A big expense while traveling is sleeping accommodations. Hotels can add up, especially in bigger cities and during the popular seasons. I’ve come to appreciate other options when I’m on the road. Here are a couple of alternatives to the traditional hotel:
Hostels: This is a popular (and cheap) way to travel, especially for young people. Expect to share a room with several other people. Usually, The more people you’re willing to bunk with the cheaper the cost. Bunk Beds are commonplace and you shouldn’t expect peace and quiet. Hostels can get quite rowdy.
A private bathroom is very rare when staying at a hostel so expect something more similar to a college dormitory. Sometimes linens are provided but many times you’re expected to bring your own. You should also have your own toiletries.
Hostels are a great way to make new friends during your travels. Websites like Hostels.com or hostelworld.com have made it easier to search for accommodations based on price, location, etc. You can also read reviews on cleanliness and safety which can offer peace of mind.
I stayed in a great hostel in Rio de Janeiro called Terra Brasillis. A four-person room for two nights was approximately $33/night. It was comfortable and the views of the city were priceless.
Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing brings you about as far out of your comfort zone as you can get. It’s exactly how is sounds, you are sleeping on a stranger’s couch (or futon if you’re lucky). At couchsurfing.org you can search for a place to crash in over 100.000 cities. Go to the “How It Works” page to learn everything you need to know. While this form of traveling sounds scary you can review profiles before you choose your host.
I’ve never couchsurfed but have no aversion to it and look forward to one day doing so.
AirBNB: This is a website that is very similar to couchsufing in that you are staying in someone else’s place. The difference is that you have the option to rent a private room or even and entire space. You can also read reviews before you commit.
This is mainly how I travel now. My first Airbnb experience was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I rented an entire apartment in a wonderful location for $50/night. After a $20 cleaning fee and the standard service fee of $38 my total for 6 nights was $358.
I highly recommend this website to my fellow travelers because it accommodates a variety of desires and budgets. I currently have two bookings on Airbnb; an apartment in Paris (with a view of the Eiffel Tower) for $98/night for the week of Christmas and a houseboat in Amsterdam at the end of December.
So ditch the hotels for a more authentic travel experience and open your world up to many more possibilities.