Frugal Travel Tips Pt. 2 – Lodging

Frugal Travel Tips Pt. 2 – Lodging

When it comes to where to stay, choices can be overwhelming! Here's a concise list of travel tips for lodging options that can fit any budget. In general, the following are in order from least to most expensive:

  1. Couchsurfing
  2. Camping
  3. Hostels
  4. Airbnb
  5. Hotel

Currently, these are the most common ways to find a place to sleep. There is a new option that has started to gain traction: camper vans. I’ll have more info about this at the bottom of the list!

  1. Couchsurfing - This the cheapest option coming at a low cost of FREE. You can couchsurf in one of two ways:
    1. Stay with friends, family, or friends of friends. If you have an extensive geographic network on social media, use it! Ask around and see if anyone would be willing to host you. I recommend no more than 3-4 nights though, so you don’t overstay your welcome. No one wants a squatter.
      The best part about couchsurfing is getting your own personal tour guide! Your friends can show you what it’s like living in a different place.  Some of my best trips to England and Ireland have been staying with friends from camp and asking them to show me their life.
    2. Couchsurfing Platform - This is a website that connects hosts with travelers based on location. I will say, I haven’t had much luck with the website. Some hosts are picky and will not allow you to stay unless you are also a host. Thankfully, the service does take safety very seriously. At the end of the day, it’s a good option to explore, but be wary!
  2. Camping - A good option in the U.S. (and possibly  in Europe but slightly more difficult), camping can be a great experience. I am all for getting a bit of fresh air in your lungs and exploring nature, and if you’ve never tried it before, 10/10 would recommend. If you’re planning something far in advance, camping can be hit or miss, because you won’t be able to depend on weather forecasts until the week prior. Also, it’s only an economical option if you already have camping gear. Here are 3 of my favorite sites to search for campgrounds:
    1. Hipcamp - This site specializes in trendy and obscure camping locations such as vineyards and ranches.
    2. National Park Service - By camping in a NPS location, you are showing the U.S. Government the importance of keeping wilderness and nature protected.
    3. Free Campsites - A wonderful, comprehensive site that shows free, paying, and permit campsites across the world!
  3. Hostels - Particularly popular in big cities, hostels are a great opportunity to meet other world travelers. When checking out a hostel, I strongly recommend looking at reviews and ratings. Some of them are really nice and the perfect travel experience, others make you feel homeless (side note: I’m pretty sure I’ve shared a room with a homeless person at a hostel).
    As a reminder, you get what you pay for. I always use Hostelworld. The interface is clear and easy to use with the best options available and clear ratings. So far, about 75% of my stays with hostels have been seamless experiences because I learned to pay attention to ratings and READ REVIEWS.
  4. Airbnb - MY FAVORITE. I started using Airbnb years ago, and I use it for almost every trip now. For those who’ve never heard of it before, you stay at someone else’s house. I love that when you’re searching you can customize what you want - number of people, price, what kind of place (i.e. private room, entire place, etc.). If you don’t have an account yet, use my referral link to sign up and get bonus credit! If you’re interested in hosting with Airbnb to make some extra cash, use this link and I’ll be sure to encourage you along the way!
  5. Hotels - The classic option, hotels are everywhere. Personally, I’m not a big fan of hotels. Costs can rack up very quickly, and the amount of amenities and space you get for the price doesn’t compare with what you can get at an Airbnb. However, if you are traveling for a major holiday celebration or a conference, hotels are nice, and you know what you’re getting with a hotel. Sometimes that peace of mind is worth the money.  Some of the most popular hotel comparison sites:
    2. Trivago
    3. Expedia
    4. TripAdvisor
    5. KAYAK

As a final more obscure option I offer you the Camper Van. A growing movement among Millennials is upgrading large vans so you can live in them full time or for travel purposes. The only group I’ve found so far in the Western United States is Wandervans located in Boise, ID and Salt Lake City, UT. If you’re curious what this kind of adventure entails, I recommend checking out this article from The Outbound Collective.

Personally, I stick to Airbnbs and hostels most of the time, but I’m hoping to adventure into camping more once I get all the proper gear. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on those adventures!

If you're currently in the throes of planning your next trip, you should check out this post on the best resources to do so!

Best of luck on your adventure, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, drop them below!

About Shannon Pedersen

Share Your Thoughts, Questions & Comments!