Traveling around the world can sometimes get expensive, so we decided to put together a list of the different types of accommodations you can find and their price ranges. Some of them are even free, which on a minimal budget can help tremendously. Most countries have cheap accommodations and low-cost accommodations to pick from.
Our goal is that after reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of all the options you have when on the road for your next trip. Another thing to be aware of is that price is all dependent on the cost of living of a country. So if you want to live the high life and get yourself a beautiful 5-star hotel, you can still pay relatively small amounts in cheaper countries for the same quality experience.
For me, it’s always about practicality, will I spend all that much time at my hotel? Do I want more privacy on this trip? There are important questions you should ask yourself to know what type of accommodation you want to pick — questions that don’t specifically relate to your budget.
We want to help you think about these questions before setting off on your next trip and also bust the myth that you need to be rich to travel the world.
Before I start, I usually ask myself the following questions:
- Will I have any valuables with me?
- Will I have lots of luggage?
- How many people are traveling with me?
- Do I want privacy on this trip?
- How comfortable do I want to be?
- What is my budget?
Let’s go through our list of cheap accommodations now and see what works best for you based on the questions above.
COST: $5-50 Per Night
Pros: Cheap and often centrally located, usually offers a full kitchen, usually has relatively good WiFi, and a common area to sit and work. Often has a free small breakfast included.
Cons: Can be very noisy and uncomfortable, security for your luggage isn’t great in most hostels and most people who attend love to party.
Backpacker hostels are great. I’ve spent hundreds of nights sleeping in them. For people who aren’t traveling with anything too valuable or too much luggage and that have small budgets, it’s perfect. If you have more than a backpack, it generally won’t fit inside the locker they provide you, you also need to make sure to bring a lock with you to lock the locker. However, if someone wanted to get inside your locker, it wouldn’t take much to do so. That’s why whenever I am traveling with valuables, I’m careful to read reviews on hostels before I book. On a more positive note, I especially love it when going alone because it gives you the opportunity to meet new like-minded people. You often get to go out and discover the city with these people; the fact that they are new makes it very exciting.
Get your work done
Hostels usually have a common area where you can sit to eat or relax; this gives you a place to work if you work on the go as we do. One of the downsides depending on how you see it is that the vast majority of the people who sleep in hostels are young, and most of them love to party. If you’re like me and don’t enjoy the party scene that much hostels might not be for you. Weekends are especially annoying, and if you prefer to have an early and full night of sleep, I’d recommend spending time elsewhere if your budget allows it.
One thing to keep in mind with hostels is that if you are travelling in a group, you can often find yourself an apartment on Airbnb or a hotel room for the same price or cheaper than everyone paying for their bed at the hostel. When I’m with others, I almost always get an apartment or hostel instead, especially when traveling in more expensive cities where hostels are very expensive. Regardless of everything, hostels are probably the number 1 on the cheap accommodations list, because if you’re traveling alone, they’ll almost always be the lowest priced place to stay after couchsurfing.
Budget hotels & Guesthouses
COST: $20-120 Per Night
Pros: Comfortable, private, secure, and often have a free small breakfast included.
Cons: Usually no kitchen and often not centrally located for the cheaper hotels
Site to use: Booking.com
If you want to have more privacy and/or have lots of work to get done, it might be a good idea to get a hotel for a few nights while travelling. The beds are often more comfortable in hotels than in hostels as well, which is one thing I enjoy. To keep my valuables as safe as possible in hotels, I usually keep the do not disturb on the door, so no one comes in to clean the room. If the room has a safe, I usually keep my valuables inside the safe when heading out the door.
COST: $20-60 Per Night
Pros: All the advantages included in having a home away from home.
Cons: Not always knowing what you’re getting before you live there.
It’s essential to read reviews before booking yourself a short-term apartment. Let’s say you want to live somewhere for two months if you book an apartment without really knowing what you’ll get for a full two months and you end up living in a rat-infested apartment or have terrible neighbours who knock on the door at 6 am every day. What will you do having paid upfront? There isn’t much to do. The best thing is to always book for a few weeks to a month at first to see how the place is or read all the reviews and make sure they don’t seem fake or fishy. Confirm that there aren’t any too bad reviews of the home and then book. Renting an apartment can be fantastic, but it can be just as terrible so make sure you have an idea of the place before booking.
Volunteer / Work Exchange
Pros: You have a roof over your head and (sometimes) free meals included.
Cons: You have to put in the work required, which means less time for yourself.
I haven’t done this myself, mainly because I prefer spending my time working on my business plans or sightseeing. It’s a great option though if you’re taking some time off and want to clear your head while having little to no costs on the road. I’ve met people who were doing this and have friends who’ve done this type of thing as well. They’ve all told me that it was a great experience.
Pros: You have a roof over your head and (sometimes) free meals included. You get to learn more about the culture of the person you live with and have someone to hang out with around the city.
Cons: Not much privacy other than the occasional time where they have a spare bedroom, but even then they won’t leave you alone in their house with a key (most of the time).
Site to use: CouchSurfing.com
I’ve done CouchSurfing around half a dozen times with only one bad experience out of all of them so I’d say there’s a lot more positive than negative on CouchSurfing. The places I’ve couchsurfed are Istanbul, Macedonia, Albania, Slovakia, and Italy.
I had the chance to spend a week with an awesome Muslim guy who was fasting during the Ramadan in Istanbul. He still took the time to show me around the city and when he got tired he would take naps in the various mosques around the city. Imagine him walking around in the blistering sun all day with me in the middle of the summer, that’s amazing. Every night we would break his fast in a different place in Istanbul with his friends. They were all extremely friendly and didn’t let me pay for a thing which was crazy.
My bad experience was in Italy, I had been looking for a host for a month, and nobody was responding to my requests. I received two invitations to host me. One was from a nudist who I declined when he asked me if I minded the fact he’d be naked all day and the other came from what seemed to be an average guy who (when I arrived at his home) ended up only talking about how CouchSurfing is made for people to offer a free place to sleep in exchange for sexual favours. At the time, I thought the guy was normal so I went to stay with him. After a while, he started to get weird and well I won’t get into what happened next, because nothing did, but I left and went on to my next destination with negative feelings towards that place.
The beauty of CouchSurfing is that most of the people using the service want to show the best side of their nation and that’s what you’ll find 99% of the time.
COST: Travel ticket
Pros: You save money by traveling at night, not requiring a place to sleep on top of your ticket price.
Cons: Difficult to sleep while traveling. You need to be mindful of your belongings while sleeping.
I have done this a few times, especially when traveling in more expensive countries like France or Spain. For example in Spain, I found a great bus company that had a higher end bus for $20 extra per ticket that included free eye-masks and blankets. The seat was made to sleep in, it almost felt like a “la-z-boy” recliner. It was one of the most comfortable bus rides I’ve ever been on, but unfortunately, I can’t sleep while traveling. However, it did save me $150 per night by traveling at night. If you’re tight on money or want to stretch your trip out to be longer, then this is a great way to do it.