Local Homestay range $10 – $50 a night. This is when a family rents out a spare bedroom for extra income and a chance to teach you about their lifestyle. A homestay usually includes breakfast and maybe dinner too. Homestay arrangements are typical with many language schools, but these days any traveler can book one.
Homestay Tips: If your host doesn’t speak your language, use sign language and draw pictures to communicate. It works surprisingly well. Check if your homestay includes meals, and how many. Be open-minded and willing to learn from your local hosts. Search Google for “homestay” plus the country’s name to pull up different homestay websites
In many cases, it’s free, and it’s also a great way to meet locals. You can organize a homestay through long-established hospitality networks like Servas International, or check out sites like Couchsurfing.
Volunteer / Work Exchange is between $0 – $30 a night. There are countless opportunities to volunteer your time, labor, or expertise in exchange for room & board all over the world. Some opportunities include farms (seasonal work), schools, child care, shelters, hostels, lodges, ranches, and even sailboats. It’s also very common for hostels to take on staff and let them stay for free.
Work exchanges can teach you a new skill, provide insight into a foreign culture, and benefit a good cause while you travel. Not to mention helping you save money at the same time.
Work Exchange Tips:
• Check on how many hours of work are required, and if meals are included
• Some organizations charge a small fee to cover costs associated with hosting you
• WWOOF, WorkAway, and HelpX are good sites to search for volunteer opportunities
Camping will cost you up to $10 a night if you really want to get close to nature. Most of the time it’s free, but camping in popular tourist locations you may have to pay a bit. It is a great choice for anyone seeking a digital detox.
With a car, van, tent or camping hammock, you can go absolutely anywhere and will always have a place to sleep, allowing you to experience remote areas that other travelers might avoid due to lack of accommodation. Some tips: Try to avoid camping on posted private property. Make sure you have a water source nearby. Keep food away from your shelter, preferably up in a tree. Respect the environment and leave no trace.
Camping can range from it being legal to camp anywhere in Scandinavia, the Baltics and many Eastern European countries. To places like New Zealand where there are some government-provided campgrounds free of charge.
Depending on where you’re traveling, there may be affordable lodging offered by religious organizations, such as convents and monasteries in Italy, or Christian or Jewish guesthouses in Jerusalem. An internet search or a visit to the local tourist board’s website can help you find these options. If you’re looking for a calm, quiet environment—perhaps even with a private bathroom, as Monastery Stays promises—religious housing may be for you. Many even welcome children with open arms and often have larger rooms set aside for families. Your room will be clean and functional, but not a room of luxury. If you’re a night owl who likes to go out into the early hours, chances are you’ll miss curfew and be locked out. Not all religious accommodations will accept unmarried couples.
Academic Housing is when students go home for the summer, many colleges and universities open their dorms to visitors. Expect very affordable but very basic accommodations (bathrooms may be down the hall, for example). There are few central databases of these type of lodgings—UniversityRooms is one to try—but it’s worth calling a few local campuses directly to see if anything might be available during your trip. Your destination’s tourist board may also be able to help. At times you can go through the Universities website by doing a quick search. Restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues often surround college campuses.
B&Bs with Shared Bathrooms can often save you money over hotel rooms, especially if you’re willing to use a bathroom down the hall. And it may be less inconvenient than you think: Sometimes the room you’re supposed to share a bathroom with might not even be booked—giving you the facilities all to yourself. The coziness and camaraderie of a B&B appeal to many travelers. You’ll save not only on accommodations but also on meals since breakfast is covered.