One of the biggest travel expenses on a trip is definitely accommodation. But you you don’t have to be rich to travel. There are many accommodation options, and for some you don’t even need money. Here’s how to find cheap and free accommodation around the world, including ultimate tips and hacks.
The options are many: hotels, hostels, apartments, sleeping in local houses, house sitting, etc. You only need to choose the option that best suits your interests and needs.
The best options to find cheap and free accommodation for your travels:
Couchsurfing is an online platform offering the possibility to stay with local hosts. This is perfect to make friends and know the local culture of your destination.
Couchsurfing is really simple. On the website you can either choose to be a host or a couch surfer. You create a profile where you add your information and connect with people offering their houses. You can also read reviews from previous travelers and to read about the person and their home.
Simply put, in these websites you can either be a host or a couch surfer and it’s absolutely free to connect with anyone in the world that’s open to doing a couch surfing set-up.
None! Couchsurfing is absolutely free. Since 2020 Couchsurfing is no longer free. Members are now required to pay a monthly or annual contribution to use their account.
However that’s the only fee you need to pay. The hosts offer their houses for free, not to make money. You have to keep in mind that Couchsurfing is only for a couple of days, you can’t live in someone’s house for months. So if you’re planning on doing a long trip, this is not the best option.
Volunteering: exchange work for accommodation.
Another great way to travel without spending money on accommodation is by volunteering in exchange for free accommodation and sometimes also for food. The most popular sites to find jobs are: Worldpackers, Workaway, HelpX and WWoofing. Some of the works you can find are: on farms, child care, house painting, etc.
If you register in Worldpackers through my link, you get a USD$10 discount on your membership. You can also just add the code POSTCARDSFROMIVI to get the discount.
It is a great way to save money on accommodation and at the same time to meet local people and live as one of them. You’ll have to do some work but you will also have free time to explore the area.
This is an option to save money in accommodation that I can’t wait to try! Housesitting consists of taking care of houses and pets and in return you can stay in the house for free. You just need to watch after the house, the pets and the plants while the owners are away.
Housesitting is most used in Oceania, Europe and North America. There are different websites but the most popular and reliable are: Trusted Housesitters and HouseSitter. You have to pay an annual membership to use the platforms but it is a very low cost considering all the money you can save on accommodation.
It is the ideal option if you love animals and you’re doing a long trip as you can find sittings of even months.
Airbnb. Short-term rentals
Another great option is renting an apartment, a house or a room via webs like Airbnb. This is perfect if you’re travelling with a group of friends or family as it’s definitely cheaper than booking several rooms in a hotel.
It’s a really flexible option because you can get an apartment for a few days, weeks or months. Having a whole place for yourself is great because you can make your own food and save even more money.
Airbnb has a referral program so if you don’t have an account yet, here’s USD$28 credit as a welcome gift. Once registered you can also invite your friends and earn credit for your next trip.
How to find cheap hotels
Have you ever wanted to stay in a luxurious hotel? We all love the stylish side of traveling and I believe that even luxury can be affordable if you plan smart. It is possible to sleep in hotels that offer a unique experience like a view of the city, a modern style or why not – with a swimming pool overlooking the sea. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have this experiences if you plan ahead and follow my tips. There are many websites to find cheap hotels, here are the ones I personally use:
Booking is the most known booking platform. It’s where you almost always find the cheapest prices for hotels and hostels. Booking.com offer free cancellation on most rooms and their book now, pay later at check-in system allows you to lock in that rate with some flexibility. Just make sure you check the booking conditions per room type.
Another thing I love about Booking is that once you have made 5 reservations (and stayed) within 12 months, you will become Genius. With this category you will get some advantages like a 10% discount on selected hotels, late check out, welcome drinks, and other benefits which vary according to each hotel.
Another platform I usually use to book accommodation is Expedia. The best thing about Expedia is their membership program, Expedia Rewards. This program allows you to earn points which can be redeemed for credit on future hotel bookings or flight & hotel packages.
The program includes three memberships levels: +blue, +silver, and +gold, which unlock as you make more reservations. Each category has different discounts and benefits: Room category upgrades, flexible check-in and check-out times at +VIP Hotels, free services, etc.
Last year I booked 2 nights in Hotel Iberostar Park Avenue through expedia almost completely free using my points. Also for being + gold I got an upgrade to a larger room with a jacuzzi bath and I received a complimentary bottle of wine. Luxury is not always expensive!
Stay in Hostels
An affordable and ideal option if you’re traveling solo. But don’t think hostels as just dorm rooms for backpackers. I’ve stayed in hostels that were more luxurious than some hotels I’d stayed. Besides, most hostels offer private rooms so it can be a cheap alternative to hotels.
The things I love most about hostels, besides saving money on accommodation is the possibility to meet other travelers.
Tips for finding cheap hotels and hostels:
- Avoid weekends: Accommodation prices always increase during weekends, so try to avoid staying on Friday or Saturday, especially in popular cities like Amsterdam or Las Vegas.
- Does the accommodation include breakfast?: A minor detail that can make the difference in expensive cities.
- Stay more than one night: Many places offer discounts when staying more than one night, especially in the off-season.
- Compare Prices: Compare prices in at least two booking sites and also check the price at the official hotel website.
- Stay outside the city center: staying outside of the touristy area of the city will almost always save you money on the cost of hotels and hostels. As long as you have good transport to the city this is a great way of saving money, plus you get to know less touristy areas that you might have not visited staying in the city center.
I hope this article gave you some great ideas on how to find cheap and free accommodation! Do you have any other tricks?
Other useful posts:
- Best Budget Places in Central London
- Best budget hotels near Times Square in New York
- Where to stay in Paris: best areas and hotels
- Useful websites and discounts to plan your trip
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