Travelers know one of their biggest concerns on a trip is good accommodation and affordability of same. Because of the escalated rates of most good hotels, cheap alternatives to hotels is always a welcome Plan B for travelers and holidaymakers.
Nobody really wants to be stranded on a journey. It literally saps out all the fun planned for the trip. It is that supposedly minor detail that could very well take out the sail in your fun-trip ship.
Thus, in this read, I will gladly show you how an impressive 17 alternatives to hostels in the US. With these, you can be sure to always have a plethora of back up plans for accommodation.
I simply ask that you deeply read through and note every destination on your travel-jotter.
Whats cheaper than a hotel?
Basically, hostels are. Though they may have gathered a bad reputation over time, especially because of the seeming ‘extravagance’ with which hotels lavish their customers, however, they are the more popular alternatives to hotels.
Other possible but sometimes not-so-popular alternatives include;
- Couchsurfing. This seems to escalate reputation over the past few years, and for good reason.
- House Sitting.
- Apartment or House Rentals.
- Religious Housing.
Where can I stay if you can’t afford a hotel?
You can check yourself into a Hostel. Globally, hostels are often always cheaper than hotels even.
Assuming you are able to start your search early in the day or early evening, staying at a hostel is a good cheap alternative to staying in a hotel as well. You can find hostels by looking online at sites like hostels.com or Hosteling International.
Cheap alternatives to hotels -2021 Updates
Here are some major alternatives to hotels. You can be sure to save money and have a nice trip seriatim;
In reality, hostels are one favourite hotel alternatives because they have a lot more style. Each of them is distinctive and has its own peculiarities and personality, which makes them much more unforgettable than a concrete monolith emblazoned with a corporate logo.
If you think all the hostels are cramped, smelly madhouses full of drunk backpackers, you’re in for a nice surprise. Nowadays they’re much more like exclusive luxury hotels (try to say five times faster).
The environment is generally much more comfortable and interactive, and the workers usually have a much more vested interest in your enjoyment, since they are majorly the owners themselves.
Although they are a lot nicer than they used to be, don’t expect your hostel to be as comfortable as a hotel. You’re likely to share a bathroom with other passengers, as well as sleep in a bed with a few other people (though many hostels offer private rooms at an additional cost).
We recommend searching Hostelworld to find hostels.
Couchsurfing has reasonably escalated in popularity over the last few years. It is just as authentic a “local” travel experience as you can get!
The idea behind Couchsurfing is that you stay free of charge in a nearby house or apartment. A stranger opens his home to another stranger, expecting nothing in return except to learn from each other!
Near weird right? This might seem totally crazy, but it’s a great experience for both persons. Some persons who have been “surfed” and/or hosted, commend the experience as fantastic.
Obviously, Couchsurfing has a strong element of confidence, both as a surfer (“I hope I’m not staying with a madman”) and as a host (“I hope I’m not hosting a madman”).
However the Couchsurfing website has continued to introduce more and more precautions each year to ensure that all parties are as secure as possible without having met in person.
You van visit the Couchsurfuing official site if you’re ready to set up your profile and find a place to stay.
3. Apartment or rental of a building
Renting an apartment or house is a superior option to living in a hotel for a variety of reasons:
It will save you money – you can typically find rentals much cheaper than hotels, particularly if you’re in a large group.
Better facilities – Apartment and house rentals normally provide amenities that might not be available to you in a hotel, such as a refrigerator or a washer and dryer.
Free Internet and Parking – Apartment and house rentals are not typically nickel and dime for stuff like internet and/or parking. If the place has wifi and parking, you will also be able to use it for free.
Local Tips – If you get a chance to meet the owner of the place, they will also have some great suggestions about what to see and do in the city.
Renting places while travelling has recently become much more popular. In almost every place I’ve been looking for from Louisville, Kentucky, to Munich, Germany, I’ve been able to find decent rentals for a fraction of the price I’d pay for a hotel.
To find a short-term house or apartment rental, consider starting with Airbnb. You will read reviews of the properties and owners, as well as images and details of the facilities.
Although the design isn’t as fancy as Airbnb’s, you should be able to find super cheap apartment rentals both in America and abroad through Craigslist. Only use your common sense and don’t get scammed, because Craigslist isn’t as controlled as Airbnb.
4. Religious homes
Across many parts of the world, religious organisations can sell travelers cheap (or even free) lodging.
