Staying Cheap- How to Stay in Locations for Less Money
I used to travel for work and I lived out of hotels, sometimes weeks at a time. I hated it. There's nothing that makes you feel more isolated and out of touch with your area than staying in a hotel. Even hotels which are located quite centrally are still just hotels and meant to keep you for a few days somewhat comfortably. But just a few days. Now that I travel full time, I can't even stomach the idea of staying in a hotel for even one night. There's a room with a bed and probably a chair and maybe a desk. There's a bathroom for all the things you do in a bathroom, and some hangers in a wardrobe and a few drawers. There's a TV with strange channels and possibly an expensive mini bar if you're lucky. Go downstairs and you will find people exactly like you, strangers in a strange land who came from rooms that look exactly like yours and who are looking to see the tourist spots. It's the absolute best way to see expensive tourist attractions that attract only the foreigners and you’ll meet few of the locals. I don't call that a vacation; I call that taking a small amount of my personal stuff somewhere to spend it with none of the people who live where I stay.
As full time travelers we just don't deal with that anymore and we enjoy our experiences immeasurably more. Here are some things we have learned which can also be applied quite easily to shorter term stays to get the most out of your trip.
Why would we stay anywhere else? With a little bit of searching and some custom filters, we have always found just the right stay at just the right price. In fact, by lengthening your stay, you will realize larger discounts. We stay for at least one month wherever we are and enjoy discounts of up to 70%! By using AirBnB so, we solve a couple of budget concerns: we are able to cook our own rather than eat out for every meal, substantially saving money AND guaranteeing a meal we can stomach. It's a home so all the amenities are there as filtered; laundry facilities, refrigerator storage, comfy sofas and beds, the list goes on. A little research and we stay in neighborhoods where real people who really live there, really live there! We've never ever failed to make friends wherever we've gone and learned something we would never have known had we stayed in a hotel. And mostly, you can find homes well within almost any budget that are infinitely more comfortable and less isolating that a hotel.
We learned this one early on. Sometimes you can't get around it; London is an example of a place that doesn't have an easy second city stay. But we've learned we can stay cheaper in Verona than Milan and still get to Milan. We can stay in Cologne cheaper than Berlin and still enjoy all the attractions both cities have to offer. Venice is beautiful but ridiculously expensive. No problem! Ljubljana is amazing and cheaper, and we can still get to Venice. There are countless second city options that save you money without compromising your experience. In fact, you're liable to enjoy the experience more away from the madding crowd of tourists.
As much as we'd love to do this, it's difficult for us traveling with a dog. But we know many friends who use the service and it's terrific. It works like this. You sign up and pay a fee. Then you search for places you would like to house sit at the times you would like to house sit (they're available literally everywhere except possibly Antarctica). If the owners agree, you stay there whilst they are away...FOR FREE. Often there is a pet sit involved, so if you don't mind looking after a pet during your stay and can accommodate your schedule to when the owners will be away, you have free digs! It's really that simple. Yes, you need to prove you can look after a pet- they'd like to know Fluffy will be alive when they return- but there are beautiful places to stay, updated daily, and you've solved your accommodation budget with room to spare! Literally!
We've found some super great deals or shorter term stays on this all-encompassing site. It's a amalgam of hotels, BnB's, self-catering flats and homes...a little bit of everything and you can get yourself some pretty great deals if you do a bit of research. We've used them on shorter trips and they have never let us down. Booking.com
Got more ideas? Awesome, share them in the comments below. We'd all benefit from your knowledge!