For most trips, accommodation is the largest portion of the expense. So, it stands to reason that if you can lower the cost of your bed, then you can lower the overall cost of your trip. This will leave you with more money to spend on other experiences for your trip, or perhaps even let you travel for a longer period of time. After all, who doesn't want to save some money? And most travelers agree: finding cheaper accommodation is the most effective way to cut your travel budget.
Some travelers like to have a pampered and luxurious hotel experience, thus they are willing to pay extra for their hotel room (or perhaps a resort) to be part of their travel experience. On the other hand, many travelers say that the only thing they do in a hotel room is sleep, so they would rather just pay for the bare essentials and spend the rest of their money on the actual sights and attractions of the destination.
Either way, it's possible to find better prices to save a little cash.
Let's break it down. Multiple types of budget-friendly accommodation can be found in all parts of the world. Sure, not every type of accommodation is for everyone. You don't usually see many families at hostels because they usually need more space. Also, you don't often see solo travelers taking up entire apartments to themselves, either. But don't fret, something is out there for everyone.
Also, keep in mind that one of the biggest factors that affect the price of accommodation is the location. (More on that in a bit.)
And as always, check out our travel discounts page for sales and special deals.
If you're relatively young (or young at heart), traveling solo or as a couple, and don't have much to spend, then hostels should be at the top of your list. Not only are they generally cheaper than even the most budget-friendly hotels, but they tend to offer many extra perks as well. The social atmosphere is of course the main attraction. While some travelers get squeamish with the idea of sharing a room with others, many experienced hostel guests claim that this communal atmosphere is the best part. Make some new friends, learn about people from the rest of the world, have a party, and save some money while you're at it. Ignore Quintin Tarantino's movie; hostels are amazing, safe, clean, active, and comfortable.
Where to Book: HostelWorld
Read More: Why Hostels are Awesome
In many parts of the world, a family will own a very small hotel with just a few rooms where meals are also served. Often referred to as a "Bed and Breakfast" (B&B), they also have many other names such as Guest Houses, Pensions ("pen-si-own"), or Hostals (spelled with an "a"). Try to remove your local idea of a B&B from your mind when thinking about this, because for many parts of the world, this style of accommodation can vary greatly. They are not always as luxurious or expensive as you might believe, but can be very convenient and fun.
Bed and Breakfasts (B&B's) are usually a bit expensive in the U.S. depending on their level of luxury and location. However, outside of the U.S., it's actually quite possible to find many budget-friendly places that are small and family-run that cater to travelers of all types and ages. So, if you're a couple making your way through Europe or Asia, or even a small family, or a solo traveler, consider an affordable Pension, B&B, or Guest House so that you can have a personalized place to stay while saving money.
If you haven't heard of the idea of renting out a house or a condo on the internet, then where have you been? The "sharing economy" that has seen amazing growth in the last decade means that you as a traveler have more options at a variety of different price ranges. Companies like VRBO and Airbnb have made this type of accommodation even more popular in recent years, especially because having your own place usually means that you get more space, more privacy, and more amenities. In many cities, these apartments for rent can be expensive, but cheaper options can be found. For families, apartments and vacation rentals are often a great choice because you can get more space for the kids, plus a kitchen to cook your meals. Some also come with swimming pools and other added features.
Keep in mind that many of these rental apartments might be in someone's home, or rented out for only part of the year. Otherwise, they might be apartments built for residents and not vacationers, or vice-versa. The point is to know what you're getting before you book, so check out all of the reviews and photos beforehand.
We prefer VRBO instead of Airbnb. Why? VRBO is not only backed by Expedia, one of the biggest names in the travel industry, but it also has a commitment to helping small businesses. It's been around since 1995. On the other hand, Airbnb has sometimes put into place questionable business practices that don't support local property owners, as well as pulled out of business relationships with smaller travel companies leaving them in difficult financial situations.
While many chain hotel companies are synonymous with luxury and comfort, many others conjure up ideas of inexpensive roadside motels. Depending on the part of the world you're visiting, a budget-friendly hotel chain might be a great option that saves you money and provides just enough comforts for your trip.
In the United States, popular budget hotel chains include Super 8, Motel 6, Best Western, and many others. For a bit more money, staying at a Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, or one of many other chains is also an affordable option with a bit more luxury. For those on a road trip, hotels such as these are often a great way to save money. Location can greatly affect the price, so staying at a hotel along the side of the highway away from a city is the best way to get a good price.
In Europe, popular budget hotel chains include Best Western, CitizenM, Mercure, Holiday Inn, Ibis, Novotel, Qbic, Motel One, The Hox, Z Hotels, and others. As you can probably see, the budget hotel chains in the U.S. and Europe are quite different, so pay attention if you're headed across the pond.
Elsewhere in the world, Best Westerns are everywhere, but have mixed quality. Also look for Ibis, Red Planet, OYO Rooms, RedDoorz, and others across Asia, Africa, and South America.
Whether you want to stay at a budget chain hotel or a locally owned hotel, we suggest finding your hotel on Hotels.com, Booking.com, or even HostelWorld.com for budget places. These websites let you compare prices, locations, and amenities very easily.
To save some cash on accommodation, here are a few tips.
Location is very important. If you stay in the city-center, it's going to cost a lot more. Find the best balance between where you want to be and what you can afford. Look for a place on public transit if you need to get around.
The time of the week will often affect the price. Weekends are usually more expensive, as are holidays.
The extra amenities and benefits can make a big difference among budget-style hotels. Since you're not paying a higher price, they might not include extras such as a free breakfast, free parking, or other things that would be included at higher-end places. (Some hostels charge extra for sheets, blankets, and towels.)
And as always, check out the reviews, photos, and other listed information before making your booking.
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