If traveling conjures up visions of chain hotels or all-inclusive resorts with high prices and cookie-cutter rooms, you may need to broaden your horizons. There are plenty of cheaper ways to stay when you’re far from home, and ones that may also be a little closer to your adventuring heart. Here are some great alternatives to think about next time you’re planning a road trip, journey overseas, or simply a long weekend away.
Never mind the name, these are usually open to anyone who’s up for sharing a room, meeting fellow travelers from around the world, and happy to make their own meals. Not all hostels are created equal, so you’ll want to do a little research before you go. Some provide private rooms at a fraction of hotel prices while others are geared for partying. Hostelling international is a good place to start, and you can also check out our own tips for choosing a good hostel.
Airbnb is just one of the many sites where you can find private accommodations for a night, a week or even longer - in destinations all over the world. You might be staying in a room at someone’s house, get a cottage to yourself, or have the run of a vacant home. Prices and options vary wildly, and you’ll have to be prepared to adjust if what you get when you arrive isn’t exactly “as described”. A great alternative if you’re flexible and ready to go with the flow.
This is the dressed down version of Airbnb, where you can find a bed in someone’s home – for free. Start by joining the Couchsurfing community to find hosts all over the world who want to connect with new friends and adventurers. It’s a great way to experience the local community and definitely one of the cheapest ways to see the world. Not so good if you’re looking for privacy or don’t like socialising with strangers.
Many people own cottages, condominiums or beach homes that they don’t use year-round. The rest of the time, they rent them to tourists. A vacation rental isn’t usually very cost effective if you’re traveling alone or as a couple but can be a much cheaper alternative for groups and families. You’ll be able to cook your own meals and often have access to resort facilities like a pool, gym or spa. If you’re travelling off-season, you’ll have a much greater variety of properties to choose from and should find some pretty sweet deals.
Many universities and colleges rent out their on-campus accommodation when the students go home for the summer. If you’re travelling to a college town over the summer months, call ahead to see if they have rooms available. You’ll get pretty basic digs and may have to share a bathroom, but rooms are usually clean, functional and very affordable.
The Weird and Wonderful
If you like your creature comforts, privacy and room service, you can still stay in a hotel that doesn’t look like every other soulless building on the strip. There are thousands of quirky, memorable and absolutely unique establishments all over the planet that are just waiting to be discovered. Our survey of unusual hotels will get you started, and taking the time to look for an independent will definitely pay off when it comes to both your wallet and your sense of adventure.