Cheap Accommodation: The Best 90+ Resources For Your Travels
When it comes to planning a vacation or a trip, what eats the biggest chunk of your budget?
That’s right, the accommodation.
Finding the cheapest possible accommodation you’ll feel comfortable with is a huge task.
Fortunately, there are gazillion online resources to help you compare prices and book a cheap accommodation option during your travels.
Unfortunately, you don’t know where to start.
Luckily, you’re in the right place, because this massive list of 90+ trustworthy, reliable and authoritative resources will provide you with information and links for every possible kind of accommodation you might want or need!
So dig in and don’t forget to share it with your friends – I’m sure they’re looking for the perfect cheap accommodation as well.
Jump directly to:
- Free Accommodation: You Pay No Money, But Exchange Your Time, Skills And Comforts
- Cheap Accommodation: After All, You’re Renting It, You’re Not Buying The Place
- Start Planning Your Next Big Adventure And Go Book Your Cheap Accommodation Now!
Free Accommodation: You Pay No Money, But Exchange Your Time, Skills And Comforts
What’s even better than cheap accommodation?
That’s right – free accommodation!
The big advantage of the free accommodation options is, of course, that they’re free.
The big disadvantage, however, is that they come with a lot of limitations. Lack of privacy, possible lack of comfort and destinations choice, to name a few.
Still, if you’re ready to put up with the cons, the pros might be huge.
If that’s your kind of accommodation, the following resources are for you.
Staying with Friends and Relatives
This one might seem pretty obvious to you, but how often did you actually take a trip to visit an old friend from school or your cousin at the other end of the country?
Log in on Facebook, find your friends and relatives, start (re)connecting with them and eventually take the trip to their home.
If you haven’t lived under a rock in the past 10 years, then you must have heard about Couchsurfing already. Still, if you are unsure what it is and how exactly it works, check out this Couchsurfing 101 guide.
In a nutshell, it is the perfect option to make new friends in new places and explore with the help of a local. Read some of the experiences other travellers have had using this type of free accommodation before arranging to stay in a stranger’s house.
- Couchsurfing: the biggest and most popular couch surfing community.
- Hospitality Club: bringing travellers and locals together and providing a cultural exchange.
- Warm Showers: the basic idea is to provide touring cyclists with a place to crash.
- Global Freeloaders: make new friends whilst seeing the world from a local’s perspective.
- Be Lodged: works based on the principle of “visiting mutual friends”. Join, make some friends and go visit them.
You get to stay at my home, while I stay at yours. A pretty good deal, isn’t it? The sites themselves charge a small membership fee, but that’s also how you know the offers are real.
To learn more about home swapping, read this story.
- Home Exchange: with 65,000+ homes in over 150 countries it will be hard to choose.
- Love Home Swaps: Swap Points makes it easy for you to arrange trips – no need to match dates and locations with other members. You earn Swap Points when another member stays in your home and you don’t stay at theirs, then use them to travel when it suits you.
- Home Swap Holidays: this one even has a free membership. The number of listings is quite limited, though.
- Intervac: pet care might be involved in the deal.
- HomeBase Holidays: if you don’t find a swap, your membership for the 2nd year would be free.
- HomeLink: the leader in home exchange since 1953.
- Travel Home Exchange: that’s the cheapest membership site on the list. Not so many listings, though.
- Seniors Home Exchange: exclusively for the 50+ age group.
- Knok: a family travel network. Swap your home or rent an apartment.
- Home Around The World: targets gay travellers and their friends.
- Invented City: if you don’t find a swap, your membership for the 2nd year would be free.
- Matching Houses: holiday house exchange where people with disabilities swap houses with other people who have the same accessibility needs.
- Sabbatical Homes: academic destinations, homes for rent, exchange or sitting.
- Guest To Guest: works with GuestPoint system. No subscription fee, no transaction fee. 187 countries, 200 000+ homes.
House and Pet Sitting
Making sure the host’s property is safe and his pet(s) are fed and loved while he’s away. Almost free, as the memberships usually cost as little as a single night at a hotel.
Before doing anything else, read the most extensive series of guides on the topic of house sitting.
- Trusted Housesitters: stay for free in return for caring for pets and homes. 60,000+ pet loving members in 147 countries. A small membership fee is due for both parties.
- Mind My House: brings homeowners and house sitters together. Only sitters pay a small membership fee.
- House Carers: the site provides a confidential secure matching system. House sitters pay a small membership fee.
- Luxury House Sitting: for a small fee, you can stay in luxurious homes all around the world while taking care of the owner’s property and pets.
