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12 Clever Tips For Finding Cheap Accommodations Around The World

12 Clever Tips For Finding Cheap Accommodations Around The World

Accommodations are the biggest travel expense we all try to eliminate to the bare minimum. No matter what your housing preferences are, you probably don’t want to pay a fortune for where you stay while on vacation. We still need some money to splurge on food, sightseeing and a few fancy drinks, right? So here are 12 clever tips to help you score major discounts and even some free scores with all kinda of accommodations.

1. Take advantage of free housing in exchange for some work

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    You can work your way around the world and keep your accommodation costs close to zero. With a sharing economy on the rise, landlords, farmers and common people like you and I can open up our homes and let others stay for free in exchange for a few hours of their time, helping with different chores.

    Your duties may vary from farm or garden work, to minor construction or baby sitting. Typically, you are not asked to work more than four hours a day which means loads of time left for exploring!

    Where to look for opportunities:

    HelpX – Loads of different options (from hostel work to boat renovation) available in various locations worldwide. Browse the listings, get in touch with the host and secure your stay. The service is free to use.
    WWOOF Stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You’ll need to register to get access to job offers. Membership fee depends on the country you choose to work in ($40 for USA; AUD70 for Australia).

    2. Get involved in a hospitality exchange

    You’ve already heard of Couchsurfring before as an awesome way to stay at someone’s place for free, right? The truth is, your stay isn’t completely free. Yes, you don’t pay a dollar for the room, however you shouldn’t think of hospitality exchange as a free hostel.

    It’s a community where you have to give and receive. Fill in your profile with as much personal information as you can, and let someone stay at your place first. Treat them like guests and show around your town. Learn to be a good host first, before bombarding other people out there with any demands to stay for free.

    Craft personalized messages, tell them about yourself and your interests, state why you’d particularly chosen to host and mention common interests. Securing a place via hospitality exchange may be a bit time consuming, but hey, it’s a great chance to make new amazing friends!

    Where to look for opportunities:

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    – Couchsurfing – The biggest community out there with loads of hosts and surfers worldwide. Also, there’s a big forum you can browse through to ask questions about the place you travel to or just find a local willing to show you around a bit.
    – Global Freeloaders – A similar service with slightly less users, mainly from Australia and the US.
    – Hospitality Club – A great way to meet with the locals and get a free stay as well. Quite a lot of listings worldwide.

    3. Rent an apartment

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      The slower you travel, the less you spend on everything, including housing. If you plan to stick around a certain area for a month or two, rent your own place. As a long-term traveler and digital nomad, that’s my go-to way to reduce various travel costs.

      As you have a kitchen, you can cook your own meals once in a while and cut down the second major expense – food. Besides, your host probably knows a lot of free things to do in the city and will spill out where the locals go to snack.

      Even if you plan to stay short term, apartment rentals often prove to be much cheaper, especially if you travel with a company. For instance, a private room in a hostel in Paris starts from €60 per night; a 3-star hotel costs from €100, whereas renting out a small studio can cost you around €40 to €50 per night. Or you can opt for a more luxurious space if you travel as a group. For €150 to €200 per night you can rent a spacious 2-3 room apartment in good neighborhood in Paris.

      Where to look for opportunities:

      – Airbnb – This contains a huge collection of various properties worldwide. From private rooms to tree houses and even airplanes. There’s a lot of creative rental housing available.
      – Roomorama – A great selection of stylish rooms, apartments and houses around the globe. Rates vary from super cheap to modest.
      – Wimdu – Apartment and house rentals in major European and US cities. Nice selection of summer house at popular vacation spots.

      4. Stay in a monastery

      If comfort is not your primary concern and you don’t mind living in a pretty spartan environment, stay in a medieval monastery. Typically, you’d be either asked to make a donation for your stay or offer a room for a budget-friendly fee. Don’t forget to behave appropriately and mind the local rules.

      Often the place gets locked up for the night, so staying out late may not be the best idea. Spending a few nights in a monastery can be an incredible insight into the local way of life though, and a highly delightful experience indeed if you need to restore you mojo before setting on the road again.

      Where to look for opportunities:

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      – Monastery Stays Locations – A great selection of incredibly beautiful monasteries around the world. Paid opportunities only.
      – 15 Great Monastery Stays – A list of free and paid options around the world.
      – Google search monasteries in the area you are heading to and make a direct inquiry. Most places now have websites with emails and telephones listed.

      5. Housesit

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        The second best option for long-term travelers is to mind someone’s else house while the owners are away on their vacation or any other occasion. Aside from taking care of the property, you are often asked to take care of the pets as well (which is actually kind of cool).

        Becoming a housesitter is pretty easy. Register at one of housesitting sites, fill in your profile telling who you are and what you do, get in touch with different hosts and pass a series of interviews. A great advantage is an existing blog or a website where you can showcase your references even if those come from your friends and family.

        Where to look for opportunities:

        – Trusted Housesitters – One of the most popular communities out there with loads of properties listed in Europe, South and Central America. Annual membership will cost you €6.99 per month, and €15.99 if you opt for a three month plan.
        – Mind My House – Loads of housesitting gigs from around the world, from Canada to New Zealand. There is an annual membership fee of $20.
        – Luxury House Sitting – Premium property listing primary in the US with fewer gigs in Europe and Central America. There is an annual membership fee of $25.
        If you already have a few references and positive testimonials, browse around the groups and forums in the area you target.

