You might have an upcoming vacation, and the budget is tight.
I’m here to help you find a cheap place to stay abroad.
You don’t need to spend most of your money on accommodation while traveling as there are many resources available for finding affordable places to stay in different destinations around the world.
In this blog post, I’ll share tips and recommendations for how to find free and cheap accommodations abroad.
All prices that I mention in this article are in US dollars.
Accommodation Travel Tips
There are so many options available when it comes to booking affordable accommodation for your next trip.
You can stay in a hostel, a hotel, or even rent an apartment. But which option is the best?
It depends on what you’re looking for and where you’re going.
Hostels rock if you’re a solo traveler that wants to meet other travelers and party with them while staying somewhere cheap.
Hotels are nice if you don’t mind paying extra for privacy and avoiding communal spaces.
And renting apartments is ideal if you plan on cooking your own meals because they usually have kitchens available to use at no additional cost!
Keep reading to learn more tips to find cheap accommodation.
1. Use Credit Reward Points
If you have a credit score that’s good enough to qualify for a travel rewards program (or an excellent cashback card), stop hesitating and see what you are eligible for!
Usually, travel credit cards or their cashback counterparts offer points or cashback whenever you make qualifying purchases.
After a while, you can exchange your points for cash or various rewards such as:
- No baggage fees
- Room upgrades
- Discounted rooms
- Free flights
Use these benefits to your advantage if you’re a frequent traveler.
Otherwise, you might end up spending more on annual fees to keep your card. Or if you use your card to make many purchases at home and want to cash out for your trip.
2. Use a Private Browser and VPN When Browsing
While no statistics currently prove using a private browser (incognito mode) affects pricing, it’s recommended to try every avenue available when searching, just in case.
Sometimes websites will gouge prices depending on your location or browsing history using cookies and your IP address.
I’m not saying to buy a VPN for this purpose. However, a virtual private network is a great travel tool to have around.
A VPN will definitely help save money in other areas—such as security—by adding a layer of protection to your data.
3. Compare Prices
If it’s a hotel that you’re after, be sure to use aggregators—websites that pull data from online travel agencies and hotel websites–and compare their prices.
Moreover, while you’re looking for where you’re going to stay, search for any opportunities to use a travel rewards card and cashback web apps such as Rakuten.
7 Cheap Accommodation Options
Traveling is expensive, and finding the right accommodation can be even more difficult.
As a traveler, you want to get as much value for your money as possible. Finding cheap hotels or hostels is hard work, especially if you are looking at prices.
I’ve done the research for you! Here’s our list of the best cheap accommodation options in 2021.
1. Campgrounds: Sleep Outside
Are you OK with staying outside, in a cabin, or in your car?
Camping’s the best option for you to find cheap accommodation!
Sometimes areas like national parks and grasslands offer free campgrounds for you to set up camp. Other times, you’ll find affordable options to rent a site that includes essentials like water and electricity hookups.
Depending on where you’re at, websites like Hipcamp are a fantastic option for finding campgrounds for RVs, camping, and glamping—luxurious camping.
When camping, ensure you and your traveling companions can protect yourselves from aggressive wildlife, natural disasters, and potential injuries.
Some ways that you can prepare yourselves is to learn how to repel and combat wildlife in the area you’re camping in, remain up-to-date with local natural disasters, and carry a first aid kit.
2. Home Exchange
If you want to pull two weeds with one yank, consider exchanging your home with someone from around the world who wants to travel to your city.
Exchanging your home with someone makes it so you don’t need to find a house sitter while dealing with the complications of finding accommodation.
Websites like Home Exchange act as a middle-man to connect home exchangers while covering property damage for around $150 a year.
Hostels are cheap accommodation alternatives to hotels that provide a shared dormitory with people of the same sex. Or private rooms if you spend more.
While hostels are notorious for theft and could potentially host a list of safety concerns, many of them are pretty safe. It’s all about doing your research.
Moreover, many hostels offer 24-hour security, and some have staff on the clock most of the time.
Backpacker Hostel Tips
- If you use the free internet provided, always use protection—use a VPN to keep you safe from potential data thieves.
- Speaking of thieves, make sure that the hostel has a locker or safe to protect your stuff. If it doesn’t, it might be best to avoid the hostel altogether.
- Be considerate. For example, if you have an early-morning flight, this could make it awkward when your alarm’s screaming at you at 4 a.m. Do your best to avoid hitting the snooze button because you’re in a shared dorm, not your home.
- Since the showers are shared, wear sandals in the shower to protect yourself from nasty infections such as athlete’s foot.
If you haven’t heard of Airbnb, it’s a website where hosts rent extra space to travelers.
Rental options range from homestays—where you stay in a shared space with a family—hostels or entire homes.
Despite some encountering negative experiences with hosts, you have over 2.5 million hosts globally to choose from. Some offer amenities, amazing deals, or castles to give you a medieval experience.
5. House Sitting
What Is House Sitting?