- Nomador: there’s a free limited option for house sitters and a paid option with more flexibility.
AKA work in exchange for free accommodation (and sometimes meals).
- WWOOF: work anywhere in the world on organic farms. Linking volunteers with organic farms and growers.
- HelpX: a listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farm stays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and free accommodation.
- Work Away: a resource for anyone interested in cultural exchange and learning, who’s ready to help out for a few hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. Make a difference to the communities you visit, while putting your existing skills to good use, or trying something new you‘d never normally get to do.
- Find A Crew: if living on a boat is your kind of adventure, this is your best resources.
- Farm Stays: work on a farm in exchange for free accommodation and meals. Different resources serve different destinations: Farm Stays International, Farm Stay UK, Farm Stay US, Farmstay Australia.
- Go Cambio: in exchange for a bed and a few home-cooked meals, all you have to do is spend a few hours of your time helping your host (or their kids) improve their skills, giving them lessons in e.g. English, cooking, guitar playing or even programming.
- Work-to-stay at hostels: show up at a hostel and ask if they need help in exchange for accommodation. Simple as that. Here’s how exactly it’s done.
Those free accommodation ideas aren’t for everyone. You need to be a little adventurous or even crazy to do some of these. But hey, that’s how the best travel memories are made!
Monastery stays: for an offbeat accommodation, stay at a monastery. Some stays are free or donation based, while others are as expensive as a hotel room, but offer a totally different experience. You’ll find everything you need to know about staying at a monastery in this Women on the Road’s article.
- Good Night And God Bless: a listing of monasteries’ contact information with short descriptions.
Tent camping: there are many countries in the world, where camping in a tent is free. For example, on the beaches of Mexico, in the mountains of Norway, in the steppes of Mongolia, or on the Great Wall of China just to name a few. The latter is not so legal, by the way. Of course, you have to consider the one-time cost of equipment.
Overnight transportation: not the most comfortable option, but you’ll save money and time, so it’s worth considering.
Sleeping in public places: again, not a very comfortable option, but it’s free. Some of the best places to do it for various reasons are airports.
Squatting: stay on property that’s owned by someone else without their permission. Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people worldwide are living as squatters! This includes shantytowns where families build shacks on land that they don’t own. However, in many countries squatting is illegal.
Cheap Accommodation: After All, You’re Renting It, You’re Not Buying The Place
If you don’t want to exchange your time, skills or comforts, but instead pay for your bed, below are a few resources to help you find the kind of accommodation to match your needs. In this section, you’ll find cheap accommodation options which will not break your bank.
Every country seems to have her own rules on camping, so make sure to check them, before heading on.
- camping.info: find details for 20,000+ campsites in Europe, as well as ratings and reviews.
- Reserve America: Campgrounds, marinas and more, as well as camping tips and guides.
- Euro Campings: find the location of your perfect vacation among almost 10,000 campsites, inspected every year.
- Camping Europe: the website of the European Federation of Campingsite Organisations and Holiday Park Associations (EFCO&HPA) is a collection of camping listings for most of the European countries.
- Glamping: warning: not cheap at all! But the listings on this site and the experience they offer are well worth the money.
Huts, Cabins, and Bungalows
Whether high in the mountains or directly on the beach, huts, cabins and bungalows are always a cheap accommodation option, covering your very basic needs. For the cheapest deals, you probably need to search at your travel destination and perhaps negotiate. Very few online booking resources are available.
- Mountain Huts: for hikers, trekkers, mountain bikers, climbers, mountaineers. Includes an interactive map and reviews of over 560 European mountain huts.
- Mountain-Huts.net: an interactive map of mountain huts in the Balkan countries.
From a single bed in a dorm with a shared bathroom to private rooms and even suites, hostels offer cheap accommodation for every budget as well as a unique atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else.
While there is a huge amount of online booking sites, the cheapest option remains booking directly with the hostel of your choice. And while the same booking sites offer a ton of reviews, the best recommendations usually come from fellow travellers or friends.
- Hostel World, Hostels.com, Hostel Bookers: all three websites belong to the same company. Still, with 33,000 properties (hostels, hotels, B&Bs) in 170 countries and over 8 million verified guest reviews, one of the biggest search databases.
- Hi Hostels: Hostelling International (HI) is the organisation set up in 1932 to coordinate Youth Hostel Associations around the world.
- Gomio: a hostel booking platform and social connection site developed for travellers by travellers.
