These past few months we have been planning our big trip to South America and we are setting off in just a week! Considering and calculating the costs and our budget, we realized accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when traveling. If we are able to reduce that cost, it will definitely help us save big!
Fortunately, we came across a number of ways backpackers can find a good place to stay without paying a fortune. Here are some of the most popular budget friendly sleeping alternatives:
Hostels, Bed & Breakfast and Short term Rentals
There are many comparison sites to look at for nice and affordable hostels, B&B’s or rentals. It all really depends on where you’re traveling and how much you are willing to spend.
Hostels or Guest Houses are the most common option for budget travelers. Many people think that hostels are appropriate only for young people, but the truth is that many of them offer single rooms or rooms for couples as well. We usually use Airbnb to find good deals, Ratings and reviews.
Bed & Breakfast refers to small lodging or private homes that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast. B&B’s provides the opportunity for a relaxing break in a homely environment, and the chance to make new friends and experience new ways of life.
Short Term rentals can be much cheaper than a hotel and they’re a great way to spend a few days or weeks in one place. One of the advantages is that you can cook and save even more on meal expenses. Short-term rentals also offer visitors the chance to get an idea of what it’s really like to live in the city they’re staying in.
This is definitely one of the best ways to meet new people from all over the world and also save money on lodging. There are many hospitality exchange networks and during my previous travels I always used Couchsurfing.org. This site provides a platform for people from around the globe to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home while traveling, host travelers in your home, or participate in social events. A new version of the site was recently launched and it looks awesome and very easy to use.
What I love about couchsurfing is that you can meet many new friends along the way. Through CS you can really get a feel of how people live and also know a lot more about their culture. This is also a great way to find new interesting places that only locals know about and that can’t be found in the tourist guidebooks.
On my solo traveling trips in Europe I used couchsurfing several times and it was always an amazing experience. It’s an exciting feeling when you’re accepted by a couchsurfing host and meeting a potential new friend. I got to meet many new friends from all over the world who offered me their couch with their wonderful hospitality. As a woman traveling alone I had my reservations with couchsurfing, but after a long search on the site I can honestly say couchsurfing can be very safe and there’s nothing to be scared of. People who open their doors are usually open minded and very nice. But I do think anyone looking for a couch should always stay put and check the reviews a member has on his/her profile and see what other couchsurfers wrote about their experiences.
There are three Couchsurfing principles that increase security and trust, which are all visible on member profiles for potential hosts and surfers:
1. Reviews: Everyone can leave a comment/review about their personal experience with the host or surfer person.
2. The site offers an optional credit card verification
3. A personal vouching system for every member.
Home swapping has been around for many years, however it’s still building its popularity worldwide. It is a great way to connect people from different cultures and lifestyles and also have an inexpensive vacation with free accommodation anywhere you wish to travel. There are many online home exchange platforms to choose from such as CasaVersa and homeexchange.
Camping is a great frugal sleeping alternative and fun activity. It costs nothing to take a hike and the more you gain experience and learn the tricks, the easier and more enjoyable the experience. It costs a bit more to camp overnight at camp sites, but even that can be done very cheaply. All you need to do is take with you (or rent) a tent, sleeping bag, a tarp, lantern, matches, warm clothes, water, easy-to-prepare foods and you’re set!
You can also choose to spend time on a farm. A farmstay is a unique accommodation alternative where you can work in exchange for free accommodation. Similar to a B&B or vacation rentals, you stay in the home of your hosts, but here you also help and work on the farm and enjoy outdoor activities. It’s also a great way to meet people from all over the world and feel like you’re part of a farming family. Its another great way to save some money for more traveling fun.
If you want to experiment with something different you can try religious housing. Find a monastery that offers accommodation for a small fee. The accommodations offered by religious housing are usually very simple and the meals are prepared by nuns or monks. Some religious housing are even free or simply ask for donations.
Academic housing is another budget friendly alternative. Some colleges and universities are renting their dormitory facilities to tourists during the student vacation time.