You could probably say that Accommodations are the most expensive part of any vacation you take. If you could reduce that expense, you could probably save a lot of money off the total cost of your vacation. If you could find free or inexpensive lodging it would have the biggest impact on your budget.
Many ways exist where travelers can find a decent place to stay without depleting their entire vacation funds. These are known as Hospitality Exchanges.
There are several ways to get free accommodations within your own country or even in other countries. Listed below are a few websites and a little about each that can make this happen.
Couchsurfing – Stay with locals instead of at hotels. Not only do you get to stay with locals, but you have someone whom can actually show you around and educate you on your surroundings.
Global Freeloaders – A lot like Couchsurfing. Again, you stay with locals whom enjoy taking you to see the greatest events that you couldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. they send you to the greatest places to visit so you don’t waste time trying to decide which is the best place to go.
Hospitality Club– Members help each other when they are traveling – be it a roof for the night or a guided tour through the town.
Stay4Free– This is actually a home exchange network. You fill out where you want to go and when or if someone wants to travel to your area, you exchange homes for the specified time.
Vacation Rentals – Most of the time, this is much more economical than trying to rent a motel room. Other advantages are you have a kitchen for cooking, most of the time more bedrooms and bathrooms, and definitely more privacy.
Of course with each of these sites, you would need to use good judgement. People actually have ratings from people who have exchanged homes or boarded individuals or their families. Different ones have different levels of verification, so once again, you do need to use your best judgement.
You might also want to consider Hostelworld.com. Many offer small rooms, single and doubles designed for solotravelers or couples. Their are different types of Hostels and some of the bigger international chains such as YHA and Hostelling International focus more on the older or group travelers. Hostels are safe, secure and cheap. A good site to look at is Hostelworld.com.
Farm Stays– In general it’s like staying at a bed and breakfast. Prices and accommodations vary widely mostly depending on location. You can expect to pay around $40.00 per night. Some of the best sites to visit are:
Airbnb– Another good accommodation alternative, this site connects with homeowners who rent out their homes/apartments to you. You’ll get all the comforts of home, the chance to stay in a local, non-touristy part of where you are going, and pay a fraction of the cost of a hotel room.
Agoda– An amazing website for accommodation in Asia. Use this as your primary accommodation website for guesthouses and hotels in Asia. They have the most robust inventory and offer the best rates.
Housecarers – A website you can join and travel rent free all over the world as a house sitter and/or pet sitter. Some of them actually pay you in addition to offering rent free. Housecarers have been matching Home owners with reputable House Sitters since October 2000.
Booking.com– Booking.com provides great resource and booking site for cheap hotels and other accommodation. I like their easy to use interface too.
Hotwire– They offer a blind booking process. They essentially say “we have a super rate on a 3 star hotel in New York’s Time Square” and you book it without knowing the hotel. While that sounds scary, I’ve never ended up in a bad hotel and have saved a ton of money in the process. Highly recommended site.
Expedia– They do a really good deal on cruises, hotels, and sometimes flights. Better flight booking sites are Kayak and Vayama. However, for cruises and package deals, you really can’t beat Expedia. They also have a really good loyalty program.
Priceline– They allow you to bid on hotels and save a lot more money than just by booking directly. When used in conjunction with the bidding site Better Bidding, you can substantially lower the cost of your hotels by as much as 60%.