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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

              Freelance Writer

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              Last Updated on August 20, 2019

              How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

              How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

              Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

              In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

              5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

              Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

              1. Be Clear About the Objectives

              Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

              It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

              Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

              2. Keep Them Realistic

              It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

              It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

              3. Account for Inflation

              Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

              Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

              For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

              4. Short Term vs Long Term

              Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

              As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

              More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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              5. To Each to His Own

              The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

              It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

              By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

              11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

              Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

              • Ensuring healthy savings
              • Making smart investments

              You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

              Ensuring Healthy Savings

              Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

              This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

              1. Track Expenses

              The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

              Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

              2. Pay Yourself First

              Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

              Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

              The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

              Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

              3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

              Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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              Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

              At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

              Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

              You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

              4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

              Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

              If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

              Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

              All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

              5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

              In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

              Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

              Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

              If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

              If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

              So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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              6. Talk About It

              Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

              Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

              7. Maintain a Journal

              For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

              So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

              Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

              When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

              At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

              Making Smart Investments

              Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

              8. Consult a Financial Advisor

              Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

              Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

              9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

              Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

              Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

              Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

              It is here where that classification will help.

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              So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

              10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

              Einstein once remarked about compounding,

              Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

              So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

              Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

              11. Measure, Measure, Measure

              All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

              If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

              If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

              Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

              The Bottom Line

              This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

              As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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              Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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