male dorm, all female dorm, or a mixed dorm. I typically stay in a private room or a 4-bed mixed or all male dorm (they wouldn’t let me in the female one ?).
Some hostels are also really social and it’s a great way to travel and meet other travelers. This is especially true if you’re a solo traveler and new to traveling. It allows you to get your feet wet and help you come to the realization that it’s not as scary as you think it is. Most hostels also organize group trips and give you detailed information on local attractions. Some have bars, others don’t. All hostels generally have quiet hours in both the common areas and inside the dorm rooms. Most hostels should include free breakfast, but not all do.
Each hostel is different in what they offer. Make sure to check the reviews on the website prior to booking or call if you have questions. A lot of people are hesitant to stay in a hostel for one reason or another. However, they really are a great way to travel solo and meet people. I stayed in one hostel in Chiang Mai that really went above and beyond and it was truly a great experience.
A lot of hostels will allow you to work for your accommodation. See if you can contact them ahead of time and volunteer your time in exchange for free room & board. Some of them will even have enough hours for you to pocket some extra money.
Sites for Booking Hostels:
Couchsurfing sites are a good way to get free lodging and get to know the culture from a local. Sites like Couchsurfing and other sites allow for locals to use their couch, extra bedroom, or any other available space to host someone. It’s great because aside from free lodging, you’re also getting to explore the city with someone who knows all the traditions of the country you’re visiting. If you pick the right host, they will also steer you clear of any tourist traps and show you hot spots that the locals like to visit. These sites are a good way to meet new people, have an adventure, learn a new language, foster a cultural exchange, and see things you may have otherwise missed.
There are a few things you need to know before booking through one of these sites. It requires you to fill out a profile. Make sure your profile information is as detailed as possible and add pictures. In order for you to start hosting or find a couch to surf, ensure that you have been verified. Do this by adding an address and a credit card for verification purposes. This is done for safety reasons. Getting verified isn’t mandatory, but if you don’t do it then make sure to get a lot of references. How do you get references? Attend a Couchsurfing meetup (check the events page) or message and hang out with someone from the site. It’s a common practice to leave each other a reference after. You can also ask friends to leave you a personal reference. A few of them are enough to get you started.
Sites for Couchsurfing & Similar Concepts:
Homestays are the same concept as Couchsurfing except they aren’t free. There is usually a small fee associated with booking your stay. It’s also a good way to find a host or a host family to get to know, show you around and learn the culture. Some of them include a few meals, while others don’t. Make sure you work that out ahead of time so you can budget accordingly.
Sites for Booking Homestays:
Workaways are another option that allows you to work or volunteer for your accommodation and possibly food. Most of them are farming jobs, but it could be anything. Working with plants, babysitting, or just general administrative help. Some of these only require a few hours of work. While others are far more demanding. Either way, if you’re traveling on a budget they are a good option. You can learn some skills, have a new experience and trade your time for accommodation. Make sure you work out the details with your host ahead of time. This includes your meal, length of stay and potential workload.
Sites for Workaways and Similar Programs
No matter what your budget, you can find the right accommodation that suits your needs. Don’t make excuses for yourself as far as why you can’t travel. Finding reasonable accommodation is as simple as doing some research and seeing what works best for you. This is also true of sightseeing, flights & transportation, food, and pretty much everything you can think of. Happy Travels!
Have something to add? I’d love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below!