If you’ve done any traveling in the developing world, you’ve probably come to appreciate how far your dollars/euros/pounds will take you. On my recent trip to India I spent $10-20/night for decent accommodations and not much more for food and activities. Back in the west, even relatively affordable cities like Berlin can feel quite expensive, especially for those on an extended journey. This is partly due to the poor performance of the dollar against the euro, but let’s face it, things just cost more — a lot more — in the west.
But it’s not just about the cost — if you value having access to a kitchen or a place to safely park your rented bike, if you appreciate non-sterile living spaces, or if you’d prefer to spend your time in an actual neighborhood rather than the tourist or commercial district of a city, then check out these alternatives that can not only save you a ton of money but actually be better than staying in a hotel:
- Friends or friends-of-friends. This may seem obvious, but I recently came to Berlin thinking I didn’t know anybody in this city. After a quick post to Facebook asking friends to connect me with the people they knew, I not only ended up with free accommodation for my first week, but also an invitation to Berghain, one of Berlin’s hottest dance clubs. Both were awesome introductions to the city. Chances are you know somebody that has a connection in your destination city.
- Private rentals. Sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, and VBRO make it possible for people to rent out individual rooms or entire flats/houses to travelers. After staying with friends my first week in Berlin, I moved to a private room in Mitte off Torstraße and then again to another private room in Kreuzberg. Both were really great rooms in hip Berlin neighborhoods costing me less than $40/night.
- Free couches. Couchsurfing is another great alternative that connects travelers with locals who have a couch or a spare bed/bedroom available at no cost. This is another excellent way to save money while meeting interesting locals who’ll often share their insider perspective with you.
What other accommodations have you found that are both better and less expensive than traditional hotels?