HOW TO TRAVEL MORE FOR LESS - PART 3: ACCOMMODATIONS
This is the third post in a series by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com. Michelle and her husband have found creative ways to exponentially increase the amount they can travel. In 2014, they took two big road trips, one of which was a full month long. Then, they spent five weeks in Europe, three weeks in Jamaica, and took two trips to Hawaii. In her first post of the series, Michelle explained how being digital nomads with a flexible schedule allows them to work as they travel and keep costs low. In the second post, she shared tools to find cheaper flights.
In this installment, Michelle shares tips for saving big on accommodations.
The next key ingredient to traveling more without over-spending is finding creative solutions for accommodations. When traveling almost full time, spending over $100 a night on hotel rooms is out of the question for us. We have a pretty wide network of family and friends across the world, so in most cases, we travel to places where we can stay with people we know.
In the rare cases we do need a hotel, we use Booking.com and set the filters for our price range with good reviews.
Our favorite places to book tend to be through AirBnB.com (bonus: use our referral link to get up to $40 off your first Airbnb stay). If you haven’t heard of AirBnB yet, it’s a large network of people renting out their unused spaces – full houses and apartments, extra bedrooms in their homes, even spare beds in their own bedrooms.
AirBnB room availability around the world is larger than any hotel chain out there. What’s more, you can get a full apartment with kitchen to cook for yourself that’s often cheaper than a standard hotel room. The host vetting and traveler reviews reduces your risk of a bad experience.
One of the cheapest ways we were able to extend our trip in France was by adding a two-week stint with a Help Exchange host. Sites like Help Exchange, Work Away, and WWOOF help travelers connect with hosts around the world. In exchange for a few hours of work per day, the host will typically provide free room and board (terms of the exchange vary by host).
With Help Exchange, a strong emphasis is put on cross-cultural exchange and helping travelers get an authentic experience of the place they’re visiting. WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) exclusively lists organic farm stays, but Help Exchange and Work Away include more diverse opportunities – from construction to nannying to working at a hostel. Some even take families.
For our Europe trip, we contacted a number of Help Exchange hosts and ended up scheduling two weeks working at a chateau bed and breakfast in the Loire Valley. We did things like gardening, weeding, painting, cleaning, and event set up. In return, we were put up in a simple apartment on the chateau grounds and all our meals were provided for – including a few four-course dinners in town with our host and his friends.
In our free time, we worked on our online businesses and took bike rides to the neighboring towns. It was an experience we could have never had on our own, and we didn’t spend a dime for the full 14 days we were there.
Another way to stay longer in a place is find free accommodations through house-sitting, or even house-swapping. This works best with your own personal network but there are also online networks to help you find a good match. We use House Carers to connect with people who need house or pet-sitting in the destinations we want to visit. If we had a house to swap, we’d also look into Home Exchange which connects home-owners so they can use each others houses during their travels.
We received so many questions about the various accommodation strategies we use to travel on a budget, I ended up writing a book about it. For more details on all of these tactics and more, check out Unconventional Budget Accommodations on Amazon.
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- Michelle Chang