You’ve got your bags packed and your plane ticket bought. Now it’s time to make sure you have somewhere to stay on the other side of the route! Though hotels have become the standard, even the budget ones can be pretty pricey. Good thing there are tons of other options – it’s just a matter of choosing which one fits with your travel style and budget. I myself have put my head to rest in some pretty unique places (the 32-bed hostel room was quite the shared experience), but my favorite lodgings so far have been the places that have character and are affordable to boot. With a little research and a little bit of mapping out, I’ve been able to successfully hit on these criteria for some awesome travels.
Even those exploring the open road need a place to put up their feet for the night. Here are some of your best options for saving on lodging as you travel about:
1. Home sweet kitchen
One of the best ways to save money on lodging comes in a roundabout way by saving money on food. Say huh? It’s true! Think about how you save money at home – likely by cooking at home. When you can translate that option to your travel lodging, you’re way ahead of the budgeting game.
Unfortunately, when you’re at the mercy of a hotel equipped with nothing more than a mini-fridge, that’s not always easy to do. But prioritize finding a place with a kitchen and you can cook up your own grub and save a ton on food expenses in the process.
Airbnb is one of the best ways to find just the digs (kitchen included) for your travel needs. The set-up is also such that you get a clear preview into the amenities and the area of your stay.
2. Home swap
Though not as common, home swaps are a great way to snag lodging while offering up your own home in exchange. Essentially, it’s like paying your rent for another location. Even though you won’t be paying for the lodging at your destination, you’ll continue to pay rent/a mortgage back home. But that means you won’t be paying costs for lodging in addition to the rent for an empty place while you’re gone!
If you choose to go the house swap route, you can check out Craigslist to see if anyone has posted a swap in a location you’d be interested in visiting. Since it is a service that connects to strangers, proceed with caution and make sure you feel entirely (entirely) comfortable with the the agreement you reach.
3. Work for your lodging
Harken back to the good old exchange of hard work for your stay. There are a few programs that allow you to exchange a little sweat in return for a bed (and usually food!) but one of the best known is WWOOF.
WWOOF-ing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a popular way for those who want to interact with sustainable agriculture and learn more about farm systems in various locations. It’s an awesome opportunity to interact with a host while experiencing the benefit of a place to stay.
Couchsurfing has become ubiquitous with the vagabond traveler. And while it may have started around the basis of bumming off a night’s sleep on an open couch, it’s become much more as the network of hosts and surfers has expanded.
Be sure to follow safety tips as well as keep your head about you. While hosts are verified, it’s still a potential risk to enter into a stranger’s home. This is one instance where it’s best to have a strong sense of what to expect rather than just winging it entirely. Do your research and read the reviews. If you feel in any way unsure – better to be overly cautious.
5. Network with fellow travelers
Many travel junkies are kindred spirits so offering up a place to stay (even if you just met) doesn’t seem so odd. I have plenty of connections that I met briefly at hostels or on bus rides who I’d happily host if they found themselves in the area. On the same token, I’d probably shoot them an email if I was heading their way. It’s not a requirement, of course, but you might have all the lodging resources you need once you’ve built up a network along your adventure.
With all the options out there, it really does payoff to research and experiment with the various ways to lodge on your next vacation. From working for the bed to trading your own space – you’ll a metaphorical cot to rest your head on that fits in with your travel style (and your budget).
Image Credit: Marcus Spiering