This isn’t going to be for everyone, and you’ll probably appreciate it more if you’re a member of the religion in question. despite this, I also think it’s a unique experience and a perfect way to get guidance if you’re going to visit religious places.
The particulars of the accommodation differ depending on the organisation, but you can generally find a bed and a free breakfast. It’s a solemn, sober version of staying at a hostel in several respects.
If renting a whole house or apartment is out of your budget, try a homestay instead. In a homestay, a person will let you stay in a spare bedroom (or bed) of their house. Typically, this would be in return for a low nightly rate, while free homestays can also be found in exchange for volunteer work.
Bear in mind that your homestay accommodation is likely to be simple and of course, a cheap alternative to lodging in a hotel. What homestays do not have in their fancy facilities, however, they make up for in their cultural interactions.
If you’re learning a foreign language, for example, homestays offer a level of immersion that’s hard to get anywhere else. Plus, you’re going to get a degree of intimacy you’ve never been able to find in a hotel; you’re basically part of the family of the person when you are there.
Start with Homestay.com to find your homestays.
6. House sitting
House sitting is a perfect opportunity for people looking to linger free of charge in some beautiful homes and properties. Yeah, well, you read that right; for free! What a cheap alternative to hotels.
The best thing about sitting in a house is that it can be for short-term holidays of 1 week or even year-long sabbaticals. It all depends on what you want to do.
House sitting here is pretty straightforward. Many people who are going to be away from home for a long time want someone to take care of their place while they’re gone.
Often it’s because they have pets that they can’t carry with them sometimes it’s because they want someone to take care of their garden and yard, and sometimes it’s only because they want someone to take care of their house when they’re away for safety purposes.
Whatever the cause, people are going to give up their homes and properties to sit down. In return for the care of the animal(s), the work of the yard, or whatever the owners want the housewife will be able to stay at the property free of charge.
7. Rental of RV
Have you ever thought of renting an RV (Recreational Vehicle) instead of a hotel room? One of the cool things about living in an RV is that your accommodation is going wherever you want it to go.
Outdoorsy is a platform that operates like an RV rental Airbnb. The site matches the owners of RVs with those who want to rent RVs.
You pick the RV you want to rent, book it and take your hotel room wherever you want to take it.
Almost all holiday destinations in the local RV parks where you can rent a room and park for a while.
You can prepare to be stationary with your RV when you want to and travel with it when you’re ready to reach your next destination.
8. House of Friends
When you’re planning your a vacation or even business trip, it would make sense to take into account where you have friends or relatives for two major reasons.
Firstly, you get to see family and/or friends again and secondly, you save a whole deal of money staying with them.
9. Academia Accommodation
You’d be shocked to find out how many colleges and universities provide some sort of temporary/hotel-like accommodation. They’re super budget-friendly and may likely create that nostalgia of back-in-college days.
Some also have meals at the cafeteria, which is certainly an added bonus. Here are some of the locations that provide academic lodging:
10. Swapping House
Have you ever wanted to go to Italy, to Australia, or to London? If so, this is certainly the alternative of home swapping.
This is one of the best choices because it’s almost free and you get to experience your vacation spot as a local on a regular basis.
Here’s how it works:
- You list your home available for people to swap with.
- Then you search your desired location for someone that is willing to swap their home.
- Then check out the reviews and availability for that home.
- Reach out to that homeowner and offer to swap your home for theirs
It’s just as plain as that. This is a developing trend.
The websites immediately below will provide answers to key concerns you may have about home-swapping.
When you’ve got the gear, camping is one of the cheapest hotel alternatives out there. If you love the outdoors, and much or part of your trip is about hiking, backpacking, and appreciating the great outdoors, it may be worth serious consideration if you’re on a budget.
It’s definitely not for all of us. You need to be comfortable sleeping outdoors and coping with rudimentary (or non-existent) bathroom facilities. However, it affords you a cheaper alternative to lodging in a hotel.
But if you don’t mind “roughing it a little, camping can provide a unique travel experience. It’s a particularly good choice if you want to see remote areas of the country or spend your holiday in nature.
And if camping in a tent sounds too rustic for you, you might try renting an RV or a camper van as well. These choices provide you with more protection from the elements, as well as facilities such as a refrigerator, stove and bathroom (in some cases).
To find a place to camp on your next holiday, we suggest the following resources:
- Hipcamp – A venue for camping on private property in the United States. This is a perfect choice if you don’t want to think about competing with other campers.
