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11 Alternative Accommodation options

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Updated: 26th January 2016

Whether you want to get out of 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.

Croatia Camping


My two-week trip across the best places to visit in Croatia saw me heading there with a tent and no plan. I managed to find a campsite or a park that permitted camping 90% of the time and usually came served 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.

Couch Surfing

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 local host, 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 are easy ways to show your appreciation.

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 giving it a shot for the first time, check out this guide to housesitting 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.

Cambodia Home Stay


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 homemade cuisine and potentially gain some friends for a 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 for a while? Head from hostel to hostel until you find one needing staff. In exchange for a few hours of 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 – buses, anyway, as night trains across Europe are more expensive – 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.

Property Guardians

Are you heading abroad and planning 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 properties 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.


While Australia 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 still made possible thanks to European Voluntary Service vacancies.

Essentially, by taking your existing skills or building a new set, you can bag yourself the chance to live abroad and enjoy free accommodation. For those already in the EU, this may not be as enticing, but if you don’t have easy access to the common market workplace, this could be what you are waiting for.

Dan Flying Solo


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…

Au Pair

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 house, 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 in to the local culture and experience it rather than observe from the outside. Sound like your bag? Check out these handy tips to get started travelling and working as an Au Pair abroad or consider these Airbnb alternative sites.

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