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Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to travel on almost nothing: Accommodation

So, I've inspired you to take off to the wild blue yonder, eh? But you don't want to spend a lot of cash on the adventure. No problem. All you need to do is fly under the radar.

My highest expenses fall into three categories: accommodation, transportation & tours - & I'm constantly looking for ways to keep those costs down.

To save on accommodation, the best thing to do is get in touch with other travelers in the area that you want to visit. Couchsurfing & Hospitality Club are great places to start looking. TravBuddy is a similar sight, but it's better for finding activity partners than for finding a place to stay. In China, there's an online community called Tour Boarding that matches hosts to guests willing to teach English to their children in exchange for a few weeks' stay. Talk about your authentic experience!

Once you start digging around in these types of online communities, you may never pay for accommodation again.

If you must pay to stay, get a bed in a hostel instead of paying for a hotel room. Hostels are clean & safe, & they're used to travelers with questions about the local sights. Plus you will meet lots of interesting people. I always get a dorm bed. It can often be $20 less than a private room, & that $20 can be put to much better use.

You can search for hostels in the area on sites like, but never book through these online brokers. Find the actual website of the hostel & book with them directly. You'll save a couple of bucks & the hostel won't have to pay commission.

I recommend getting a YHA or HI membership. Though they are rarely the cheapest places to stay, your membership might get you discounts on tours or transportation, the other two big-ticket items I mentioned earlier.

If you're looking to stay in one place for longer than a couple of days, try housesitting. Mind My House is a good place to start, but there are several sites dedicated to local markets as well. If you don't mind digging in the dirt, try WWOOFing. Also, ask around. You may know someone who knows someone in the place you want to visit, & it's amazing how welcoming people can be.

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