Cheap Places to Stay are really not that hard to find. There are even multiple locations where you can stay for free. These, of course, are for the more adventurous travelers who have no trouble staying places with less than 5 stars.
Budget Backpacker Hostels
COST: $5 – $30 per night
If you are on a budget, looking for cheap places to stay, then good clean hostels are the choice for you. Why sit in a hotel room alone when you can meet and share adventures with like-minded travelers like yourself. The rooms and bathrooms are shared which lets the owners give you great prices. Rooms can be from 4 to as many as 20 people per room. We stay in the mixed dorms for 4 to 8 people. They usually have bunk beds and if you do not want to get stuck climbing to the top bunk like us then request lower bunks when you book. Always make sure they have secure lockers when you are booking.
We love to share our travel stories and be around younger travelers and interact with these groups. It helps us feel young and we both pickup and share valuable information. You can get private rooms and those will cost about the same as a budget guesthouse. Since there are two of us, many times the private room is about the same price of two bunks.
Budget Backpacker Hostel Tips:
- Make sure they have secure lockers
- Get earplugs and EyeMask for better sleep
- Booking.com – HostelWorld To Find Great Deals
Local Guest Houses
COST: $10 – $80 per night
The guest house options give you the same type of accommodation as a private room in a hostel but without the ability to network with other travelers. They are cheap places to stay, definitely cheaper than a luxury hotel. However, we prefer a hostel private room over this type of room. You pretty much have to compare the hostels and guest houses in a location to get the best deal for you. Some guesthouses do provide kitchen privileges and that can save you money on your food budget.
Guest House Tips:
- Go in person and check the room first
- Make sure windows and doors are secure
- Booking.com is your best research option
- Read reviews and jook for good ones written by citizens of your Home Country
Choosing between a guest house or a hostel comes down to the budget. For the same price, I would choose a hostel every time if the location is comparable.
Short-Term Vacation Rentals
COST: $10 – $80 Per Night
If someone has a spare room in their house or a whole apartment they are not using, they may rent it to travelers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
These Airbnb vacation apartments are some of the best cheap places to stay in. (NOTE: use our link and receive a discount) They usually come fully furnished and include a kitchen — all for the price of a budget hotel.
One of the big benefits of staying in an apartment is how it can feel like a home-away-from-home. Interaction with neighbors helps you appreciate what it’s like to live in the country, if only for a short time.
Short-Term Vacation Rentals Tips:
- Only Use properties with Good Reviews
- Research location and transportation costs around the apartment
- For 1 Month stays they give you substantial discounts
- Researching Offseason stays, email the owner and you can get even bigger discounts
- For Example, our next apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia is only $417 a month. This is a fully furnished apartment with WiFi and utilities included.
Read Our Guide on AirBnB Deals and How to Find Them
COST: $2 – $20 per night
I frequently use homestays and many are provided as part of trekking adventures. You will have the chance to interact and meet more locals. You get to experience the living conditions and culture of the hosts. Most provide local dishes and you get a taste of the real food from a region.
They will take you around their village and it's a great way to get good candid photographs as well. So for me. when I get this option I always take advantage of them since we travel to experience other cultures. This is a perfect way.
They are usually available on trekking adventures and AirBnB has many to choose from as well. I would not opt for them in a large city but in small local towns. You will get the same advantage as a traditional homestay besides having found cheap places to stay.
- Language is a barrier but one you can easily overcome
- See If meals are included
- Spend as much time as possible with hosts and their friends
Volunteer / Work Exchange
COST: Free – $30 per night
Rather than pay for your accommodation, why not work for it? There are countless opportunities to volunteer your time, labor, or expertise in exchange for room & board all over the world. Some examples include farms, schools, shelters, hostels, lodges, ranches, and even sailboats.
Work exchanges can teach you a new skill, provide insight into a foreign culture, and benefit a good cause while you travel. Not to mention helping you save money at the same time. Scoring free room and board and cheap places to stay are worth a few sore muscles.
Work Exchange Tips:
- Get a clear explanation of the Work Requirements
- WWOOF, HelpX, and WorkAway are good search options
- Check if Meals are provided
COST: Free – $20 per night
Getting back to nature, seeing more of the countryside and camping the wilderness are all good reasons to “Wild Camp”. Most of the time there is no charge and many people will be glad to let you stay for the night as long as you “Leave No Footprints” when you leave the next day. This type of responsibility can make it much easier or impossible for the next person who asks.
With a small tent and sleeping bag or just a hammock in the warmer climates, you can actually sleep for free every night. You will see and experience many places and things that are not accessible to everyday travelers.
