How You Can Save Money on Accommodations

I’m a big proponent of staying in hostels and small guesthouses. I like the communal aspect, the shared dining, and the ability to swap advice and share stories. (Plus hostels can be clean! Just look at the photo of this one I found in Lisbon.)

Girls-dorm-room-Lisb'on-Hostel

However, hostels aren’t the only way to save on accommodations. Here are a few ideas that don’t include a bunk bed:

Get in touch with those long lost relatives

Everyone has at least one long lost relative that lives in some really exotic sounding part of the world like Zanzibar, Palikir, or Addis Ababa. You know, that uncle who took a year long sabbatical from his corporate job and then never returned… Yeah, the one that now goes barefoot everywhere. Phone him up! Or maybe drop him an email, that might be a little less intrusive. Suuure, he’s down to host you andΒ  your buddies for a few weeks? What else is he doing in Palikir anyway if not providing you with a great pullout couch in…Micronesia!

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to call in favours from long lost relatives because the ones I’m close with already live in some pretty great cities like Rio de Janeiro. Beachfront apartment?! Pshaaaw, don’t mind if I do. Sometimes I think I overstay my welcome, but what’s five weeks with family right?! I mean, I’m South American, I’m supposed to overstay my welcome by three months anyway…

WOOFING

This option involves staying and working with locals. WOOFING is an exchange where you work between 4-6 hours a day on a local organic farm, and in return the host family provides you with food and accommodations. Your daily chores could involve sowing seeds, making wine, milking cows, or harvesting black pearls. Think of this as a job and not a way to get a freebie on accommodations – you’re essentially there to work, and it also helps to have an interest in sustainable farming practices.

Camping on a stranger’s lawn

Yes, apparently this is a real thing! “Camp in my Garden” is exactly what it sounds like; you pitch your tent on a kind stranger’s garden and make yourself at home. Services like these are quickly gaining popularity across parts of Europe and the UK, and according to CNNΒ garden camping is the new ‘it thing’. Personally, I think this particular option comes in handy if there is a summer festival or concert taking place in the outskirts of town and accommodations have completely booked up, but aside from that, I prefer the comforts of a real room even if it’s bunk beds wall to wall. But hey, if you’re ever looking for a yard in Hawaii, those are out there!

Crash with friends

…and then return the favour. My parent’s home back in Canada is affectionately referred to as ‘Hotel Bergner’ because of the number of friends that my sisters and I receive from overseas. Friends from Germany, England, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Argentina, and the United States. We seem to befriend a very international crowd, but that also means we’ve had lots of places to crash when we’ve travelled abroad.

House-swap or house-sit

The first time I heard about such a thing was in the movie The Holiday. You know, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap properties; a cozy English cottage for a luxurious LA apartment, Jude Law walks into the picture, and then so does Jack Black, everyone falls in love…

If you’re a property owner (which I am not) swapping houses sounds like potentially interesting experience. And if you’re not a property owner, then house-sitting is another idea. I must admit, I kind of like the sound of making myself at home in a total stranger’s house…

Couchsurf

This word gets tossed around whenever you mention cheap travel. I personally haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet because I’ve often found that I either know people in the cities that I’m passing through, or I’ve been able to find some really good hostels. However, if you’re looking for more than just a free place to crash and would actually like to connect with locals and discover a side of the city you normally wouldn’t have, this seems like the way to go.

And the last resort…

Sleeping at the airport / bus / train terminal. I know this sounds totally cheap, but when you’re at the end of that trip and have nothing but a few dollars left to your name, the idea of paying for a room when you’ll have to run out of there at 4 in the morning doesn’t sound all that appealing. Why not go to the airport or train station the night before to catch that early morning ride?

How do you like to save money of accommodations?

17 Comments

  • John says:

    The house swap is a great idea because you get to experience really what its like to live in the foreign city. Could you not do it with a rental property? I guess you then run the risk of damages.
    John recently posted..Will I Ever Truly be Satisfied?My Profile

  • Great post Audrey!