        6. Don’t book in advance, haggle on the spot

        If you are traveling in Southeast Asia, accommodation prices on the spot can drastically differ from those listed on hotel booking sites. The best option is to book just 1-2 nights in advance, research other hotels in the area you like and pay them a personal visit to ask for a better price.

        It would likely be at least 30% lower than those sold via hotel booking engines. The longer you plan to stay, the lower the price can fall. No advance haggling skills needed. Besides, if you have a decent following on social media or run a blog, you can ask for a bigger discount in exchange for a positive review and a few shout-outs.

        7. Farm your way

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          Numerous farms these day will let you to stay for a budget friendly price, get involved in a number of free outdoor activities and say, learn how to milk a cow. It’s a great option for those who’d like to escape the city bustle, get fresh veggies for lunch and spend more time outdoors.

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          Rooms are simple and rustic, yet have this wonderful homelike atmosphere and the hosts are usually very friendly people who will be glad to show you around the area and treat you with delicious homemade snacks. It’s a great option for saving money while traveling with kids and still having fun!

          Where to look for opportunities:

          – Farm Stay UK – A great selection of farms, cottages and B&Bs around the UK. Prices start from just £15 per person per night.
          – Farm Stay US – Farms, ranches and vineyards around the US. Prices start from $20 per room.
          – Farm Stay Australia –  A directory of rural properties and camp stays around Australia offering guest stays. You should contact the hosts directly.

          8. Take advantage of price drop refunds

          There are numerous factors affecting hotel prices – the season, your location and even the day when you’ve made the booking. It’s really frustrating to discover huge price drops in just a few days after you have already booked your stay.

          But fret not! There’s a service for this called Tingo – another hotel booking engine that will automatically refund the price difference back to your credit card if the hotel decided to change it. You can stay, 100% sure you’ve gotten the best possible price !

          9. Book a secret hotel

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            Once in a while, even the best hotels can’t fill all their rooms 100% of the time, so they sell the excess at deep discounts. Those deals aren’t typically announced to the wide public, in order to avoid mass frustrations.

            Various services list “secret hotel deals” with limited information included. You’ll receive full details only after you make the purchase. However, a quick Google search will often let you identify the property with nearly 100% accuracy. So far, that’s one of the best ways to score luxury hotels stays for a frugal rate.

            Where to look for opportunities:

            – Hotwire –  Up to 60% off discounts on premium accommodations worldwide. Secret deals available in most major cities worldwide.
            – Lastminute – Loads of great deals in London and around the UK, with lesser choice in Europe.
            – Priceline Express Deals – Hotels in the US mainly sold at bargain rates.

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            10. Keep an eye on flash sales

            If you don’t mind spending a few hours a day hawking on flash sale websites and have flexible vacation dates, you can score incredibly affordable deals from high-end resorts worldwide. Flash sales run for a limited amount of time, so you do need to book fast.

            Where to look for opportunities:

            – Jetsetter – Mind-blowing luxurious resorts from around the globe. Typically, I could never splurge on such type of accommodations, unless booking with their discounts.
            – LivingSocial Escapes – Discounted hotel deals with cool add-ons like free meal vouchers, excursions or even fully discounted tours with air fair included.
            – TripAlertz – Free membership site with loads of special deals on hotels and airfare.

            11. Stay in a youth hostel

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              If you are under 25 (or 30 in some cases), you can join the youth hostels federation and gain access to numerous cheap stays worldwide. Typically, a bed in an 8-person dorm will cost you somewhere around €6 to €20 per night in Western Europe.

              The annual fee membership is €10.70, or you can get a one night membership for €2.90 that will become annual once you collect six nights. Deals available at HiHostels.com

              12. Redeem your frequent flyer miles

              You don’t need to be a travel hacker to get free accommodations in exchange for your frequent flier miles. Five trips around Europe or two flights from Europe to the US/Asia will let you get a highly discounted rate at one of the partner hotels or even a completely free stay.

              My go-to programs are Star Alliance frequent flyer and Flying Blue. Also, both offer huge credit card sign up bonuses and miles for purchases at partner stores like the iTunes App Store.

              Featured photo credit: Kevin Dooley via flickr.com

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              Elena Prokopets

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              Published on May 7, 2019

              How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

              How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

              When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

              Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

              Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

              You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

              Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

              1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

              Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

              But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

              • Will you spend more time with your family?
              • What does retirement mean to you?
              • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

              Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

              Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

              2. Figure out When to Invest

              “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

              It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

              The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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              A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

              Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

              3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

              Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

              Why?

              Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

              Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

              Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

              Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

              4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

              Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

              If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

              You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

              1. Vanguard
              2. TD Ameritrade
              3. Charles Schwab

              5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

              Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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              Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

              That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

              Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

              A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

              6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

              The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

              Robo Advisors

              Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

              Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

              Bonds

              Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

              Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

              Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

              1. Treasury bonds
              2. Government bonds
              3. Corporate bonds
              4. Foreign bonds
              5. Mortgage-backed bonds
              6. Municipal bonds

              Mutual Funds

              Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

              One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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              Real Estate

              Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

              Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

              This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

              But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

              Savings Accounts

              Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

              7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

              Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

              So how can you master delayed gratification?

              By building your discipline.

              Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

              Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

              8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

              I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

              It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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              More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

              But, how can you invest yourself?

              Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

              Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

              But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

              Retire Happy with Excess Money

              The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

              It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

              I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

              Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

              One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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              Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

              Reference

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