Aside from the airfare, accommodation is the next component that eats up a lot of your budget when traveling. And because sleeping on the streets in most cities is considered illegal, and I reckon isn’t that comfortable, here are other alternatives on how you can travel without blowing your budget on lodging.
Couchsurfing is the world’s largest social travel network. Started in 2004, Couchsurfing has now evolved to much more than just a stranger offering their couch. It connects a global community of travelers (10 million people in more than 200,000 cities) who are like-minded and are willing to share their life, their world, and their journey, making travel a truly social experience.
How it works:
1. Sign up and create your profile
Tell people about yourself. Be open and honest! Remember, safety is of the utmost importance so you have to allow people to get to know you before you actually meet them. And don’t forget to include photos of yourself. It shows that you’re a real person.
2. Join local meet-ups
Check out your local “boards” and join any local meet-up. It will help you get a feel for and understand what Couchsurfing is about, and you’ll also be able to make new friends there. Making new CS friends is vital because testimonials left on your page can help others verify if you’re a good CSer or not. This will especially help you when you’re ready to surf someone else’s couch abroad.
3. Surf away
Ready to Couchsurf? Search for hosts in the city you’ll be visiting. Make sure to read their profile carefully and go through their references. Again, safety is of the utmost importance. Once you’ve decided on who you’d like to stay with, send them a Couchrequest with the dates of when you’d like to stay with them, and tell them why you feel they’d be a great host. Make sure to personalize it because the last thing a host would ever want to receive is a mass email. Remember, this is Couchsurfing, not a hotel booking.
4. Return the favor
List your couch and make it available to other travelers. Return the favor of good hospitality and show others how to have a good time in your city. Not ready to host just yet? Don’t worry! You can still offer to meet for coffee or drinks or simply give insider tips so others can experience “how to be a local”.
Why I recommend it:
Couchsurfing is not all about free lodging. It’s about making friends, sometimes even life-long friends, and seeing and doing things from a “local” point of view. After all, traveling is all about experiencing new things, is it not? So give it a try and if you do, don’t forget to bring your host a little gift from your home country, just to say thanks.
Hostels are budget-friendly, social accommodations that provide travelers with options of renting out a dorm-style bunk bed with shared bathrooms and kitchens, or private rooms usually good for 2 people. It usually caters to backpackers or travelers on a shoe-string budget, as the rates are cheaper than regular hotels.
Why I recommend it:
Hostels are great for solo travelers as it enables you to meet others through their dorm-style rooms, common areas, shared kitchen, and arranged parties and events. There’s never a dull moment when staying at hostels and while you may walk in knowing absolutely no one, you can be sure to walk out with friends from all over the world. Assuming of course you’re not a loner or anything. Other things to love about hostels are their good rates for food and even better rates for drinks, and pre-organized trips. You simply can’t go wrong with hostels so long as you stay friendly, keep an open mind, and do your research before booking that bunk.
Best hostel I’ve stayed at: Vietnam Backpackers’ Hostel #TeamInternational
Traveling as a group? Forget booking hotel rooms! Search through airbnb for a house/villa/apartment that’s 1. big enough to accommodate your whole group, and 2. is within your budget. Airbnb allows you to live like a “local” while still having privacy (no, you won’t be surfing someone else’s couch), and flexibility with your schedule (feeling hungry? cook yourself a scrumptious midnight snack). Just make sure to read through the fine print — do they provide daily cleaning? will someone come in every morning to prepare breakfast for you? is parking included?
Why I recommend it:
Because having your own house/villa/apartment in a different country is just super cool! Definitely a different experience. Need I say more?