Many backpackers believe that the only way to travel on a budget is to stay at youth hostels. While I am a big fan of such accommodation, there are many occasions when hostels are less than ideal. Never is this more the case than when you are trying to sleep in a room with ten other people, half of which enjoy snoring/screaming.
Although most backpackers assume that the only alternative is an expensive stay in a hotel, there are actually a number of other options which can work out just as cheap as a hostel. In fact three of the options on this list are completely free. I will now outline the top alternatives to hostel living and what you should know about each before making your choice.
Airbnb.com is an incredibly novel idea for budget accommodation that has been growing steadily in popularity over the last year. Airbnb.com allows members to post rooms and apartments available for short term nightly rents together with the price that they are looking for and a calendar of availability. Unlike many short term apartment rental sites, Airbnb.com can accept payment from potential tenants in advance of their arrival and in doing so allows travellers to book rooms and apartments in a similar fashion to how they would book a hotel or hostel. Although the prices on offer do of course vary drastically from place to place, I have on many occasions found a private room in somebody’s apartment for the same price as a hostel bed. And thanks to the facility for travellers to rate their stays, you can easily judge the type of person that you will be renting from in advance of your arrival.
While many backpackers frown upon the idea of camping, provided that the weather is right, camping can frequently be more comfortable than staying in a hostel due to the fact that you have your own private space to sleep in as opposed to sharing a room with ten snoring strangers. And thanks to the advent of the inflatable mattress, sleeping in a tent is certainly not as bad for your back as it used to be. Two things that you should be aware of however is that camping equipment can be expensive to fly with and that the facilities on offer at camp sites can range from the luxurious to the non existent. Should you be able to live with these issues, camping makes an ideal alternative to youth hostels.
Although I had been aware of this website for many years, it is only recently that I have actually used the service and I must admit that I have been incredibly satisfied with my experience. For those who are unaware, the site allows members to post a profile together with a room, bed or couch that other travellers can use free of charge. You may wonder why people would want to offer a couch for free and the answer is simply that they are interested in meeting people from all around the world. The site is home to a very large community of like minded members and due to the presence of a sophisticated rating system, couch surfing is actually perfectly safe provided you take the time to do your research on any potential host before arriving at their door.
If you plan on flying a lot during your trip, quite a bit of money can be saved by occasionally sleeping at your departure or arrival airport. While just how pleasant this experience will be depends largely upon the airport, there are many airports throughout the world where should you be equipped with both a sleeping bag and a pair of earplugs, restful slumber can very easily be achieved. To get the low down on which airports are most suitable for sleeping, check out the imaginatively named website sleepinginairports.net.
Keep in Contact with Fellow Backpackers
While you may start a trip around the world knowing very few people outside of your home country, after you have travelled for a number of months, you are likely to have quite a few international friends. Although many people choose not to keep in contact, by simply adding everyone that you meet on Facebook, you will eventually find it difficult to arrive in a country without knowing somebody there. Provided you are happy for them to stay with you should they head to your country, you can easily enjoy weeks of free accommodation throughout the world. Much like many aspects of modern life, it’s not always what you know but who.
Work For Your Bed
Although this option may not appeal to those looking for a month of non stop partying, you might be surprised to learn just how many resources there are available online that will enable you to work a few hours in return for a bed. Many people are more than happy to accept travellers for periods of time as little as a week and in return for a little house keeping or farming, you will get a roof over your head and possibly even some home made food. While this option is certainly not for everyone, if you are serious about low cost accommodation options, it is certainly worth checking out. In my opinion the best online resource for this form of accommodation is helpx.net
Discount Hotel Rooms
Finally while hotels are generally not very backpacker friendly in terms of their cost, you might be surprised at the deals that can be found during the off season in cities that are prone to receiving many tourists during the on season. Due to the surplus of hotel rooms available, some very good deals can be found. In my experience, the best sites to find hotel rooms at greatly reduced prices is booking.com. You may be surprised to find that for less than ten euros more you can swap your bunk bed for a private room.