House sitting is a service where a house sitter babysits a traveler’s home, animal companions, and plants.
Homeowners will often let house sitters stay in their homes as payment. Sometimes house sitters are paid on top of given accommodation.
Moreover, a house sitter’s duties include cleaning, caring for their animals, watering plants, and anything else agreed upon.
House Sitting Websites
Unless you know someone in another region or country who’s willing to let you stay in their place while they’re gone, or if you know someone who has connections, you will need to search various websites for a home that you can house sit.
Unfortunately, you’ll likely have to pay a fee to have a membership on these websites.
You know—to appear trustworthy.
Paid House Sitting “Jobs” Abroad
One of the most trusted websites, TrustedHouseSitters, markets itself mainly toward babysitting owners’ pets. However, it’s still house sitting.
If you’re interested in getting started with TrustedHouseSitter, it seems straightforward:
- Sign up for a membership, which is $129 a year.
- Verify your identity and trustworthiness through various means such as references, ID, phone number, and more.
- Search for a house that sits in the city you want to stay.
- Send an application to the owner of the place you want to house sit.
- Wait as they review your application and if you’re a good fit.
- Once you’re accepted, travel to their place, the house sits, and be the best sitter around.
If you’re a home or pet owner, this is a fantastic service for you if you can’t take your animal companions abroad or want someone to watch your place.
Compared to TrustedHouseSitters, Nomador offers a $99 per year plan to apply to unlimited house sits, and MindMyHouse charges $20 a year.
If you’re interested in riskier yet free accommodation, you could stay on other people’s couches.
The worst way to go about that is to ask strangers if you can sleep in their place. However, Couchsurfing.com offers a safer way to ask strangers to sleep in their homes.
What Is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing is a website where hosts can share their extra space with weary travelers.
It’s an excellent option for budgeting backpackers or those who want to immerse themselves in the area’s culture. When hosting someone or staying with a host, do your research.
Also, dig through their reviews. If you’re a traveler, consider keeping your valuables in a luggage locker to keep on the safe side since you’re already saving a lot of money.
Is Couchsurfing Free?
Couchsurfing is free to an extent.
Here enters the Lifetime Verification.
While it’s free to stay with hosts, search the website, and almost everything else, there’s a hidden cost.
For some, it’ll be harder to find someone to host them. Since they can’t find hosts in the first place, they can’t build their reputation, therefore leading to a cycle of difficulty trying to find a room.
While there’s a debate going around whether Lifetime Verification helps, it’s not essential to purpose.
7. Free Accommodation in Exchange for Work
If you want to experience the world without having to jump through rings of fire that are visas, there’s a more straightforward, long-term option.
You can participate in labor-intensive positions like tending organic farms, assisting language, ski-instructors, or more in exchange for accommodation and food.
18 is the minimum age requirement to use these programs, except for some family projects and occasional host offers. Moreover, your shifts range between four and six hours a day.
Volunteering Abroad in Exchange for Accommodation
There are various positions that you can exchange your time and energy for accommodation.
Some websites that pair you with your future positions include:
- Workaway has an enormous list of countries that have an equally massive list of jobs available for volunteers.
- Do you have a green thumb? Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) connects organic farms with volunteers from around the globe to give both sides opportunities for cultural and educational exchange.
- If you’re fantastic with kids, consider becoming an Au Pair.
- A route that doesn’t require a membership fee to contact hosts is Working Traveler. However, you’re limited to contacting a few hosts a week. You’ll find plenty of different jobs requiring a myriad of skills on this site.
- You’ll find internships, teaching, restoration projects, and more on HelpStay.
- Worldpackers is another fantastic option for those who possess a variety of skills.
- Hippo Help is a free work exchange platform that doesn’t have the best-looking website, but it’s worth looking into.
You should note that most of these sites charge inexpensive membership fees to stay operational.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Benefits of Volunteering Abroad in Exchange for Accommodation?
While all of the positions should technically be paid, the fact that you are trading time for accommodation and cultural exchange in itself is, by definition, payment.
Some hosts might offer to pay you at least the country’s minimum wage, which gives you play money.
If you’re a polyglot, volunteering for a farm in, for instance, Japan would be a great chance for you to surround yourself with the language and learn it quicker.
Since you’re saving money on food and housing and potentially earning a little extra income, you could reinvest the money into projects to make you money in the long run, courses to learn a new skill, or a spend it and take a trip to the nearest bar.
Are There Free House-Sitting Websites?
Nomador allows you to view offers and apply to three houses sits for free.
It also doesn’t specify if you can use apply to more house sits later on.
Is It Possible To Find Cheap Accommodation Abroad?
It is possible to find cheap accommodation abroad, but you will need a little creativity. Doing so is a great way to save money for other parts of your trip that you’ll find more important.
The most important thing is:
Don’t give up when searching for ways to save money. There are plenty of ways that you can still enjoy your travels without breaking the bank.
Where do you plan on going?