- Avoid private property unless you can ask first
- Offer the owner a small fee
- Look for a clean water supply
- Don't keep food in your tent
- Leave No Trace
I love to camp and have been doing this for more than 50 years now. This is a true way to be an adventure traveler and see the most beautiful and less frequented sites. Many times you will have a whole area to yourself. One of my favorite ways to explore cheap places to stay.
Many people prefer to have a person watching their home and taking care of pets when they are away. This gives you a perfect way to stay and travel for free and a good way to meet other locals. There are a number of sites that make that option available to you such as ‘TrustedHouseSitters‘. They will screen you and make sure the local person can trust their home and pets to your care. You will have little chance to get a gig like this without going through them or a similar website. Besides locking in cheap places to stay, sometimes the hosts will give you a small stipend.
House Sitting Tips:
- Register with as many house sitting sites as possible
- Get a list of expected activities from the owner and keep a log of when they were done
There are a number of sites but CouchSurfing.org is by far the largest. They have well over 5 Million hosts worldwide. These people are happy to have you come and visit them for a few nights. No, you will usually not be sleeping on the couch. They will have an extra bedroom for you. They do not ask for money but might ask for something small, a gift like a CD of your favorite music, etc.
They are people persons. They like to meet interesting people from other countries and enjoy sharing information about their country and culture with others this way. You will both leave a reference on the site about your stay The more references you have, the more people will open their home to you.
- The better your profile, the more requests will get answered
- Send Personal requests to each person
- Chat and spend time with the Hosts
This is only an option if you still have a home in your country. We do not but we do read about others who are able to make this work really well. They swap homes with other people and each cares for the others' home. This tends to work well in a big country like the U.S.
The only cost is to get your application and home vetted. Most of the larger sites charge around $100 to $150 a year.
Home Exchange Accommodation Tips:
• HomeExchange.com or HomeForExchange.com are Great Sites for you to Register
Churches / Monasteries / Temples
COST: Free – $50 per night
Many times certain religious groups make this available to their practitioners. It can be any type of religion from Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or others. You may stay at the Mosque, Church or Temple. Many of these, especially temples, have living quarters for the monks and you are staying in one of these. They tend to be very spartan but it is a rewarding and fun cultural experience.
If you belong to a particular religious group, and even if you don’t, many different religious centers offer free or cheap places to stay in temporary housing. It could be at a Catholic Church, an Islamic Mosque, Jewish Synagogue, Buddhist Monastery, or a Sikh Temple.
Religious Accommodation Tips:
• Try to only stay one night unless it is paid
COST: Ticket Price
We have spent many nights on Sleeper Busses in India, Vietnam, and Thailand as well as trains in Europe.
The busses in Vietnam have seats where you are resting pretty much like a baby in a crib and are quite comfortable. We have also spent many nights on long-haul flights.
You still get where you are going and get to avoid the costs of a bed somewhere so it is not a bad trade-off.
This is not the most comfortable way to go but it is a way to help you save some bucks. They are cheap places to stay or sleep because you already purchased your ticket to travel.
Overnight Transportation Tips:
- Choose a lower seat on busses
- Get earplugs and eyemask for better sleep
- Watch valuable items
Sleeping In Public Places
I would not sleep on a park bench to save money, but I have spent many nights in airports. Some can actually be very comfortable like the airport in Oman. They have small tents in the concourses with large pillows inside. Like a tent in the desert more or less. Another great airport is the one in Singapore with many comfortable spots to sleep.
Using transportation terminals as your cheap places to stay, you pretty much have everything you need like food, bathrooms, and wifi. Transportation terminals are usually open all night. If you’re lucky, you might even get free WiFi. In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to sleeping in airports.
Sleeping in Public Tips:
- Find a spot away from traffic
- Watch your valuables
- Get a spot early
- Find an area away from heavy foot traffic
- Get earplugs and eyemask for better sleep
Squatting is simply finding an unused building or piece of property and using it for your own purposes until someone asks you to stop. The problem is it is almost always illegal and not something I would prefer. Jail in foreign countries is no laughing matter.
Surprisingly 15% of the people in the world live this way.
There is even a whole website devoted to this called SquatthePlanet.com if you want more information.
The bottom line is you can travel and see the world and you can do it on a budget. When we left home we had a small savings account and $1800 a month retirement from the government. We managed to eat, rent Airbnb apartments and buy all of our travel tickets for that amount of money.
Why did we make the choice and have we been happy with it? First, we wanted to see the world, we were overweight couch potatoes and did not want to spend our golden years playing golf and watching TV. We wanted to take life and wring every moment we could out of what we had left and we are still doing it. So YES we love the life we lead but it is hard and demanding on anyone and especially people nearing their 70s. Do we plan to stop? NO, we do not. As long as we remain in good health we will spend our life on the road seeing things, meeting people and enjoying all the world has to offer.
Our Goal? To make you see that you can do this as well.
We hope this information helps you find a place to sleep wherever you may be.