    I agree with all of your ideas, those are the best ways to save money. Lots of people don’t realize that they can find great deals online (like with booking or hostelworld). We looked on booking and ended up stayed in a 2-level apartment with a massive swimming pool in Greece for $20. Not bad at all.

    Cheers for the post!
    Dariece – Goats On The Road recently posted..Stats From Our 3 Years Of Backpacking Around The WorldMy Profile

  • Colleen Brynn says:

    I’ve slept in airports before… it’s never pleasant, but sometimes totally necessary. Sometimes early morning flights (which are usually the cheap ones) are cheap for a reason… public transit just can’t get you there early enough, and the cab ride to get there would defeat the purpose of having bought the cheap flight in the first place. There’s always that annoying warning system over the loud speakers and those horrible fluorescent lights… but if you can cover your eyes and plug your ears, surviving the horrible sleep is possible! Bonus if the airport isn’t a total jerk and actually supplies a row of chairs uninterrupted by armrests!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Just Another Optometry PunMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      I knowwww!! All airports should have seats without the arm rests – or maybe they do it on purpose because they know our thinking… πŸ˜‰

  • This Battered Suitcase says:

    Excellent post as always, Audrey! I had never heard of the camping on a stranger’s lawn before – how cute! And I’ve slept in the airport more times than I’d care to remember…
    This Battered Suitcase recently posted..Plans for 2013, Plans For LifeMy Profile

  • Jarmo says:

    Oh the things we do to save money while travelling πŸ™‚ And that’s why night buses are the best way to get around, you don’t have to pay for accomodation! πŸ™‚
    Jarmo recently posted..Top 5 Things to Do in EstorilMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      YES!! I often did the overnight buses when I was in Argentina precisely for that reason. It’s like killing two birds with one stone – transport and a night’s accommodations for the price of one. πŸ˜‰

  • Shalu Sharma says:

    I like the idea of staying at terminals, stations and coach stations. We’ve all done that. Nothing wrong with that at all. Better still as you say, search the internet, there are bound to be cheap places one can stay.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Pictures of India GateMy Profile

  • awesome tips! scouring deals on the internet these days has never been better especially with the advent of group buying deals πŸ™‚ i have slept in an airport too – not your hotel airport but in a terminal gate and boy that was the perfect way for me to wake up to a baad grumpy mood haha! πŸ™‚
    Jean | Holy Smithereens recently posted..Etihad Business Class Service : London to Abu DhabiMy Profile

  • Wil says:

    Great tips! As a recent grad planning an extended trip I’m trying to stretch every penny. I’m defiantly going to try couchsurfing as I (hopefully) travel the globe.
    Wil recently posted..Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      Couchsurfing sounds like a great way to start! It can’t get any cheaper than someone’s couch, plus I’m sure you’ll get to meet lots of locals, which will make your time there even more memorable. πŸ™‚

  • May says:

    Great post. πŸ™‚
    I seldom travel far away, but I’ll keep your article for my knowledge.
    Thank you for sharing it.

  • Claudia says:

    Hey, Audrey, great site and beautiful articles! about airports, check this site: http://www.sleepinginairports.net/ My boyfriend and I have been using their tips (and airport couches) a lot! πŸ˜‰
    Take care!

  • Muhammad Elsayed Desokey says:

    hey audrey your website is really wonderful and i am a big fans of people who have a trips around world. i wish one day to be one of them, your trips looks like great and make a new companies with a new people this is awesome. adventures have more to telling about others and them culture. i hope you have a trip to egypt one day and exchange our cultures. i will support you anyway and wish for you the best luck.

  • Yulia says:

    Can you please tell me what websites (if any) you use to book/find hostels?

  • leashia deighton says:

    Hello there,

    I’ve been a ‘traveler’ for about 6 years now and haven’t ever read a travel book or blog. I ask myself why? This information that you have shared with us is information that I already know, but I still enjoy reading it and finding out other peoples views. My eyes are open to a hole new world!!! I have super interesting posts to read for FREE whilst on my long travel journeys!! Yeeeeehar! Who knows I may even start a blog myself!! Thanks Audery.

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