The most expensive part of a trip? There’s a good chance it could be your lodging. If you’re planning to stay in a hotel for a few days or longer, it could easily end up being the most expensive portion of your trip.
That’s if you stay in a hotel, of course. Over the past few years, non-traditional lodging options have emerged, showing that travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think.
Here are some of my favorite non-traditional lodging options that will save you money:
A few years ago, Airbnbexploded on the scene, offering people the chance to rent out their homes to travelers – either a bedroom, a couch, or the entire place! Since then, it’s become an enormously popular way to travel.
In my experience, I’ve found that Airbnb tends to be the most affordable way to rent a private room in an expensive city. In Manhattan or central Sydney, for example, a private room found on Airbnb will often cost far less than a hotel in the same neighborhood.
On top of that, many Airbnb properties will provide you with free perks that hotels usually charge for, like Wi-Fi, laundry, and late check-out.
Since individual proprietors drive Airbnb, the site has precautions in place for maintaining a safe stay. It’s a good idea to stay at properties that have received multiple positive reviews from other travelers and be sure to communicate with your host before your stay.
Forget all the stereotypes you’ve heard about hostels – that they’re just masses of dorms where beer-swilling backpackers come to party. These days, while you’ll still find plenty of typical party hotels, you’ll also find fine hostels that could almost double for boutique hotels.
Lately, a new brand of hostels has been appearing throughout the world: luxury hostels, where the emphasis is on creating a memorable experience rather than just providing a room for the night.
These hostels often have private rooms along with smaller, nicer dorms. Most have cozy common areas, interesting décor, and full breakfasts; some even have community dinners, art galleries, even swimming pools!
Some of these hostels might as well be hotels – without the hotel price. You’ll be surprised by how much cheaper a private room in a hostel can be than a private hotel room.
House-sitting and Home Exchange
If you don’t mind taking care of a furry critter or two, or watering the odd house plant, house-sitting could be for you. While house-sitting is often associated with long-term stays, you can often find people searching for a house sitter for a week or two.
House sitters typically receive free lodging in exchange for taking care of the property along with its animals. Most house-sitting gigs involve pets, but some are pet-free.
Home exchange, by contrast, allows you to completely exchange homes with another person: you take each other’s homes, cars, even pets, and take care of them for the duration of your stay.
For housesitting, try TrustedHousesitters.com; for home exchange, try HomeExchange.com.
And the most economical lodging method of all? Couchsurfing, which facilitates free stays all over the world.
Despite the name, Couchsurfing is more than just a couch on which to crash – your accommodation can often be anything from an air mattress on the ground to a pullout sofa bed in a private room to your very own private cottage!
Before you get involved, make sure you know that the Couchsurfing project emphasizes exchange and friendship – so be aware that you’ll be expected to spend time with your host, either exploring your destination or hanging out at home. Couchsurfing emphasizes these connections before free lodging.
To get started, start a free profile on Couchsurfing.org.
What’s your favorite method of non-traditional accommodation?