You don’t need to be rich to travel the world! Thankfully there are tons of budget options for accommodation across the globe. You could spend $1000 for a week in a hotel, $150 at a hostel, or stay for free if you couch-surf…the choice is yours! Here are some of the options I have used and recommend, along with about how much they will cost you. Enjoy!
Backpacker Hostels – Cost $5-35 per night (depends on location)
This is the option I have relied on the most. If you are traveling with a friend there are often two person rooms. If you are traveling alone, you will find rooms which usually vary from 4-12 beds. There are typically lockers for your things, free wifi, a simple breakfast, a common area, a shared kitchen, a luggage storage area, and helpful staff. Hostels are a great place to meet other travelers from all over the world. I usually find that I sleep quite well in hostels as you get used to having a shared room.
- Check out HostelBookers.com or Hostelworld.com. They are fantastic sites to check out the hostels in the area you will be traveling to.
- Be sure to check out the ratings, reviews, and location of the hostel to make sure it is what you are looking for.
- I often show up at these hostels without a booking, however if it is peak season or it makes you more comfortable, you can book your hostel in advance by paying a percentage of the total amount on your credit card.
- Eye shades and ear plugs do help as roommates may come in later or be catching an early morning bus or flight.
Guesthouses, Budget Hotels – Cost:$10-$50 per night
A guesthouse, inn, or cheap hotel provides you with your own room and more privacy for a slightly higher price than the hostel. If you are tired of sharing a room with others or needing to get some work done this is a great option. In some parts of the world there are not an abundance of hostels and these will be your go to option.
- 1. Check out Booking.com for a great list of guesthouses in the country of your choice.
- 2. Always ask to see the room before paying to make sure you are getting what you want.
Airbnb Cost: Varies dramatically by location and taste
While I wouldn’t call Airbnb a true budget option, it has grown tremendously in popularity over past years. If you are traveling with a partner or group and want more privacy than a hostel and more connection with locals than a hotel, this would an ideal option.
- Look for hosts who are active users, reply often, verified, and have good photos of their place
- Check out the reviews and look to see if they update their calendar on when their place is available.
- Check out similar sites like Housetrip, or Roomorama as well.
CouchSurfing – Cost: Free
If you haven’t heard of CouchSurfing.com you should have. There is a 7 million member community of people from across the globe who open up their homes and apartments to travelers for free. You may be given your own bedroom, a couch, or a blow up mattress to crash on. This is a fabulous way to meet interesting people who love to travel and learn from other cultures.
The verification and vouching system which this service provides works well to prevent problems from occurring through couch surfing. When you create your profile be sure to provide lots of information for others to get to know you, send out personalized CouchSurfing requests, and try joining local CouchSurfing meetups to get your first references.
When it does come time to travel make time to get to know your hosts, or even prepare them a meal or dessert as a way of saying thanks for hosting me! HospitalityClub is a similar website which also is worth a look!
Volunteer/Work Exchange Cost: Often Free
Another great option is working or volunteering in exchange for room and board. I absolutely loved spending 3 months living in the southern part of the Amazon Rainforest teaching English in exchange for room and board. The way that the small community of Puerto Quijarro, Bolivia embraced me was incredible.
- Check how many hours you are expected to work, and if meals are included
- Some organizations charge a small fee to pay for costs with hosting you
- WWOOF, WorkAway, HelpX, and VolunteerSouthAmerica.net (Where I found several places to volunteer/work during my 5 years in Latin America!)
Local Homestay Cost: $10-$50 per night
This is a fabulous option for soaking in the culture, language, and traditions of a local family while traveling or living in a new country. Typically a family will rent out a bedroom to you and will provide you with some or all of the meals in addition to teaching you about their culture and traditions.
Many times homestays are connected with language schools. I spent my first 6 months in Curitiba, Brazil living with a wonderful Brazilian family who made breakfast for me and my two Korean roommates every day, took us to their family gatherings, helped us with our Portuguese, and even did our laundry!
- Google “homestay” and the country or city you hope to visit
- Look for language schools where you are traveling and ask if they have a list of homestay families.
- Check out Homestay.com for a list of homestays available where you will be traveling.
Camping Cost: $0-$10
If you are the outdoor type you can’t beat camping. As long as you have a tent or sleeping hammock this often will often be completely free and provide you access to beautiful places while you travel. Many countries places, such as New Zealand, Hawaii, Norway, Switzerland, and Ireland are fabulous places to get into the outdoors.
- Don’t camp on private property and find out local rules for camping before you go
- A rental car, trekking tour, etc. may be needed to get to remote places that public transportation simply can’t get you to
- Hostels will often let you camp outside or on the patio for less than the price of a bed. This is often helpful if there is a major festival in the area.
Overnight Transportation – Cost: Ticket Price
I have used this one A LOT and it has saved me a chunk of change! I recently went to Peru for nine days and really wanted to go from Cusco to Lake Titicaca, but didn’t want to lose a day going there and a day coming back. My solution…the all night bus.
Sleeping on buses, trains, planes, and boats may take some practice to master, however once you get good at it this, it is a fabulous way to save money and see a lot more!
- Bring earplugs, eye-mask, and warm layers
- Make friends with the people and let them know where you are going so they wake you up before you stop
- Keep your valuables on you
- Bring a headlamp and earbuds to read, listen to music, or watch movies on your devices if you can’t sleep
Sleeping in Public Places Cost: Free
If you have an early flight or train and don’t won’t to pay for a hotel room you will be at for a few hours, just sleep in the airport or train station. I have done this countless times, from train stations in the Copper Canyon in Mexico, to airports in Lima, Tokyo, and Thessoloanki, Greece. While not the most comfortable sleeping option, it beats the stress and cost of finding, getting to and from, and paying for a hotel room I barely use. Transportation terminals have bathrooms, food, other travelers, security possibly wifi, and are generally open all night.
- Find a good spot away from foot traffic, announcements, and bright lights if possible.
- Secure your valuables to yourself and use your backpack or bag as a pillow or have it right next to you.
- Always bring earplugs, an eye-mask and something warm
- Set multiple alarms to make sure you don’t miss your flight or train!
Well there you have it. My advice to traveling on the cheap. Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments section!