- Hostels Club: a young and vibrant company dedicated to providing the budget traveller with a one-stop-shop for their travel accommodation needs.
- Hostelz.com: compares prices on all major hostels booking sites to give you the option to select the best available price. Make sure you compare the type of room and facilities and not only the price before booking.
B&Bs and Guest Houses
If you only need a roof over your head and a breakfast to start your day, this one is for you.
- Booking.com: the largest hotel booking website has dedicated B&B and guesthouses sections.
- Bed and Breakfast: the world’s number 1 online B&B directory.
Short Term Rentals
Do you want to live like a local? A short-term rental provides an authentic experience, which a hotel room or a hostel dorm will not give you.
- AirBnB: book homes from local hosts in 191+ countries and experience a place as if you lived there. You also get 20€ ($22) in travel credit through this link.
- Home Away, VRBO, Travel Mob: all three sites belong to the same company. With over 1 million live vacation rental listings in 190 countries, a huge database to search.
- Wimdu: Europe’s biggest portal for city apartments.
- Roomorama: book unique short-term and vacation rentals worldwide.
- Trip Advisor Rentals, Flip Key: both sites belong to Trip Advisor. Search for vacation rentals in 190 countries – cabins, condos, beach houses.
- 9Flats: a variety of affordable vacation rentals offered by individuals around the world. Choose from over 200 000 locations, including vacation apartments and rentals of all types.
- Home Stay In: invite international students and tourists in your home, meet people from around the world, share experiences and make some money.
- Tripping: searches other vacation rental sites, compare and save on vacation homes and short-term rentals in 150,000 destinations worldwide.
- Timeshares: some of the rentals you find on the above websites are actually holiday homes, owned by several people, who rent them out whenever they don’t use them themselves. If you’re looking for buying such a property yourself, make sure you check the timeshare value beforehand.
Search Engines for the Best Hotel Rates, aka Aggregators
Make sure to compare the rooms themselves, too, not just the prices. Some sites will only have more luxurious rooms and hence their prices will appear to be higher than the prices of a site where you can book the simplest available room at a hotel.
- Trivago: find your ideal hotel for the best available price at the world’s biggest hotel search website.
- Hotels Combined: compare all the top travel sites in one simple search to find what you’re after.
- Kayak – Hotels: search hundreds of travel sites and save 25% or more on the same hotel.
- Momondo – Hotels: best prices on millions of hotel rooms worldwide.
Hotel Booking Sites
Search directly on these sites or find a hotel elsewhere and book it hassle-free on one of the booking sites below. Don’t forget to check the prices on the hotel’s own website or even call and ask for a special rate. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll get a discount by just asking, making your cheap accommodation even cheaper.
- Hotels.com, Expedia: these sites belong to the same company, so don’t be surprised if the hotel you booked asks if you’ve used Expedia after you’ve made a booking through Hotels.com.
- Booking.com: hotel rooms, resorts, hostels, guesthouses – you can find and book everything here. You’re only charged 10% of the price online, the rest is due at your destination.
- HRS: very good deals on hotel rooms and special conditions for business travellers. Right, you’re going on vacation, I forgot. But on your next business trip, check the rates.
- Trip Advisor: along with tons of useful travellers’ reviews, you can directly book a hotel here.
- Agoda: features every possible kind of cheap accommodation, even in the unlikeliest of locations.
- Travelocity: if you find a better price, they promise to match it, refund you the difference and even give you a $50 off your next booking.
- Hot Wire: offers last minute deals.
- Priceline: you can name your own price.
- More Hotels For Less: cheap hotel rates that won’t max out your budget. They provide over 905,000 cheap hotels at 76,000+ destinations.
- Travel Zoo: search deals from thousands of recommended hotels.
Often you’ll get better prices if you book a flight and a hotel from the same site, or a vacation package from a travel agency than if you book every aspect of your vacation separately.
For example, the UK based Love Holidays offers a variety of destinations and cheap accommodation options.
Some people find this option better as it saves them not only money but the planning as well. For others, packages are just not flexible enough. But hey, everyone is different and so are his needs!
Start Planning Your Next Big Adventure And Go Book Your Cheap Accommodation Now!
You know better what’s best for you and now you also have the resources to find it.
Searching for cheap accommodation is a difficult task, but it shouldn’t be impossible. Decide on your preferred travel style, set your budget, search, compare and book – it’s that simple at the end.
And don’t forget to have fun and tell me all about it when you’re back!
Disclaimer: this post contains sponsored and affiliate links. The expressed opinions are, as always, my own and were not influenced by anyone.