This is a guest post from Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed.
When we go on vacation, we book a hotel. We are sort of taught thatâ€™s where you stay. By instinct we book a hotel. We go online, shake our head at the high price, and book it anyways, wishing there was a better way.
Well, there are a lot of better ways. The problem is that most arenâ€™t advertised because they donâ€™t have the marketing budgets that hotels have. On your next trip, consider these four alternatives:
Bed and breakfasts
Bed and breakfasts are a good alternative to hotels. Youâ€™ll get treated just as nice (if not better), you get breakfast, a smaller and more intimate setting, and the hosts who will take care of you.
B&Bâ€™s are usually owned by a family or couple and not some big corporation. The quality of service is usually a lot better and the prices a lot cheaper. Moreover, unlike hotels, they usually provide free internet.
You can find B&Bs on this website.
If you are with a family or a large group of people, renting an apartment is a much better choice than staying at a hotel. In NYC, the average price of a hotel is $250 dollars/night, but yyou can find apartments that sleep up to 5 for $200 dollars.
If you are with a big group, a hotel is not worth it. The rooms will be far too expensive. Rent an apartment. Or a beach house. Or a condo. Just skip the hotel. I highly recommend Home Away. They have the biggest inventory and best prices.
Couchsurfing is a website that connects travelers with locals who are willing to give them a place to stay for free. You can stay with families, couples, or single people. Many hosts allow families or couples to stay with them.
I stayed with a lovely family in Denmark, a student in Oxford, and a nice lady in Athens. Members are verified by other users, the company, or people who have stayed with them. Itâ€™s very safe. Alternatives to Couchsurfing are Hospitality Club and Global Freeloaders.
When people think of hostels, they think of dirty dorm rooms, bacteria infested showers, dirty kitchens, and smelly young people. But hostels have grown up a lot since the 60s.
Now, you can imagine them as mini-hotels. While you can still find dorm rooms, you can also find private rooms and double rooms. Moreover, most have free breakfast, free Internet, computer terminals, offer free tours, and have a kitchen.
While in NYC, I stayed in my own room with private bathroom, wi-fi, TV, and turn down service for $90 USD per night. All of which was right near Central Park. Thatâ€™s a lot cheaper than any hotel in the area.
For hostels, I like to use Hostelbookers since they have no booking fee.
Just say “no” to hotels
The bottom line is that accommodations donâ€™t have to cost a lot of money. I never stay in hotels. They’re simply too expensive. Instead, I use one of the options above.
These alternatives cut my accommodation budget in half or (sometimes) to zero. Thatâ€™s money that stays in my pocket and can be used to see the sights, buy dinner, buy beer, or pay for a plane ticket. I have much better things to do than give hotels my money, and I bet you do too.