8 Great budget travel accommodation options
What backpacker accommodation options are there?
Budget travel Accommodation for backpackers can hemorrhage our already delicate budgets if we’re not careful
Budget travel accommodation costs can be like that deep cut which just doesn’t stop bleeding; it can be draining and it can hurt at times. However the good news is, with the popularity of backpacking ever growing, more affordable options are available to us now, more than ever.
While you do have to search around a little for the best value, there are plenty of options for budget travel accommodation. In this post we will cover those options for you, where to look for them and which options may suit you best.
If you’re planning your first trip, or having trouble with keeping accommodation costs down on your backpacking trip, in this post we will dive into what budget travel accommodation options are available to us.
The right type of budget travel accommodation
Finding the right type of budget travel accommodation for backpackers is just another plate we have to spin to help keep our budgets in check. We know, we have to cut corners sometimes, compromise on certain things, and sometimes have to sacrifice some comfort in order to continue our journey.
While other types of travelers may be able to stay in comfy 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts, we know or at least should know we can’t just waste money on hotels and resorts every night. That’s not to say, there are certain countries we can afford to indulge and sometimes we do need a night of comfort in a hotel.
I’ll be honest, and I know plenty of other long term budget backpackers who do the same; sometimes we just need some real comfort in our traveling lives and go hide away in a hotel for a night or two. Yes sometimes we can’t afford it, but for our sanity we need to.
Budget travel accommodation options
So what are our backpacker accommodation options? Well, like I mentioned above, with the increase in popularity of backpacking, there are 7 common budget travel accommodation options readily available to us. And 1 other option if you’re really struggling or want to take it to the extreme.
- House sitting
- Home stays/volunteering
- Take it to the extreme
Budget travel accommodation options: Backpacker Hostels.
Hostels are still amongst one of the most popular budget travel accommodation options. They remain the most popular for what hostels are beyond a place just to sleep for backpackers. They mostly provide a social environment to meet and make friends with fellow backpackers. They can give you a sense of home, you can make a nest or base for yourself in them. They can provide information you need and they can form an integral part of your backpacking journey.
Since I started backpacking in 2010, hostels have been my main budget travel accommodation preference, and this dedicated section to hostels provides you a much more in depth insight into all you need to know of them. This section shows you what it could be like for your first experience, makes you aware of the hostel trap, shows you the different types of backpacker hostels to suit your needs and much more.
(Book your hostel through hostel world, simply click the banner below)
Or you can check hostels/ guesthouses/ shared accommodation with Booking.com
Air BNB is growing in popularity for budget travel accommodation
If hostels are not quite your thing, don’t really want crowds or you just want to get away and be on your own for a while, or if you’re planning to stay in a location for a long period of time then AirBnB is a great option. There are plenty of affordable budget travel accommodation options for you, some in incredible locations and settings, and you can still have that sense of being in a homey environment.
In renting an AirBnb, you’re more than likely to be around locals a lot more, you will feel less of a tourist, and sometimes will feel part of the local community, and gives you another perspective on local life.
If you get a good host with multiple properties there is even a chance of an upgrade. I rented a AirBnb for a month when I returned to Portugal to start writing my travel memoir. I had originally booked just a room but the owner saw I was staying for a month and upgraded me to a whole apartment for the same price as just the room would have cost.
Depending on the options you choose, there will be instances you have the place to yourself, you might just be renting a room while the homeowner lives there too, or it could be a houseshare.
While a good option some due diligence needs to be done on your host as there have been cases of travelers getting scammed, hosts blaming travelers for breakdowns, or even just not being there to hand keys over.
Check here if you would like to know more about Airbnb
Couch Surfing is a great budget travel accommodation option because It’s free
In years gone by, couch surfing was exactly what it says on the tin; sleeping on somebody’s couch, often for free. It could have been a friend of yours, somebody you traveled with previously, or just a stranger giving you their couch.
However, nowadays, couch surfing has grown much broader and bigger. You’ll now find an official Couchsurfing website which boasts over 14 million members. You can sign up to be a host or a surfer or just to join the community where they organise meetups and events for backpackers.
Couchsurfing does however sometimes come with a bad rep, although hosts do have to be verified, there have been known to be some unsavoury incidents. This isn’t to put you off but just for you to be a little diligent when choosing a host.
The downside to couchsurfing is because backpacking is so popular now, hosts can be very picky with who they choose to communicate with, and It’s becoming harder to get a confirmed spot. And there have been many cases of hosts cancelling at the last minute, leaving the guests in the lurch.
Couchsurfing is popular due to obvious fact that it can be free (A budget travelers favorite word) you stay in a local environment and be part of the culture. Also when you’re in and amongst locals, your host normally shows you around, you get to meet other locals and get the local perspective of your destination.
Get more information on Couchsurfing here.
Another option that is growing in popularity as budget travel accommodation with backpackers and budget travelers is housesitting. So what’s the deal with House sitting?
Well, the concept is quite simple, home owners who want to go away on holiday or away from their homes for a prolonged amount of time and don’t want to leave their house empty will advertise for house sitters. If chosen you go and house sit, you get your own privacy and can use all amenities. In most cases, you house sit for free but in exchange, you have to maintain and upkeep the house, do some general chores or look after pets the owners have left behind. Obviously, there is an element of trust here and hosts and tenants are vetted before being accepted.
Here are a few different websites you can sign up to for house sitting services.
