Accommodation always takes up a large part of your travel budget, so if you know how to cut back on this, you will save a lot of money. That’s why we give you 30 tips for spending the night cheaply. From free beds to affordable luxury. It will surprise you how simple it is to save money on accommodation if you know which websites you should visit!
Free sleeping places
Yes you read that right, free overnight accommodation is possible. In fact, there are many people who travel the world without ever having to pay for accommodation. How is that possible? Simple, you just sleep at someone’s home on the couch, floor or on a mattress. Ultimately it is about more than just a free place to sleep. It’s about meeting locals and exchanging stories and experiences. Don’t act like a spoiled hotel guest, but feel privileged that someone opens their doors for you and gives you a place to stay.
Where can you find this?
There are a number of online communities on the internet that you can join. You can contact hosts or you can choose to open your own home to others. Note that it is a community, so the idea is to “give back what you take.” Below is a list of online communities:
This is the most famous and active online community with more than three million members. Because the couch surfers and hosts judge each other, you can assume that it is reasonably safe. Bad hosts, after all, get bad reviews and quickly disappear from the community.
Alternatives to couchsurfing.com are:
The same kind of idea as couch surfing with around half a million members.
Especially strong in Australia. It is expected that within 6 months after a visit, you will also host someone.
A number of options for free accommodation.
An online community for people who travel by bike and need a place to sleep.
In exchange for work/odd jobs
Give a little, take a little. This is especially a good option if you are travelling for a longer period of time. In exchange for a few hours of work a day, you get shelter and sometimes food. There are many options for arranging this. Of course you can always ask your hostel if you can work for accommodation. But there are also a number of websites where you can arrange these work-for-accommodation deals.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This is a global network of organic farms where you get free accommodation and food in exchange for 4-6 hours of work per day. You often pay a fee per country to access the contact details.
The same idea as with WWOOFF, only here the options are not only limited to farm work. There are opportunities worldwide and you don’t have to pay a membership fee to get in touch with hosts.
The same idea as helpx.net but with slightly fewer hosts.
House-sitting is an ideal way if you want to stay in one place for a while. You watch someone’s house for a longer period (often including a garden and/or pets). Usually it is free and the home owner pays for gas, water and electricity. Sometimes you do have to pay for these usage costs yourself. There are countless sites where you can get in touch with home owners who have not been home for a while and want someone to look after their home. However, these networks are not all free, but work with an annual membership fee. Below you will find the options.
Stay at someone’s home
People have been renting attic rooms or other extra space that they have had for centuries. But it never happened on such a massive scale. With the arrival of websites such as AirBnb.com you can rent a room in people’s homes. Often the quality is no less than you can expect from a ‘professional’ bed and breakfast. The prices of these accommodations are not always cheaper by the way. In cheap cities these places are sometimes even more expensive. In expensive cities, where the rent is high and the residents are eager for an extra income, the costs are often much lower than a traditional bed and breakfast or guesthouse.com
Camping is often a cheap option and also possible in many countries. In quite a lot of countries it is allowed to camp in the wild, as long as you stick to the leave-no-trace rule. The easiest way is to check per country what is and is not allowed and whether there is an organization that has put the available camping spots in a booklet or on a website. Are you going to camp within Europe? You may already be familiar with the website campinmygarden.com . A site that is comparable to couchsurfing and airbnb.com. However, the difference is that you can pitch your tent in the garden of the residents or (pub) owner. You will find many of these options in the United Kingdom in particular.
The last option for camping, if you have been unable to find a place or simply do not want to pay for it, is guerilla camping. Basically it means that you camp in places where it is actually not allowed. In the city, on a bench, under the bridge. Just make sure you don’t get caught and that you do it in a safe neighbourhood.
If you are travelling for a longer period of time, you can hardly avoid staying at a hostel at least once. People with little backpacking experience often have prejudices about hostels. They are dirty, people have sex in a bunk bed while you are underneath, the kitchens are rancid and there are more roaches than guests. These ‘horror stories’ are all true, but are an exception rather than the rule. Most hostels are in fact very clean and offer an excellent opportunity to meet new people. The fact that you sleep in a room with several people may be awkward in the beginning, but after a while you don’t even notice that someone is changing next to your bed. The two websites below have the most extensive range of hostels and also have many reliable reviews. Very handy if you want to know in advance where you will end up.
Everyone knows how to book a hotel via the internet, but not everyone knows how to get the most value for money. With the websites below you can often save a large amount money or get a super luxury hotel for the price of a hostel. RoomTravel; hotel rooms of people who unexpectedly couldn’t come. It happens every night that someone has booked a hotel and unexpectedly cannot make it. Most hotels do not give any money back. This is where Roomertravel.com has a solution.
If you cannot make it, roomertravel offers the possibility to resell your room. Because there is often some rushing involved, these rooms are often a fraction of the cost and sometimes even 50% less than on a website such as booking.com. You will of course find the lowest prices last-minute and the cheap prices are often only available for a number of nights.
Because the competition in the ‘hotel booking market’ is so great, the big players such as booking.com and trivago.com spend a lot of money on promotional advertisements. Something that travelpony.com clearly does not want. Instead of recruiting people with advertisements, they try to find hotel visitors with the help of social media. As a result, they claim to be able to offer much lower hotel stays than the large players in the market. Especially the hotels in the US are well represented, but there are also big cities in Europe that are well represented. One to keep an eye on.
It is certainly not cheap, but if you are looking for affordable luxury then this is the site that you should visit. Discounts of up to 70% are given on the most luxurious stays. You must first create a profile to see the destinations. However, this is free and de-registering is also very easy.
Of course hotels are very disappointed when their rooms are empty, which is why they are quite prepared to offer their rooms at a lower price. But if everyone knows this they would all want low prices. That is why they often choose the middle ground: they say that a room is available, but do not give the exact name of the hotel. That way, someone who books through a ‘normal website’ simply pays the full amount. However, via the websites below the rooms are offered with only a description of the hotel room, the facilities and in which neighbourhood the hotel is located. The prices are a lot lower, but you will only see in which hotel you sleep.
The websites that you can use for this are:
In public transportation
One for the backpackers. Not always the most comfortable, but you will hit two birds with one stone. You will be taken from point A to point B while you (hopefully) get a few hours of sleep. Especially useful if you have to make a long journey. Especially night trains with cots are a very good option!