13 Cheap Alternatives To Hotels (You Will Have NEVER Heard of Some of These)

Hotel accommodation is expensive!

Especially for travellers looking to save money or travel for longer

Fortunately, there are many affordable hotel alternatives that provide an authentic travel experience.

From house-sitting to hostels to house swapping!

Knowing where to look can keep your travel expenses low.

Discover the many alternatives to hotels that you may never have thought about below!

1. House Rentals

House rentals have become the most popular alternative to hotels.

Sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Homeaway allow travelers to stay in someone else’s house or apartment.

Travelers can choose between renting an entire house or a room with a shared or private bathroom.

One downside is that you may still have to pay the additional cost of cleaning fees, booking fees and hotel taxes for the city they’re staying in.

Tourists need to obey house rules, so bringing guests or playing loud music might not be allowed.

2. House Sitting

 Being a house sitter allows travelers to stay in someone’s home for free in exchange for taking care of the owner’s house and/or pets.

Most house sittings are tasked with basic responsibilities like cleaning, pet care, and plant care.

However, they get to stay in a private property with amenities and no cost involved!

Travelers benefit by receiving home amenities such as a full kitchen, laundry, and WiFi access and is an awesome alternative to renting. House sitting also offers a more authentic experience since travelers live like locals.

There are many house sitting websites to choose from, like Trusted House Sitter and House Carers.

Once a sitter gets acclimated to the site, they can enjoy plenty of opportunities to house sit around the world while receiving a free place to stay!

The view from our house sit in Greece

3. Hostels

If you think hostels are overcrowded, smelly madhouses filled with crazy backpackers, think again!

These days hostels range from 12-bunk dorm-style accommodations to a private room with an en-suite bathroom.

Hostel visitors often meet other travelers who can provide recommendations or travel tips.

They may even invite you to come along with them on their adventures.
Many travelers have reported amazing experiences at hostels just because of the people they’ve met.

4. Academic Housing

Remember the good ol’ college days? Some universities offer college dorm rooms for rent during the summer or holidays.

Visiting sites like UniversityRooms.com can help you find potential academic housing.

Keep in mind the accommodation will be bare bones and may require visitors to use shared facility bathrooms.

5. Religious Housing

Temples, monasteries, synagogues, and convents are all places that offer affordable religious housing.

The catch is that visitors must be affiliated with the religion and must be respectful to the establishment.

Often travelers won’t be able to bring alcohol on site.

6. Boathouses

Ever consider a boathouse as a lodging opportunity?

Tourists visiting a destination near rivers, canals, or lakes may want to consider a boathouse.

Many places like France, Australia, and the Netherlands offer these boathouses.

People who have a boating license can outright rent them and take them for a spin.

7. Couchsurfing

Most people either love or hate Couchsurfing.

The idea is that travelers get to stay at a local’s house or apartment for free. It’s the cheapest option there is since there’s no cost involved.

A stranger simply lets another stranger stay in their home, asking for nothing in return.

Many Couchsurfing users typically want to learn more about each other’s culture.

8. Volunteering

Some non-profit organizations offer room accommodation in exchange for volunteer work.

Some well-known organizations include Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Volunteering is an affordable alternative to receiving accommodation while supporting an important cause.

9. House Swap

House swapping is a cheaper alternative for budget travelers compared to hotels. It’s a great way to enjoy the comfort of living in a home and enjoying the experiences of a local.

Sign up to a home exchange network, and you’ll pay an annual fee similar in cost to a night’s stay in a hotel room.

For those who travel multiple times per year, it’s an affordable lodging option that lets travelers enjoy all of the convenience of a home.

The homes typically offer a full kitchen, laundry, WiFi, a TV and are typically located away from tourist traps.

10. Overnight Transportation

Save on a night’s worth of stay by taking an overnight train or bus.

Most countries like the Indian subcontinent or European countries offer overnight transportation routes.

Choosing the seat instead of the more expensive private room or bunk bed can help save additional costs.

12. Campervan, RV, or Camp

Travelers who love the outdoors should consider camping outside or in an RV. Many state and national parks offer visitors a private campground to stay in.

Just make sure the packing lists contain plenty of survival kit items like flashlights and other camping gear.

Staying in RVs is an excellent way to cover the cost of travel and accommodation, making it one of the cheapest hotel alternatives.

Many wanderlust adventurers can visit multiple countries or states within a short period. Nowadays, modern RVs offer essential amenities such as electricity, water tanks, and even heat.

13. Work Abroad on Cruiseships and Farms 

For travelers who want to increase the level of immersion, there’s no better way than to work for lodging at farms of cruise ships.

Some worldwide organizations match visitors with breweries, garden centers, and organic farms. Their goal is to find workers while promoting authentic cultural and educational experiences.

The most popular option to find these opportunities is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Other than the annual membership fee, these programs offer non-monetary exchanges.

Visitors willing to get their hands dirty can work in unique places like yachts and cruise ships.

These ships stop at multiple cities, letting travelers sightsee and experience different cultures.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of affordable accommodations that provide awesome experiences.

Many tourists who’ve tried these lodging alternatives have found them to be some of the most memorable times in their lives.

Author: Brittnay

Brittnay is one of the Travelling House Sitters. She has cared for 25 dogs, 35 cats 1 turtle, and 1 rabbit over 40+ houses in 15 countries over 5 years.

She is ready to teach you exactly how to become a house sitter! She wants everyone to enjoy this incredible lifestyle as well!

You can read more about Brittnay and Jay on their about page.

Or connect with Brittnay on Facebook or in their house sitting community on Facebook

House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence
Brittnay House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence

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