Who says accommodation has to be expensive when you’re travelling? In fact it’s possible to cut the costs down to zero if you plan cleverly. Of course, there are some great, low-cost hostels out there and it’s always important to find somewhere safe to stay when you’re on the go, however as with any aspect of travel, there are always ways to save money. For accommodation on the cheap give these ideas a go…
1. Work in a hostel
If you’re planning on sticking in one place for an extended period of time, then working in a hostel can be a good way to earn a bit of extra cash and give you a roof over your head. Although working in a hostel can be hard work, it can also give you a fun and friendly environment which allows you to meet new people.
Remember, to find work in a hostel, you need to have a ‘can-do’ attitude and be prepared for the fact that you may well be scrubbing toilets!
2. Couch surf
Couchsurfing has become increasingly popular in recent years and is used by thousands of backpackers. Not only does it give you a free bed but it gives you the opportunity to spend time with a local who can really show you the area. Obviously safety is a priority when it comes to couchsurfing and there are certain things you should bear in mind. Use a reputable website such as Couchsurfing, Global Freeloaders or Stay 4 Free.
Many sites such as Couchsurfing have a rating system to give you an impression of the person you’ll be staying with. A few other things to look out for in your potential host are that they have a photo, that their profile is filled out and that they have reviews from other guests.
Of course, it’s all down to your own judgement and what you feel comfortable with. However, if you decide to go for it, remember, research is everything.
3. Sleep while you travel
If, like me, you have ever been Inter-railing you’ll know how arduous those long journeys can be. If you’re travelling from country to country it’s possible to spend 12 hours on board. That’s probably enough time to read about three books and get bored of all the songs on your iPod. However, a good option for when you’re travelling long distances is to opt for a night train. Book yourself a couchette (usually slightly more expensive than a standard ticket) a rest soundly as the hours fly by. Not only do you have the excitement of waking up somewhere new, but you’ve saved yourself a night in a hostel and a boring train journey.
4. Home exchanges
This is an option which requires a lot more planning. Obviously you also have to own a home for people to stay (you can’t just invite a bunch of travellers round to your parents house!)
A home exchange is basically where you swap homes with a family from another country. You both get the benefit of visiting somewhere new as well as having somewhere nice (and free) to stay. Many people avoid taking part in a home exchange because they are worried about security. It’s important to remember that the other family is also entrusting you with their home. Plus, online sites have lots of protocols and verification procedures similar to with Couchsurfing.
They say the best things in life are free!
Photo credit: Chris Lancaster