From completely free stay options to home-sharing and discounted hotel accommodations, this list of websites will help you save on your accommodation when you travel the globe.
Accommodation is one of the most expensive purchases for travellers. And despite the fact that I love Booking.com’s ease of use and easy cancellation options, their hotels’ stays can cost you a pretty penny.
Just like you, I’m always looking for ways I can save on my stay, so I have more money to spend on sightseeing and activities in the places I’m visiting.
In this article, I’ve listed 5 ways to save on your accommodation – and even stay free – when you travel the globe.
Here they are, starting from completely free stay options to home-sharing and discounted hotel accommodations.
1. Homestays, Guest Houses & Apartments
Homestays are definitely cheaper than hotel accommodation and you can stay with a local host family in over 160 countries. If you love authenticity in travel, homestays can help you discover rustic, authentic and unspoiled gems.
You get to do what the locals do, eat where they eat and experience the realness of the place you’re visiting. You can also save money by staying in the best guest houses in your favourite locations. And if you’re looking for a home away from home, you can also choose the apartment that’s right for you.
Besides being cheaper than hotel rooms, you can also get assistance and advice from the owners of the guest house or apartments to help you find your way around. Many of them can advise you on where to buy things cheaper, how to travel and the best tourist attractions to visit.
2. Wanderful (Women-Only)
As a Chapter Organiser of Wanderful Pune, I just love this identity-verified home sharing community exclusively for women travellers looking for a safe place to rest their head.
Members can rent private rooms to one another for a fee, or just take each other out for a cup of coffee or provide a friendly face at the airport. Right now Wanderful is just in 20+ cities around the world, but are rapidly adding new members and chapters.
Each member (both the hostess and the guest) completes a two-step identity verification process and may opt for a background check for enhanced safety.
Wanderful is committed to trust and security and goes beyond home sharing to create a collaborative and inclusive community of women of all ages and backgrounds who help one another travel the world.
Wanderful Chapters connect locals and travellers together over brunches, workshops, day trips, and events like the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) and Wanderfest, to build positive connections and lasting friendships.
Signup on Wanderful here and join the women-only Facebook groups for India and Pune below.
BeWelcome is a hospitality exchange network. Most members of BeWelcome offer hospitality to travellers and/or can show them around. Every member of the network has a profile. Members can search for other members at their travel destination, check out their profiles and send them a message.
Joining and being a member of BeWelcome is free of charge but you must be over 18 years old. The open-source website is run by BeVolunteer, a non-profit organisation of volunteers who created BeWelcome to promote “friendship and better understanding across boundaries.” They are not-for-profit, open-source, and exclusively run by members in a transparent and democratic way.
BeWelcome is a great way to meet friendly and like-minded people from all over the world. This website is also a significant resource for travel information and provides many tools that can help you to plan your next trip or document a previous journey. Read their FAQs to learn more.
Airbnb really needs no introduction. As one of the pioneers of the sharing economy, it allowed homeowners to rent out their homes by the night, to travellers weary of paying for expensive hotel stays.
Not only do these options cost less for travellers and digital nomads who might want to spend an entire month in a certain location, but the website allows us to find and stay in homes that offer unique and exclusive experiences, ranging from a Seashell House in Casa Caracol to a Secluded Intown Treehouse in Atlanta.
5. Enjoy Housesitting with Pets? Check HouseCarers and TrustedHousesitters
If you love animals and enjoy spending your vacation taking care of someone else’s pets, house sitting may be the job for you.
Pets are far happier when staying at home than in a kennel and when they get someone like you to stay home and care for them, it’s a win-win situation.
You get to stay free in a new city or country, and the pet owners get to travel without having to pay for expensive pet boarding services. Of course, you must make sure their pets are well cared for or you won’t receive a good rating.
Here’s how to get started with House Carers:
- Register with House Carers.
- Subscribe to receive house-sit opportunities matching your desired locations and preferences.
- Get found in search results and get chosen to housesit.
House Carers will help you with tips and guides on how to land the house-sit and give yourself the best exposure on their website.
If you decide to use TrustedHousesitters, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Join as a sitter or owner for an annual membership fee.
- Members swap-free accommodation for free pet care.
- Sitters stay for free & owners travel without worry.
As a veteran house sitter, Ryan Biddulph notes in the article here, “House sits pulled us to places like Cyprus and Qatar; countries we’d never think to visit until sitting jobs popped up in these areas. Sitting is rent-free living contingent on caring for pets and keeping homes tidy. Easy peasy and the ultimate travel hack for me and my wife, for experiencing exotic spots.”
House Carers will help you with tips and guides on how to land the house-sit and give yourself the best exposure on their website. If you find the idea of house sitting interesting, consider buying Ryan’s book, How to Land the Best House Sits Easily.
Please note: We have not included Couchsurfing.com in these options because we do not feel it is a safe option for women travellers, especially in light of the incident here and the many controversies around its functioning.