I hear from a lot of people that one of the reasons they don't travel so often, is because hotels are quite expensive in a lot of places. New York, Dubai, even Stockholm... Prices for a basic hotel room can get quite high, especially if you're travelling in a high season period or holidays, like most of the people do.
So, I decided to make a list of cheaper accommodation alternatives than a standard hotel. Actually, I even prefer the alternatives above a hotel room, especially if I'm travelling alone, since it can make your trips so much richer and more authentic.
So, here we go!
1. Even though nowadays I do not longer use it, Couchsurfing has been my favourite travel community. In March 2015 it had 6 million members in 97.000 unique towns and villages in 250 different countries and territories. That's enough couches all over the world to find a host almost everywhere you can imagine going!
I know a lot of people are quite skeptic about CS because it requires a high level of trust, no matter if you want to surf or if you want to host people. First of all, I want to mention that there is only one known case of abuse in the entire existence of CS, which is more than 10 years.
Second, I suggest you read my tips on how to choose a good host or surfer, which is also very important to make your CS experience a positive one.
Third, if you want to get a taste of what CS is like, you can always participate in a free CS gathering in your own town, which are organised by members.
My personal experiences with CS have been wonderful: I became very good friends with people that I hosted in Antwerp from Barcelona that helped me find an apartment here when I came to study here, have spent nice times surfing with my best friend... and even the most special person in my life at this moment is someone who I met through a simple Couchsurfing message :)
The only reason why I do not longer use it is because I have became more keen on privacy and like to spend more time alone or with the person I travel, independent from other people - but I can highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in meeting new people.
This is what a profile on Couchsurfing looks like!
Me and my best friend Elena on a trip to Barcelona, with our host - and now good friend - Donnie and other CS friends
2. If Couchsurfing is too social for you, and you want more privacy and freedom, Airbnb might be just the right choice! Airbnb is also a big community, with over 500.000 listings in 33.000 cities of 192 countries.
The advantage you have is that the prices are usually way lower than the prices of hotels in the area. You can decide yourself how much privacy you want: you can choose between an entire home or apartment, but also a private room inside a home. Another advantage is that you're staying with locals, which means that you'll still be able to have some recommendations or advices about what to do, where to eat, and get a local insight on the city. This is the perfect privacy-price mix in my opinion! I stayed in rooms in New York, London, Barcelona and Bali, and can confirm that all of the experiences were nice or even amazing! I got some tips on where to go, and at the same time saved a lot on the price. For example, in New York, the price we paid per night at a basic hotel was 60 Euro. The price we paid for a private room was 25 Euro. Quite a difference, huh?
If you don't have an Airbnb account yet, and are planning on inscribing yourself, you would help me if you would do it viathis referral link. This way, when you will take your first trip or rent out your space, I will get extra credit to do even more travelling and bring you guys even more travel tips and stories about faraway places :) This works the same for you, once you are a member, you can keep on inviting other people to join, get referral credit and make this community become bigger and better!
3. Connections are great, especially for travelling. The more you travel, the more people you get to know from all over the world. Also, consider family, colleagues, friends, ...
First of all, you could always ask them for tips where to stay or where to rent a room for a good price. Also, most of the connections that you acquire while travelling, are openminded people that will probably even invite you to stay at their place! Of course, you should be prepared to do the same for them... This might seem a bit of an odd travel tip, but actually this is one of the most trusted ways of accommodation!
I had a nice experience staying with the cousin of the boyfriend of a friend of mine (are you still following? :) ) in Lisboa, and it felt like staying with family...
Me and Virginie, one of the friends that I got to know in Caen thanks to Couchsurfing!
4. Camping is not always an option, but if you're adventurous and the climate is sweet, why not try it? One of the most magical nights in my life was spent camping on a small beach in Menorca, where we put up our tent and had the full moon as our nightlamp.
Of course, this is not always a legal option, and often you have to get up with the sun to make your tent disappear, and make sure to not get a fine. Though, it's a very cheap option, especially if you have a water source nearby that you can use to shower and/or drinking water. My childhood memories go back to lake Seliger, between Moscow and St. Petersburg, where I used to go with my parents and a bunch of friends, and where we would camp for a week or two... Most amazing memories, that I did all over again the summer of 2010, and I would go back right away if I could!
Our tent at Lake Seliger, Russia
5. Hostels are like hotels, but just with shared rooms. Most people associate them with the horror movie, but actually they're a lot more boring in real life! Also, hostels often offer single rooms as well, not only shared beds. Actually, a hostel is like a hotel, but just with no stars and a way lower quality - and very often you'll have to share a bathroom. It might not sound so attractive, but it is a way cheaper alternative if you're travelling alone in a big, expensive city and don't want to make use of CS or Airbnb. On the other hand, you do get to meet a lot of other, mostly solo travelers, so it's not all bad. I stayed in hostels in Saint-Petersburg and Malta, and though I wouldn't choose to share a bedroom for a long time, it was acceptable all by all. The keyword for choosing the right hostel is INFORMATION. Look for pictures, reviews, personal experiences, ...
If you guys have other suggestions or experiences with cheap accommodations, please share! :)