One of the biggest expenses that any long-term traveler is going to encounter during their nomadic wanderings is expenses for accommodations. Of course with the rise of services like Airbnb and other couch surfing and hospitality exchange sites, finding cheaper places to stay is getting easier and easier. I have had some fantastic Airbnb experiences myself, so I completely recommend this option for budget travel. However, I know that not everyone feels comfortable with crashing in someone’s living room on the couch and staying with strangers. Or, sometimes you just get the desire for a little bit more comfort. So how do you find good quality accommodation with an affordable price without sleeping on someone’s couch?
Although usually thought of as a kind of dormitory environment – frat-like party people included – this is a misconception of Hostels. True you can opt for dormitory-style rooms if you’re up for it, but often Hostels also offer single rooms or doubles. These are cheaper than a hotel and you don’t have to sleep on the top bunk. Of course, private rooms will cost more than the dorm-style rooms, so if you’re a people person, this could be a good option. You can actually get to meet a lot of really cool people this way.
If staying with other people isn’t really your thing, then a home exchange might be a good fit. This isn’t like other hospitality exchanges and couch surfing because no one else is staying there at the time. Of course, this means that you need to have a home to swap, but other than that it can be a really unique experience. Of course, it can be off-putting to think of strangers in your house while you’re away, but the companies providing these services are really good and vet really well through an extensive security and verification process. Plus, you’re staying in the other person’s house too, which means trust is a two-way street. An added benefit is being able to chat with the home owner should you have any questions. This can be practical if you need to find something or need to know how something works.
For example, if they the most comfortable bed ever that rivals your hotel experiences and want to know what it is so you can buy it for yourself – it was this one by the way – that’s an option; the house exchange partner will be on hand to give you all of the information you seek. Many home exchange programs are also set up with a meet-and-greet member to check up on you and ensure that you got there ok, or to hand over the keys (much more secure than a “the keys are under the mat” approach.
It can be worth your time to check out travel blogs and travel sections of news sites to learn about discount hotel options. The Telegraph has a section for almost all trending locations and is usually very well up to date, which can prove to be incredibly helpful.
When interested in a specific hotel, you should also check the actual hotel website, as many hotels will offer discounts when you book directly through their website instead of through another travel or hotel booking site. In general, booking sites charge individual hotels fees when people book through them instead of at the hotel directly. This fee usually costs the hotel anywhere up to 20%. If you don’t see any discounts on the hotel site, try starting on a booking site and then contacting the hotel directly, mention the price on the booking site and see if they will match it or give you a better offer. Just be sure that when you’re booking that you stick to your plans, as usually promotional rates are non-refundable.