If you are planning a backpacking trip, the chances are that accommodation costs are about to eat into your budget in a big way. However, if you are prepared to be a little flexible, there are several ways to arrange accommodation more cheaply, and maybe enhance your travel experience, too.
Hostels provide budget overnight accommodation for travellers and backpackers. The cheapest, and most commonly available, option is a bunk-style bed in a dormitory room with other amenities shared. Many hostels also offer private accommodation in single or double rooms.
Whilst some hostels cater exclusively for younger people, this is by no means universal and this option is regularly used by families and older people too. Folklore about low standards is just that. Modern hostels are clean, sociable places with a reputation for providing budget-oriented accommodation which is both safe and secure.
Hostelworld is a user-friendly website for booking hostels worldwide. They offer good deals with no booking fees.
As a result of consistently good feedback, home exchanges are becoming increasingly popular as a cheap way of living abroad for a time. The concept simply involves a mutual agreement to swap homes for a time – other than travel costs, a home exchange is just as cheap as living at home.
This is an option which appeals most to families or older travellers. There is a sophisticated verification process with like-minded families in direct contact with each other and friends on hand at each end to provide assistance and a troubleshooting backup in the unlikely event of mishaps.
The main websites are Home Exchange, Home for Exchange and International Home Exchange Network (IHEN).
This is an old idea for travellers which, in certain parts of the world, could prove a very cost-effective option for budget travel. Facilities are likely to be minimalist, with just a bed and simple in-house cuisine, but the hospitality will be genuine and the surroundings quiet and reflective. Most monasteries, though not all, occupy secluded locations.
You can find great value for money at monasteries, with some offering dormitory accommodation for as little as £10 per night or less, whilst others will simply request a donation.
There are a number of Internet sites with accommodation details including 15 Great Monastery Stays, Monastery Stays Around The World, and Monastery Stays.
Short Term Rental
This facility allows travellers to stay in good quality apartments with all facilities, at rates around a third cheaper than those charged by hotels for rooms of a similar standard. All accommodation is regularly checked and user reviews are available. In many instances, the arrangement includes insurance cover for damage. This can be quite cost-effective for two people sharing, especially where cooking facilities can be used to bring down the cost of meals.
Rental websites offering a range of accommodation types in worldwide locations include Roomorama and Wimdu.
Accommodation is always a limiting factor on budget trips, and should be taken into consideration if you’re planning to visit lots of destinations on a multi stop flight. Achieving significant cost savings will allow you to stay longer, and leave more money for you to spend on sampling local lifestyle choices – one of the main reasons you planned the trip anyway.
Jim Sturgess is a freelance travel writer.