Note: some of these sites require you to pay an upfront fee to join their services.
Homestays/ Volunteering have always been a favourite budget travel accommodation option
Homestays are a form of house sharing with locals in your desired location. They can work on two different levels. One by joining up to the official homestay website where you can search for hosts and see what they are offering.
Or the second way, is by meeting and getting to know a local, or a local family who will offer a room without going through any official channel.
Typically they will rent a room out to you, but you will be in and around the homeowner or entire family. Sometimes they will offer work in exchange for the room instead of paying rent. They can be another great way to see life from a local perspective, learn the language, get an idea of what life is really like for the locals. Your looking from the inside out, and a lot of the times you get to see what locals really think of travelers and tourists.
For the official way, just pop over to the homestay website,where you can sign up, and look for hosts in your desired location.
Another very popular budget travel accommodation option for backpackers is volunteering. By volunteering you actually work in exchange for your accommodation and sometimes food too. So if you find yourself getting very strapped for cash and feel you want to give back to the community you’re in, this is a great budget travel accommodation option for you.
There are plenty of programs you can join all over the world, one of the most popular is Wwoofing. With Wwoofing you most typically work on organic farms, and in rural areas, help On Woofing projects there is more of a communal feel to it.
If you want to find out more about volunteering programs, just run a quick google search, or hop over to the Wwoof website for more info.
The Campervan gives the most budget travel accommodation freedom
Who doesn’t like a good road trip? Well, why not take it to the next level and get that feeling of ultimate freedom?
Renting a campervan is such a popular choice of backpacker accommodation because you can combine your transport and accommodation costs into one. Not only that but having your own campervan gives you control and freedom over your journey and at your own pace. You go wherever you want instead of a predetermined route like you would on public transport or organized tours.
There are other advantages too, some campervans come equipped with a small burner to cook on, so you can save on food costs. You can travel by yourself giving you privacy, with a partner or a group, some hostels allow campervans to park up and let you use their amenities and resources.
While there are many advantages there are disadvantages. You may have a breakdown and have to delve into an already tight budget. You might get lonely if you’re traveling solo, you might not be used to local roads and rules. If you’re traveling through winter it gets cold in vans or fuel costs may be just too high. Or like in my experience you start and lose a war – A war with bugs, most commonly with mosquitoes!
A lot of countries around the world provide a healthy choice of renting vehicles from cars, campervans to huge RV’s; and for short or long term rental, it depends on your budget. a simple google search will provide you with your best options. There are also some options where you can buy a vehicle for cheap at the beginning of your trip then sell it on to other backpackers once your trip is over.
Strip it all away, become one with nature and pitch up a tent or sleep in a hammock under the stars, in the jungle, on a beach or in a campsite! If you like camping or want to get in touch with nature or really want to eliminate your accommodation costs then this is your choice.
Over the years I’ve met other budget travelers who will only camp and managed to save so much on accommodation costs. The good thing about camping is, with the traveling industry growing there are more designated camping areas available and some in absolute picturesque locations.
However obviously if you are looking to camp out there are certain things you should take into account. Like: Having good camping gear in the first place, be aware of any safety issues, keep bug spray on you, be aware where you’re pitching up for the night, is it legal? Is there any wildlife territory you might be intruding on?
Short term budget travel accommodation options
These last ones, they’re just some options when you need a place to sleep for a night or two, or if you’re moving on or in transit and don’t want to pay a nights rent somewhere.
Sleeper trains/ overnight buses
At one point during your journey, you’ll be wanting to move onto another destination which is isn’t a hop and a skip away. It will be a long distance journey. Instead of wasting a full day of traveling to this destination most places around the world have night buses or sleeper trains for this.
The logical thing to do is take the night transport because In theory the night transport are specific for night journeys. They typically come equipped with, makeshift bunk beds, flatbeds, pods, or fully reclining seats. They also provide you the opportunity to skip out on a nights rent; two birds one stone.
Like I said, all great in theory. The practicality is, you won’t get much sleep on them. They can be bumpy, arduous and sometimes backbreaking. You might save on a nights rent but it could lead to wasting a day, because you’ll want to get some actual sleep.
However with this knowledge in hand, we still take overnight buses, we sacrifice that night’s sleep to save a nights rent.
Budget travel accommodation option taken to the extreme: Roughing it up
To save on that one or two nights rent when in transit or moving on there are other options too. Now I don’t recommend these but if you’re flat out broke and have no other choices you can sleep in train stations, airports, other public areas and slum it for the night. I highly encourage you not to do any of these unless It’s for a reason like your flight being cancelled, or having to catch an early train/bus/flight and you arrive a little too early.
Plenty of budget travel accommodation options for you
There are other budget travel accommodation options that will be available to you like private renting and house shares, but the aforementioned will be the most common that you will most likely choose from. Of course, there will be times you might just want to slip away to a hotel for some comfort too, plenty of us budget travelers have done it before you.
If you find yourself in a situation where the money is starting to run out during your trip, just remember you can always stop, replenish your funds before you move on. And while you’re replenishing your funds drop down to a cheaper option of budget travel accommodation, and also keep an eye out on notice boards in cafes, hostels, lampposts and such. You might find somebody just needing a house/roommate for a short period of time.
As you can see there are plenty of options for you to choose from, I hope this budget travel accommodation post will ease any fears you may have about finding the right accommodation for you.
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