Maximising Your Money - Affordable Accommodation
Travel costs can be many things, from wildly luxurious to bare bones basic. Following my tips below can enable to you prioritise your funds, stick to your budget, minimise expenses while you are away and hopefully get further on the all important dollar!
Accommodation is often your biggest expense on the road. If you truly want to do the open free spirited I'm going to go where the wind takes me trip, that will always cost you more. Last minute anything can be expensive and while there are last minute websites, they aren't usually for budget accommodation. You may get a night at the Sheraton half price but for most budget travellers that's still a weeks worth of accommodation. Check out my suggestions below and hopefully they will help you get close to your daily spend limits.
Don't get so hung up on your daily accommodation budget that you end up having to blow it for a night, when you just can't get a bed in a hostel.
There is always going to be times you can't get a bed somewhere and while one of my top 10 travel tips is to always make sure you have enough for a night at the Hilton if need be, you don't want to have to use that money unless its an absolute emergency.
There are lots of great websites out there now for budget travellers. Home stays, couch surfing, budget share and hostel rooms, its endless.
Couchsurfing: This is something you will have to make your own mind up on. I've used it before and loved it but you have to make sure you make informed decisions about where you stay especially if you are female.
AirBnB: I love AirBnB and have been using it for years. We often joke we might have been their very first guests. What I'm finding now though is that the prices are really starting to climb. There are a lot of people that are running holiday lets as a business from AirBnB now so it is getting harder to find cost effective stays. The exception to this rule is shared or private rooms. I don't do shared rooms from AirBnB. I feel I can get a hostel dorm for the same price or often cheaper than a room on AirBnB, & I feel free to come and go knowing that there is structure there if something goes wrong. In a person's private home they have no control over who you are sharing with and if I'm not comfortable with my room mate what are my options. Private rooms however are still mostly affordable. You can book in advance, they have an app for your phone and you maintain some level of privacy.
Homestays are the other version of AirBnB mainly aimed at sharing someone's home (if that makes sense). I'm really liking it so far. The accommodation seems cheaper than AirBnB & the hosts seem more focused on helping you out. It seems like a cross between couchsurfing and AirBnB to me.
Just remember to consider what you want to do in the are you are visiting. If you have limited time and really just need somewhere to crash, paying for a room is possibly a better option than couchsurfing. Using the couchsurfing website pretty much means you will have some great interaction with local people, however the other side of that is you can't just use their home as a crash pad. It's respectful to invest some time and effort into getting to know them.
House Sitting: usually for longer terms but house sitting is a great way to really ingrain yourself into the local community and also get to rest and plan your next leg. For free too! There are lots of housesitting websites. Google is your best friend here.
It's so easy to see a cheap room rate and get really excited. Wow I'm staying in Barcelona for $30 a night! I'm so kick-arse!
What you need to remember is that accommodation costs are so much more than a nightly rate. You have to factor everything into that rate or you could end up spending much much more than you should.
Use my LATER scale to calculate an actual cost.