Updated: Apr 20
Whether you are planning a short trip or have already embarked on an epic journey around the world, being able to plan ahead and to keep your accommodation costs to a minimum will certainly help you to stretch your travel budget.
There are many different ways to approach this challenge, and the most important step of planning is determining how much you actually want to spend, while also considering the standard of accommodation you would like.
Here are my tips on how to find cheap accommodation around the world!
Accommodation is one of the biggest fixed costs travellers have and reducing that cost can lead to big savings on the road!
The search options available mean that you can search for accommodations based on price range, as well as searching for places within a certain distance of particular attractions of the city centre of your final destination.
We now love using HotelsCombined when searching for accommodation. It brings together all the big booking sites such as Expedia, Agoda, and bookings.com to mention just a few, and puts them all in one place. Thus making it so easy to compare prices without missing anything as you do when you are forced to hope from one site to another comparing. Expedia is what we have always used in the past but now we use HotelsCombined… it has a lot!
Location, location, location!
I personally don’t mind Google tracking my location because I find the benefits outweigh the negatives. In any case, if Location History is enabled, you can use Google Maps to view your exact travel paths for any day on a map, which is pretty cool.
Travel Review Websites
Many of the leading travel review websites, will have links on their pages that allow you to find cheap deals on certain hotels or hostels. When we review a hotel, resort or spa, we track down great deals and place a link on the review page. Why pay full price when you can get it at a discount.
You can find hidden gems and learn about other traveller’s experiences at these establishments, and some tips that may come in handy during your stay.
Apartment and Room Rentals
If you intend to stay in a destination for a longer period of a month or more, it may be worth looking into an apartment rental once you have arrived. This can often prove to be a cheaper option if you intend to stay for several days, and also offers many more of the comforts of home that come with having your own space.
It is usually best to book a hostel bed for the first night or two, and then to look for a rental once you have arrived, although sometimes you will find reasonably priced options on websites such as Airbnb too.
Have a quick look at Airbnb – You might be surprised what you find...
If you are planning on staying in the same property as the owner, it is best to use the chat feature to get to know the individual and to read up on the reviews posted by other people who have stayed in that room.
Airbnb allows people to find houses, apartments and private rooms all over the world that are available for short and medium-term rent.
In addition to renting an apartment or room for a long period of time, you also have the option of a homestay which can be even a cheaper option if you make the most of it! There are websites like Homestay.com that help play matchmaker, and connects guests with live-in hosts who open their homes to travellers.
You get to connect with locals, have comfortable accommodations and save money all at once!
Most, if not all Couchsurfing hosts expect at a minimum some cultural interchange and shared experiences. Opening up a house for strangers to stay for free is not something to take advantage of. It is usually done because the house owners love local experiences and knowledge while travelling and want to relive that in their own towns and cities.
Couchsurfing is all about community. Spend some time hanging out with your host, getting to know them. You don’t pay them, but it’s considered common courtesy to leave a 6 pack behind or take them out for supper or something. Some people may be worried about their safety when staying with a stranger, but use your best judgement and have some trust in fellow humans.
You’ll probably meet some of the coolest people out there!
Researching Accommodations that Aren’t Online
There are many different ways to find accommodation, and if you are travelling in South America or South East Asia, many of the cheapest hostels and hotels won’t be posted online.
The main reason is that they operate on narrow margins and the commission taken by comparison sites means they wouldn’t make a profit.
If you are travelling in this area, it is worth using sites such as TripAdvisor or the Lonely Planet forums to find out where the people already in the country are staying.
While they may not have a website or cannot be found through the hotel and hostel comparison sites, you may be able to find a telephone number and call ahead to book a bed.