Updated: 26th January 2016
This website uses affiliate links which may earn a commission for purchases made at no additional cost to you.
Whether you want to get out your ‘comfort zone’, are totally broke, bored of the average hotel chain or simply want to live like a local there is a whole host of alternative accommodation options to call your crash pad.
Camping seems to be dying out in most countries. Why?!? My two-week trip to Croatia saw me heading there with a tent and no plan. I managed to find a campsite or a park which permitted camping 90% of the time and usually came served up with views like the one above. For a back to basics kind of trip, this is always a winner. Hopefully, you have more tent building skills than I do.
My first trip to Amsterdam for under £100 was my introduction to Couch Surfing. Many see it as a free bed but that’s the wrong approach. Getting to enjoy a city hopefully through the eyes of your localhost is so much more valuable than the bed, couch or floor you will be saving a few quid on. There might not be payment but gifts, cooking dinner or offering to help around the house is an easy way to show your appreciation.
I always check this site before booking a hotel anywhere on a city break. From rooms in people’s houses who may be friendly or scarce to hiring a whole apartment, the concept is great. It’s a brilliant option for staying in a neighbourhood you might not have discovered otherwise and also for cutting costs by having a kitchen and place to hang out, additionally now there a lot of other sites you can check out.
House Sitting and Pet sitting
Could this be any easier? In exchange for watching over someone’s property (aka, watching their TV), watering the garden or potentially running some tasks while they are away. many people offer their houses out. From just getting the place or even having all bills included, some will even pay you a fee. If you fancy a giving it a shot for the first time check out a guide to housesitting first from someone who has done it before.
For those who like their four-legged friends, you might get all of the above with a pet thrown in. Really consider this option before committing as that doggy ain’t going to walk himself if you decide on a whim to take off on a last-minute adventure.
One of the most awesome alternative accommodation ideas is a homestay. You get to see real local life and your home host gets a mini business. Remember, this isn’t a hotel so you might have to respect certain house rules or sacrifice comforts. The chance to share a family’s home, gorge on real home-made cuisine and potentially gain some friends for life well outweigh anything you are missing out on at the Hilton.
It may seem like an obvious one but I’m not talking about booking and checking in. Many hostels rely on travellers to staff it. Found a place you want to stick around a while? Head from hostel to hostel until you find one needing staff. In exchange for a few hours work a day you’ll get a bed and hopefully, can shotgun bottom bunk.
Sleeper Train, Bus, Anything…
Potentially the least comfortable depending on the quality of the vehicle but a budget-busting call much of the time as you bundle the transport and accommodation into one. For travelling long distances where you can’t/don’t want to fly it also means you don’t lose any time hopping between destinations. I regularly use night transport, for this reason, it is usually cheaper, and you wake up in a new place which is the best feeling in the world. Second, only to the shower, you will get once you arrive.
Heading abroad and plan on making a base somewhere for a bit? You will need a job, so these don’t replace typical travel accommodation but if you want to grab a warehouse conversion in Berlin or a townhouse in central London this can be a great call. The catch? The property’s are awaiting renovation and you are primarily practical security. For a quirky way to live in some pretty unique properties at dirt cheap prices, this is well worth checking out.
There is no way in hell I have the confidence, looks or charm to nail this nor would I recommend it, but… Last year I met a guy who was four weeks into his trip and had ‘made his bed’ thus far through meeting people on social app platforms *cough. With offers of English lessons, cooking and getting the beers in he had managed to grab himself a stay 19 nights out of the first month. Further in-depth details withhold…
While Austalia and New Zealand look to cut down on unpaid ‘woofing’ opportunities, for most people in the EU and neighbouring countries the chance to have up to a year living abroad with a stipend is made possible still thanks to European Voluntary Service vacancies.
Essentially, by taking your existing skills or building a new set, you can bag your self the chance to live abroad and enjoy free accommodation. Foe those already in the EU this may not be as enticing, but if you don’t have easy access to the common market job place, this could be what you are waiting for.
If you have the cash then you have the dream option. Anyone who is heading away for a diving trip or around some beautiful Islands might just want to sack off the fancy hotel for a life on the seas instead. A great option to really make the most of a visit but if you are on a budget, dream on…
If you are better with kids than I am (read: useless) then opting to be an Au Pair overseas might be your bag.
In exchange for taking care of the kids and helping around the host many of these opportunities will cover your expenses including flights, language courses and day to day living as well as potentially providing a monthly wage.
Although I haven’t given this idea a spin I bet it’s an ideal way to really get stuck into the local culture and experience it rather than observing from the outside. Sound like your bag? Check out these handy tips to get started travelling and working as an Au Pair abroad.