Ever since we started traveling the world in 1997, we have personally used the following budget accommodation options….
- Hostels and Guesthouses
- Cheap hotel rooms
- A friend’s house
- A stranger’s house
- Overnight bus and train trips
There are times when we need a certain level of comfort and facilities, particularly now that we travel as a family and with a laptop and need WiFi access, and there are times when we have just stayed about anywhere to save a dollar.
Not all travelers are alike. We all have different needs, tastes, and budgets, and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.
But what we do know is that no one wants to pay more for accommodation than is necessary, and considering accommodation is one of your major costs, if you can cut down on your lodging expenses, over time you can save a lot of money.
Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family, and you are traveling either short term or long term, here are your budget accommodation options:
Find a Cheap Hotel Room
If you desire a little comfort, and your budget allows it, then an obvious choice is a mid-level hotel.
There are several booking sites that we personally use to search for a deal, but once you have found the best deal, always go and check the price through that particular hotels website. Sometimes hotels will only provide their best price directly through their own website.
Sites that we use:
Hotwire – Great for last minute deals. e.g. We got a 4 star hotel in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans for 50 bucks.
Agoda – Great for deals in Asia. You can book through their freeApp and they also have eNewsletter deals and a price match guarantee.
Hostels and Guesthouses
The best option for budget accommodation around the world is usually a hostel. But they are not for everyone, and we have written a post about our tips for staying in hostels.
We have consistently used hostels because they are affordable, usually well located, and we like the social aspects of meeting other travelers. We now only stay in a private room, and the hostel must have kitchen facilities.
Sites for booking a hostel include:
- Hostelzoo – a free hostel price comparison tool utilising the booking engines Hostelworld, HostelBookers, HostelsClub and Gomio.
- Hostelworld – over 25,000 Hostels in more than 180 Countries.
Apartments can often work out cheaper than a hotel room, particularly when you factor in you can cook most (or all) meals yourself. It may come down to you having to stay for a week to get a good deal, but some still offer great rates for shorter stays.
And if you can share an apartment with others, it lowers the cost per head even more. In Australia a great booking site we use is Stayz who also have select international inventory.
Tripping calls itself the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals, and compares the top rental sites at once like HomeAway, Flipkey, Wimdu, Roomorama, Housetrip.
AirBnB is a way to get low-cost vacation rentals and sublets from locals in 180 countries. They connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.
Rent nightly from real people in over 8,000 cities.
VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner
Established in 1995, Vacation Rentals By Owner was founded by owners who self-manage their second homes.
They provide an online space for homeowners to advertise their vacation properties and make it easy for travelers to search 130,000+ rentals in over 100 countries worldwide.
Vacation rentals can sometimes offer more value, space and privacy to hotels. Plus, your pets are welcome at over 25,000 properties across the US.
House Sitting is a perfect option for anyone considering long-term travel, but can also work for those interested in a week or two awai.
You live rent free in exchange for looking after someone’s home and if they have them, pets safe. But importantly, housesitting allows you to have a more authentic travel experience in ways that more traditional accommodation such as hotels and hostels just can’t provide. To learn more click here.
The home exchange strategy is possibly best for families or retired people who are looking to base themselves in another country or state for an agreed period of time.
And just like the name suggests, you stay in their house whilst they stay in yours. This is obviously not for everyone, but it’s another option.
Facebook and Twitter
Go and “LIKE” your favorite travel search sites and hotels on facebook and follow them on twitter.
It’s getting more and more common for sites and companies to release hot deals directly through their social media channels.
Sleeping While Traveling
When taking a bus, train, or flight, try and plan it so you are traveling at night. That way, you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation. You have to get from one location to another, so why not do it at night time.
We have taken many overnight bus and train journey’s, as well as the red-eye flights, and it greatly helps to cut down on your accommodation costs.
- Stay more than 1 night – many hotels and hostels provide their best deals when you stay more than one night.
- Stay Sunday to Thursday – try and travel when people do not. Try off-peak travel times and seasons to get great bargains.
- Call the Hotel Directly – A last minute phone call directly to a hotel or hostel and asking about cheap rooms can prove fruitful. They don’t like having empty rooms so will discount.
- Negotiate – Most front desk personnel are personable and can give good advice on getting better rates.
What suggestions and resources do you have for finding budget accommodation?