Without proper planning, the total costs for accommodations can sometimes rival that of airfare. There will always be travelers who insist upon staying in well-recognized, top-of-the-line name brand hotels, but for the more adventurous, there are several ways to save on where you rest your weary head after a day of traveling.
- Book an airfare/hotel package: If you intend to fly economy, a tour company that offers an airfare/hotel package may be for you. Friendly Planet is a favorite operator of World Travelure. It offers package deals to Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Friendly Planet has several options with such budget friendly options as a 9 day tour to Thailand or India starting at $1599. Tour operators who bundle airfare and hotel are perfect for those who would normally shy away from a “tour group” experience as you can be as involved as you want with the tour program or simply use it as a vehicle for inexpensive airfare/hotel.
- Short term rentals: It can be challenging to find reasonably priced accommodations when visiting expensive cities such as Reykjavik, London, Tokyo, and Oslo. When budget accommodations exist, they often leave something to be desired, often in terms of location, amenities, or safety. Short term rentals are often a great way to circumvent sky high hotel rooms. Airbnb, 9flats and Homeaway are great resources for finding a short term (or even long term) rental. Hosts and guests also have the option to rate each other.
- Glamping: Glamorous camping is perfect for those who want to sleep in the great outdoors, but aren’t interested in pitching their own tent. Cabins, cabanas, teepees, tree houses, yurts, tents, eco-pods, VW buses, and Airstreams are available for the Glamper with price points that run the gamut from what you might expect to pay at a Bed and Breakfast to a high-end luxury safari camp site. Generally, Glampers will find better deals in the Americas, Oceania and Europe than in Africa or Asia. The list of Glamping websites are endless with Glamping.com and Glamping Hub leading the pack.
- Hostels: Many people hear the word hostel and cringe, thinking back to crowded dorm rooms, lumpy bunk beds and dodgy bathrooms. Hostels should not be discounted as they are a great option for solo and budget travelers. They tend to attract outgoing and adventurous guests. Communal areas often provide the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger who may become your travel partner for the day or even longer. Hostels are no longer restricted to the boisterous backpacker. With a downturn in the world economy, travelers of all ages have become thriftier. Clever entrepreneurs have moved in to close the gap between the Gap year backpacker and the more mature traveler. As a result, there are more hostels offering en suite private rooms and activities that appeal to the more seasoned traveler. Upscale hostels have become so hot that the New York Times recently profiled various Haute Hostels. Hostelworld.com and Hostels.com are reliable sites users can use to find a hostel to match their travel lifestyle. The hostel community is a rather opinionated lot and they are not shy about sharing their opinion regarding the safety, comfort, cleanliness, and type of travelers who frequent a particular hostel.
- University Housing: Another option for expensive cities is to consider a stay in a University dorm room during the summer. Some universities like the London School of Economics, which is on a trimester system, rent out private dorm rooms in between terms. An added bonus for the budget traveler is that student accommodations also happen to be located in areas where there are low cost dining options. To search for a university stay, visist University-rooms.com.
- Homestay/farmstays: Perfect for City Slickers looking for a rural retreat or for the traveler who wants to live like a local. Each farm/ranch will have its own policy regarding whether it is expected, or even possible, should you so desire, to lend a hand. Generally, guests are not expected to pitch in. Farmstayus is a resource for U.S. based farm stays while those looking for an experience abroad should visit Responsiblevacation.com.
- Lighthouse: Experienced traveler are often looking for a different spin on their vacation. What better way to out do the Joneses than to post pictures of your stay at a Lighthouse. Some even offer free stays to volunteers. To find Lighthouses around the world, visit Cyberlights.com or Lighthousesrus.org.
- Hotel Points/Cash Combos: This is a great option for those who like to have the reassurance of a global brand hotel or who are looking for specific amenities such as a pool, gym, or room service. Marriott and Starwood Hotels offer cash and point redemption.