What’s on this page?
Find here some useful tips and advice when travelling around the world to help you sleep the cheap and authentic way.
Travel Accommodation page content:
- Hostel or Hotel?
- Booking or not booking
- Night Transport
- Like A Local
- World Regions Tips
Around the world, even when not official, there is often a way to ask and use your tent or hammock at a cheaper price in the garden of accommodation places. Many places would actually have an official option for that.
You can also ask local people to camp in their garden. This request might surprise some people but it definitely works. This will give you a kind of local experience because you will partially live with them, probably eating with them at least (and at a cheaper price or free).
Go wild! I wanted to start with it as this is to me the main point and advantage of camping. Wild camp where there is nothing else around (accommodation wise), in the middle of nowhere, probably getting the best view you can imagine. Where there are many rules about camping in public places in Europe/US, it is not such a thing around the world and you should be fine most of the time. The only thing could be not knowing you are on a private land but again, a small chat or sign language with the owner and you go.
As a logical rule, getting a private room in a hotel should be more expensive than a private room in a hostel. However, many hostels became very popular and have private room rates that could be more expensive than in hotels so check anyway.
It goes to a point where depending on countries, you could find a bed in a dorm being more expensive than a private room in a cheap average hotel (in many countries in Asia).
The thing is, it is all about demand and offer, if one place got trendy in all kind of travel guides/blogs, they can rise their prices, and many did…
As a general advice, never book!
- It requires you extra organisation you don’t need and don’t want plus you never know what can happen. You might have such a good time in your previous place that you want to stay longer (does happen quite often).
- Not every place to stay is bookable through Internet and the cheapest options might be the ones missing (especially basic homestay with locals who don’t have internet or don’t know how to use booking websites).
- Prices would always (should) be cheaper if you deal directly on the spot with them than pre-book them through a website that takes them commission for doing so.
- Not booking allows you to negotiate the rate with them. And if you arrive at the end of the day, late check-in gives you even more power and it is always easier to negotiate. Obviously, it would be easier to get a discount from an accommodation having some available rooms / beds at 5-6 pm than if you try to get discount at 10 am the same day.
Book your first night arriving in a big city (and more if arriving late):
I generally don’t book but it can be good to book your first night. It could take you a bit of time and knowledges to find the best deal in a city and it would be easier to search for it without all our stuff on you and with a bit of time.
Watch out: some places offer discount online to attract booking but will charge you the normal rate if you go to their desk, so always check anyway!
– Hostelz: comparing rates from different booking websites.
– Booking.com: leader in the accommodation booking, they often have the cheapest rate for hotels and they run quite a few discounts that maybe not all the booking websites can offer.
I’m not sure if it is needed to introduce this one but well: surf the couch (or bed if lucky) of random people for free.
A very good way to visit a place:
- Get a local experience sharing local people’s life for few nights
- Your host will show you some local places (or at least give you information so you can go yourself) that will give you a better idea of the local way of living. Big cities could be hard to get to know them in few days. You have many options, lots of tourist traps and it is sometimes hard to know what’s worth it or not staying in hostel (talking to other travellers that don’t know more than you do, reading guides that are often very mainstream, etc.)
- Get to live in a real place rather than a hotel/hostel, often nicer and more authentic. Even if you won’t get your private space (although it sometimes happens), you will feel more like at home, good for a change.
- Save money (if you only do it for that reason, you might reconsider it though)
If you plan to stay a bit longer in a place, talk more about rental and try to get costs for longer stay. Sometimes it can be cheaper to rent a local place for a month (even if you don’t stay the full month) rather than paying per night in a hostel/hotel type place.
Even for short term, rental is a good option if travelling with a group of people, so you can share the costs.
Air BnB: rent with locals! It doesn’t always mean cheaper prices but it sometimes is. I don’t know if it is because it is still new and some locals don’t really know the market prices but Air BnB is the best value for money in many places (Eg: Japan).
Tripping: comparing rates from different vacation homes and short-term rentals websites
You can always have good surprise so check there!
If you have a long distance to make and the journey doesn’t look too scenic, you might consider travelling overnight. All countries offer these night buses/trains and they are not too bad.
- Save money on accommodation
- Get the max out of your day at the place you are leaving, and arrive early the next morning, ready to enjoy a full day in the new place (rather than sleeping at the place you are leaving, spend a full day in transports and arrive just on time to check in somewhere and sleep)
How good can you sleep in night transport?
Well, everyone is different here and your standards might not be low enough so you have a full night sleeping like a baby. In terms of comfort, there is a bit of everything from the real sleeping space (lying down) to the reclining seat that doesn’t really recline more than a normal one. Ask other travellers, check how it looks and try. Don’t worry, human can get used to everything, it just takes longer for some people than others.
I like night train because it is not about reclining seat, you get to lay down. Moreover, it does shake around a bit but the move is more regular than in buses, easier to sleep in my opinion.
This can be done through organised plans or just by talking to a hostel/farm/etc. about working for them few hours a day to get a bed (and food) for free.
Here are few websites to find volunteer offers:
I like the idea of living for free and this will give you a great experience, different than the one you get travelling. However, this won’t be travelling, and I don’t think it is a solution if the plan if just about saving money.
- It won’t give you some extra money to keep travelling
- You will still spend some extra money (booze, extra activities, etc.)
- You stay in one single place for a long time
So yeah, if you have plenty of time, if you like the idea of getting to know one single place a bit more, build a deeper relationship with some people, go for it! Just don’t do it because of the money, this won’t satisfy you enough.
Cities: avoid hostel touristy area, nothing to do like a local (many cities have touristy centre with all the hostels, bars, restaurants, fun but nothing local at the end). Not saying you should avoid hostels but go to one in the real centre of the city, not in those tourists’ parks.
You can often find hotel rooms that are cheaper than a bed in a dorm. And even more if you have a travel buddy to share the costs with. You can save a lot of money sharing accommodation with someone in this part of the world.
The website Agoda is quite well used in Asia so check it if you need to search for accommodation.
Camping is not really a thing except wild one (of course). People should be fine with it but might be surprised as it is not too common there. Rarely an option people take (except maybe for wild camping in the middle of nowhere without other options) because hotel rooms are so cheap that people would rather take them than camping.
- South / Central America:
Camping a good option when going to national parks, etc. as there you would find less options and more expensive ones (eg: some parks in Patagonia don’t have many accommodation options within the parks but many beautiful and cheap options to camp inside the parks)
Hotels Vs Hostel is more like in Europe, hostel would always be cheaper so a bed in a dorm is often the cheapest option there.
Camping is a must do. Apart from few more developed countries (South Africa, Morocco), accommodation are often expensive and you don’t always have the choice. Some towns can have only one option and don’t be surprised if the rates are above European standards for lower quality.
So there is no way you can travel Africa on a budget if you don’t have a tent or a vehicle you can sleep in.
Otherwise, you can try to sleep in tribes’ villages, asking the chief if they would have a place for you to crash. This will be cheap but standards might be really low.