- AllStays – a useful search engine for camping sites of all sizes ranging from National Parks to RV parks.
- RVshare – A platform that lets you rent an RV from a private owner (like the Airbnb of RVs).
12. Help Exchange and Woofing
The overall classification of Help Exchange is very clear in that, in exchange for helping others out, they give you something in return, usually room and board with the possibility of food and travel..
HelpX is an online directory of organic farms, non-organic farms, farmhouses, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers’ hostels and even sailing boats that allow volunteers to stay with them in the short term in exchange for food and accommodation.
Each opportunity on the HelpX should be transparent about what the helper wants and what the host will offer. Customarily, about 4 hours of work is exchanged for free lodging and a meal or two.
Opportunities are all over the board and can only be a homeowner looking for a little support in a more official sector or a farm that needs assistance.
It’s not just a lodging opportunity, it’s a chance to help out with a variety of jobs, learn practical skills and maybe do things that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise.
13. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – WWOOF
WWOOF is a global movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to cultivate cultural and educational interactions based on confidence and non-monetary exchanges, thereby helping to create a sustainable global community.
Similar to HelpX, WWOOF is an exchange of jobs for food and shelter but is exclusively for organic farms around the world. You can find yourself working with the soil, planting and harvesting, or making cheese and building fences.
Instead of signing up for a site that maintains a list of hosts around the world, travellers need to sign up for a site dedicated to the country/region in which they wish to exchange details.
Each site is normally subject to a subscription charge and you can find local sites via the main website.
14. Overnight Transportation
If you’re traveling a long way, consider killing two birds with one stone by taking a night bus or train. You’re going to save money on a night’s lodging and stop burning the whole day of your holiday from one place to another.
Low-cost bus operator Megabus, which services a lot of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, there are many long-distance routes that leave the departure city around midnight and roll into the arrival city as dawn breaks.
A night train can also be inexpensive, particularly if you choose a seat instead of a more expensive bunk bed or a private room. Many countries across the globe have an overnight bus or train lines, from the sleeper trains that travel from London to Scotland to the many that run the Indian subcontinent.
Do all you can to plan, and you can be shocked how much sleep you can get on a bus or a train. Do your homework ahead of time and take a quality eye mask, noise-absorbing headphones, snacks, plenty of entertainment, and maybe a mild sleeping aid like Melatonin or Tylenol PM.
Dress properly and make sure you have a light jacket or blanket if you’re concerned about getting cold. Even the least satisfying night’s sleep could be worth it to you when you count the savings and wake up in a new destination.
Volunteering is a perfect way to give back to a group and to have an engaging local experience. It is necessary to volunteer for the right reasons (i.e. because you support the cause, not just for “free accommodation”). However, you can benefit from your magnanimity too. It definitely provides you a cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel.
We advice that you consider planning your vacation to a location with organizations that allow you volunteer. They provide accommodation and feeding mostly.
Be careful when choosing a program, as some do more harm than good by creating a reliance on foreign aid than by offering skills (“teach a man to fish”).
Trustworthy organizations include:
16. Timeshares & holiday rentals
One may enjoy the experience of a timeshare or a holiday home without ownership by renting someone else’s vacancy. This is certainly a cheap alternative to hostel in whatever location you intend going to.
This can be a cost-effective route, particularly if you’re travelling as a group or to an expensive destination. The rental sites of Timeshare include:
17. Boat houses
If you’re visiting a destination that has rivers, canals or lakes or oceans, then you should consider testing whether there are options for a boat to stay for your visit. Boat houses are cheaper alternatives to hotels.
They are common in places like Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, France and more. If you have a boating license, you can charter a boat for your tour. Boat stay search engines include:
Visiting a destination that has rivers, canals or lakes or oceans? Consider testing whether there are options for a boat to stay for your visit. All may be on the tables, from a fancy yacht to a modest cruiser with a cabin.
Boat stays are common in places like Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, France and more. If you have a boating license, you can charter a boat for your tour. Boat stay search engines shall include:
- Beds on Board
- Boat Bound (boat rental – boating licence not required)
- Get My Boat (peer-to-peer boat rental)
- Boat Setter (peer-to-peer rental)
Finally, I can rightly believe that we have saved you several bucks with this information. It is our hope that you noted all cheap alternatives to hostels mentioned here and can feed them into your next planned trip.
Additionally, you can consider saving or investing all that money we have saved you by this post.